Commercial EPC Recommendations: How to Improve Your Score

By Ian on Monday 20th November 2023

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Every EPC on a commercial building comes with a set of recommendations specific to that property. Your non domestic energy assessor will choose which are suitable for your building from a pre defined list. They also have the opportunity to add in additional recommendations. Lets take a look at the most common ones, how they impact your building and how to implement them.

Table of Contents

Fabric First Approach

It makes sense to start an energy saving journey with preventing excessive energy being wasted through the fabric of your building. You can insulate both solid and cavity external walls and make sure that you have 270mm of loft insulation as a minimum. Old single glazed and some older PVC windows and doors leak heat. Upgrade these with thermal alternatives like composite doors and low u-value windows.

Once this is done, consider the remaining sections for your business.

EPC Lighting Recommendation

This appears on any Commercial EPC Recommendation Report where the building has non low energy lighting installed. This could be just one bulb!

Ideally, we’re looking for LED bulbs when completing an EPC assessment. Other common bulbs we find are:

  • Fluorescent Tubes
  • Halogen
  • High Pressure Sodium / Mercury

These bulbs use a lot more energy than LEDs and can usually be swapped pretty easily. You may need the help of an electrician in some cases. Reductions in energy consumption will lead to an improved carbon footprint for your business as well as reduced energy costs.

Commercial EPC Heating

Most businesses are still users of traditional gas boilers. During your Commercial EPC were looking for opportunities to do things a little better. Gas boilers, although extremely reliable have their efficiency capped around 100%, which sounds great. But.

Modern alternatives such as Air Source Heat Pumps are typically around 400% efficient. This means that For every one kWh of electricity they consume, they output four kWh of heating energy. Now, one kWh of electricity is currently (November 2023) around four times more expensive than gas, cancelling out the immediate saving. However, if the gas boiler is the only gas appliance in your building, you no longer need to pay a standing charge of between £100 and £400 a year. But.

What if you had a way of producing your own electricity? We’ll touch more on renewable sources of energy like solar PV panels and wind turbines later.

Hot Water Recommendations

We see a standard set up of a gas fired boiler for the heating and grid supplied hot water immersion heater time and time again. Hot water cylinders are great but they need to be insulated. Modern cylinders are insulated in the factory. Consider adding a £20 insulation jacket to older, copper cylinders. Doing this will gain you a few additional marks on the EPC and save you a bit of money.

One of my favourite recommendations to make on Commercial EPCs is solar water heating.

Panels, they look similar to PV, live on the roof. Working in a similar way to ground source heat pumps, each panel has a mix of water and glycol running through it. The solar water heating system includes a cylinder containing a heat exchange. This uses the energy in the water glycol mix to heat up water. Depending on your consumption you may need a back up electric immersion heater but you’ll likely see a significant saving on your hot water bill.

BEMS EPC Recommendation

Another that I always try to include on the report. Most businesses lack the ability to monitor, control and optimise their energy usage. A Building Energy Management System, aka BEMS, gives businesses the tools to do just this.

How does a BEMS work?

Monitor: Sensors are placed around your services, covering gas, electricity, water, heating and others. The sensors collect data on usage and sends it back to a user friendly interface where multiple reports can be generated and alerts configured.

Control: The system can automatically control the energy usage within your building. It can adjust systems like your heating, ventilation, air conditioning, hot water and lighting using information collected via the sensors.

Optimise: Using data such as occupancy levels, time of day and external temperatures a BEMS can optimise the energy used in your building.

A well configured BEMS will drastically reduce wasted energy in most buildings reducing operational costs. It makes sure building services are only used when necessary. The information collected by the system can also help businesses and building owners make data driven decisions around their services.

Prices for a basic system for a small building start less than £1,000 and will show a good return on your investment.

Renewable Energy Commercial EPC

I think that it is good practice for all EPCs to have some recommendation for onsite renewable energy generation. Beyond saving the planet, there are more reasons to invest in these technologies

  • There is a good return on investment.
  • You can gain some stability in energy costs.
  • Excess energy can be sold back to the grid.
  • Your business can be protected against downtime.

This renewable energy generation can come from two major sources, solar PV panels or a wind turbine. Either of these two methods can vastly improve your Commercial EPC rating and will save you a decent amount on your energy bills. Although it won’t make a difference on the EPC, some sort of battery storage for your system should be considered for additional resilience.

Wind turbines generally don’t provide the ROI required in built up or semi built up areas, but if you’re located in a rural area with some open space, they’re great.

Solar PV panels tend to be the more common recommendation. They’re reliable and a well designed system can produce all of a businesses electric. They work on cloudy days although not as efficiently which is an important note here in the UK! Find your local MCS accredited installer to make sure that you system will generate what you need.

Conclusion

When improving your business’ EPC score or trying to reduce operating costs, turn to your EPC Recommendations Report. You’ll have specific advice for your building that will help you improve. Always begin by fixing the fabric of the building to maximise the effect of any other upgrades you make. Get your own Commercial EPC today!

About the Author

About Ian Kay

Ian is a seasoned energy assessor helping his customers, reduce energy usage and save money on their bills. He holds qualifications from both City & Guilds and ABBE for Domestic EPCs and Commercial EPCs (Level 3 NDEA and Level 4 NDEA). With a background in the building trade he can provide his customers with a unique perspective and advice. Ian combines his deep industry knowledge with practical advice to create blog posts that help visitors understand the complexities of energy performance certificates and reducing operating costs. When not immersed in the world of energy assessments, Ian enjoys exploring the great outdoors and spending quality time with his family.

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