In many professional Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), rooms are rented at an all-inclusive rate with landlords footing most, if not all, of the household bills. With the relatively new legislation requiring all rented properties to have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’, this could increase landlords’ outgoings in the short-term. They may need to, for example, install a new boiler, insulate the loft, invest in double glazing or introduce draught-proofing.
This being the case, it’s never been more important to be energy-efficient. Even making a few tweaks around your property could save you a lot of money – as the old adage goes: ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. Here are some of our Partners’ top tips on saving energy.
1. Energy Efficiency Grants
First and foremost, check out what grants and subsidies might be freely available to you in your area. You could be saving money on tons of things, from loft and cavity wall insulation to combi boilers and new windows. This website is a good place to start: www.gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator.
2. Heat Settings
There are many wild and wonderful gadgets out there now for controlling your heating and hot-water systems. Aside from pre-setting the times and temperatures on boilers and heaters, you can get a range of devices (including downloading an app to your smartphone) that will not only allow you to manage the settings from wherever you may be, but will allow for tenants to have some control, too. If you have the settings too low, they may take it upon themselves to buy an electric heater, which will push costs right up. Plus, you want to maintain a good relationship with tenants – telling them to “wear a jumper” may not go down too well.
It’s also important to remember the thermostats and set them to an appropriate temperature. You’ll find them on boilers and immersion heaters, and if they’re not fitted to your radiators, that’s something else to consider.
It seems like the simplest of things but choosing the right light bulbs is a minefield. There are so many different types, energy consumptions and brightness levels. A halogen light will use up to 30% less energy than a regular light bulb and they are very cheap. They’re not great for permanent use, but if they are switched on and off for short times, such as in a cupboard or downstairs toilet, they’ll do the job.
The compact fluorescent light will use up to 80% less energy. They take a while to come on and can’t be dimmed normally, and there is an environmental impact as they contain a lot of mercury. LED lights save the most energy – using up to 90% less than a traditional bulb. You can get cool white, warm white and daylight, depending on the strength of light you want emitted. They are more expensive but have a long life (some lasting up to 15 years) and save you on maintenance.
It’s worth thinking about fitting occupancy sensors, which automatically control lights when someone enters a room. It’s been estimated that these devices can reduce electricity use by around 30%.
Never go for the most expensive or the fanciest! When you buy white goods, you should always think about the running costs – and the noise. Check the energy-efficiency label and look out for the Energy Saving Trust logo. A handy website for finding out how much an appliance will cost you to run per year is www.sust-it.net
At the end of the day, if your energy bills go up, so will the rent you have to charge your tenants. Therefore, it’s also in their best interests to keep costs down. You’re not asking them to share showers or eat by candlelight (unless romance has blossomed, of course!), but just to be energy conscious. Remind them to switch off the lights when they’re not in the room, turn off appliances once they’ve finished using them, and not to leave windows open unnecessarily – especially if the heating is on. You could try putting some posters/notes up around the house as gentle reminders.
What top tips do you have for saving energy around the house?