Energy efficiency is a term that has gained a lot of traction in recent years.
The defining characteristic of technology and tools that help keep energy usage low, energy efficiency’s rise to prominence has been facilitated not only by a desire to protect our planet from environmental damage, but also its ability to save people money on their energy bills.
Now more than ever, it is crucial for landlords to develop a portfolio of properties that are energy-efficient. Tenants are becoming a lot more aware of the potential of an energy-efficient home, meaning said efficiency becomes a factor when deciding where to live. It should also be noted that proposals are being set forth to allow greater loans to be taken out against energy-efficient homes, in a bid to promote cleaner practices. Add onto this that landlords will be legally required to ensure properties are at least partially energy-efficient as of April 2018, and that tenants can request improvements to efficiency now, and you’ve got some pretty compelling reasons to get on top of the movement.
So how do you get property up to scratch in 2017? Here are some tips for achieving better energy efficiency ratings, appeasing or attracting tenants, keeping on the right side of the law and becoming greener.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Technology
One of the biggest changes a landlord can make to their property to improve energy-efficiency is the integration of technology and appliances that consume less energy. The less energy your property uses, the more efficient it becomes. This will include items such as a fridge-freezer, washing machine, tumble dryer and boiler.
Of course, there are additional costs incurred in going energy-efficient on appliances. The best energy-saving products on the market are the most technologically advanced. For example, a good energy-efficient boiler will set you back over £1,000. However, it can save £340 a year in terms of energy consumption.
Such large reductions in energy usage translate to massive improvements to energy efficiency ratings. This is guaranteed to make the property more attractive to tenants and will also allow you to make a case for increasing rental prices in line with savings, reaping in long-term benefits.
Most energy wastage is considered to be the process of heat escaping without being used. In an inefficient boiler, more heat is produced to warm your bath water, for example. In a lightbulb, excess heat is produced by the filament when creating light. However, it isn’t just an appliance that can waste heat; a house can do it, too.
When central heating produces heat, it is spread around the house. Eventually it dissipates, escaping through doors, windows, walls, etc. However, you can impact the rate at which it dissipates by improving insulation, therefore reducing the amount of energy that is needed to heat a home, resulting in better energy efficiency.
To improve insulation, look to places where heat is lost the quickest and work to trap it better. The best place to start is the loft. As heat rises and loft space is usually poorly insulated, adding additional insulation will ensure more heat is retained with the home. The seals around doors and windows are another place that may need improving, as is underfloor and wall insulation.
Central Heating and Boiler Maintenance
The average lifespan of a boiler is between 12-15 years. In that time, it is likely that the only circumstances in which you’ll call out a plumber to look at the appliance is when a tenant complains of problems. However, when it comes to energy efficiency, this is a mistake.
While a boiler and central heating system may seem fine externally, internally, things will slow down over time. Parts start to wear and sludge can form in the pipes. The result is the boiler has to work harder to produce the same amount of heat, which reduces efficiency and consumes more energy, driving bills up and ratings down.
To maintain good energy ratings and keep your property running efficiently, it is recommended you carry out boiler and central heating maintenance programs annually. This means a professional comes out and ensures everything is running as it should and fixes any problems.
Maintenance of your boiler has the added benefit of allowing it to last longer and work at optimum efficiency for longer. Consider your boiler like a car. You wouldn’t expect it to run at its best without servicing, would you?
Solar panelling is being integrated into a lot of new homes and with good reason. The technology has demonstrated its ability to massively reduce the energy consumption with a home.
In financial terms, solar panels can save homes upwards of £800 in energy costs, which of course translates to a greatly decreased demand on the power grid and a rise in self-sustainability and efficiency. Investment in solar panel technology is potentially the single best way to improve your energy rating. However, it really is an investment.
Solar panels cost around £7,000 after installation, which is a fairly large expense even in terms of property. But, the average solar panel is guaranteed by manufactures for 25 years and thought to be built to last around 40 or more. This means minimal savings for tenants of £20,000 and upwards of £32,000 if reaching its predicted age.
So, it is a major cost, but its benefits to energy efficiency and your ability to increase rental prices in the long term clearly outweigh the initial spend.