The long-term plan for the UK housing stock is for us all to switch to an electric heating system and move away from using gas. This has been on the cards for a few years now and most people are aware that at some point this will happen. Some people have already made the change to electric heating and others will put it off for as long as possible but who is right and when is the right time to make the switch?

I’m a Domestic EPC Assessor based in Surrey and very often asked “is electric heating a good idea”

As a Domestic EPC Assessor I am looking at the impact the change to electric heating will have on the EPC’s Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) after making the switch. Most homeowners are not very interested in the EPC rating but if you’re a Landlord it’s very important.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) is something that all rental property is subject to, and currently all rental property must have an EER of E or better. If a property does not meet the minimum standard it can’t be let without improvements being made. The average EER for property in England and Wales is D60 and currently only around 250,000 private rented properties in England fall below the minimum of E39, but the minimum standard is due to change.

Currently the Government is reviewing responses to a consultation, which closed in January 2021 regarding raising the minimum standard. It is well known that the aim is to have MEES of C by 2030 at the latest but it’s looking more likely to be sooner than that. The Governments preferred route is to have MEES of C by 2025 for all new tenancies and 2028 for existing tenancies. If this happens it will be a real game changer for Landlords as it will mean a total of 3.4 million private rented sector homes in England will be below the minimum standard within 4 years.

With the above in mind, anyone making modifications to a private rented property should be ensuring that the modifications are in line with the above. So back to the question and what to do about heating?

Being a Domestic EPC Assessor, I find more and more that Landlords are modifying heating systems and moving over to electric before exploring what impact this may have on the property going forward. Quite often they have been convinced by marketing from an electrical heating manufacturer that the units being purchased are the most efficient on the market and the best thing to install. Unfortunately though in my experience of assessing properties this just is not the case. The most common modifications are:

1: Remove the gas boiler and install an electric boiler
2: Remove the gas boiler and radiators and install electric room heaters
3: Remove electric storage heaters and install electric room heaters
4: Remove the gas boiler and install High Heat Retention Storage Heaters

I have modelled all of the above scenarios and my findings are below.

Domestic EPC Assessor Surrey1: Remove the gas boiler and switch to electric heating with electric boiler

I had this exact scenario this week. This property is a 3rd floor flat in a purpose built block, there is another property above and below. The Landlord has recently installed a new Electric boiler, which is used for heating and hot water and removed the gas boiler. I have modelled the same property and changed only the electric boiler to a gas boiler and the results are as follows.

  • With electric boiler the EER is E48.
  • With gas boiler the EER is C74

2: Remove the gas boiler and radiators and install electric heating with room heaters

I have used the same property as above for this, removed the radiators and modelled electric convector heaters with appliance thermostats and timer, and changed the water heater to a dual rate immersion cylinder. I have also changed the electric meter to a dual rate meter.

  • With gas boiler the EER is C74
  • With electric convector heaters the EER is D61

electric heating3: Remove electric storage heaters and install electric heating room heaters

Although this is not changing fuel, this is a common modification which does not benefit the EER. Again based on the above property, I have first modelled with storage heaters with manual controls and dual rate hot water cylinder and electric meter. Then modelled again swapping the storage heaters to electric room heaters.

  • With storage heaters the EER is: D68
  • With electric convector heaters the EER is: D61

4: Remove the gas boiler and install electric heating with High Heat Retention Storage Heaters

Modelled on the same property as previously, and using the latest High Heat Retention Storage Heaters and a dual immersion cylinder for hot water.

  • With gas boiler the EER is C74
  • With HHR storage heaters the EER is C73

So there you have it, gas has a better EER in all of the scenarios above. The only realistic option for electric heating is the High Heat Retention storage heaters which is only one point lower than the gas boiler. By the way, it does not matter what type of electric heater you are using, it could be electric under floor heating, convector heaters, electric radiators or even infrared panel heaters, these are all entered in the same way for an EPC assessment and the results will be the same.

So if you are thinking of going electric, check out High Heat Retention storage heaters and most importantly, get a domestic energy assessment carried out first so the assessor can model the plans for your property and provide you a predicted EER.

If you would like to have a Domestic EPC energy assessment completed for your property get in touch with The Property Assessment Company toady and we will be happy to help.

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