How landlords can make their properties more environmentally friendly

Making a rental property more eco-friendly isn’t top of every landlord’s priority list especially with the rental market booming and there being no shortage of potential tenants but it is certainly something every landlord should consider.

Why make a home more environmentally friendly?

Energy performance certificates (EPCs) were introduced in 2008 to encourage property owners to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. If you’re a private landlord, you’re legally required to provide an EPC to your tenant and many lettings agents include them in the listings for convenience.

Prospective tenants can use the EPC to get a reasonable idea of how much they’ll be paying in bills and the better the EPC rating is, the lower the cost of bills will be making your property more attractive. If you significantly improve the EPC rating of your property the savings the tenant will make on bills could entice them into paying a higher rent.

Here are some of the little and not so little changes that can be made:

Low-flow toilets

Low-flow toilets use far less water than their equivalents, using 6 litres per flush compared to the 9-13 litres that older toilets use. If your buy-to-let has more than one bathroom, or if it is home to a large family, this could lead to a significant saving on water bills. You don’t even have to remove the old toilet to see savings – you can use a cistern block like this, with many water companies giving them away for free, or even use something as simple as a brick.

Insulation

Something as simple as wall and loft insulation can cut bills by hundreds of pounds annually. If you can do this using recycled material it’s even better. Also, if you don’t already have loft or cavity wall insulation the savings are immediate and substantial. Always check with your local council to see if they have any grants or schemes in place for landlords. The cost of loft insulation (about £250-£300) in a standard house should be recouped through bills within two to three years or sooner with a proportionate increase in rent.

Opt for electric heating

Replacing archaic and fuel hungry water heated radiators with smart energy saving electric ones will make a sizeable difference to your EPC rating. Electric heating systems are an especially attractive prospect for landlords, especially if your property is a house share or marketed to students, as they are much more efficient at sustaining the chosen temperature. If utilities are included in the rent you may find this kind of solution will bring down your heating bills and if they are the responsibility of your sharers it could help reduce any potential friction. As an added bonus they do not require annual maintenance, remove the need for a boiler for your radiators (saving water and more money), and you don’t need to hire a professional to install them

Double Glazing

It goes without saying you insulate your windows but many properties still have single glazed doors and windows. Prevent heat from escaping by going for double glazing as standard where possible. Period windows may be beautiful but they’re also draughty. Replacing them could be costly but through secondary glazing or fitting shutters, they can be easily, and cheaply, insulated, which would improve the EPC rating.

Bulbs

Sounds obvious but make sure you switch to energy saving bulbs rather than the old incandescent kind. In days gone by energy efficient bulbs gave off a poor glow and wouldn’t have shown your property in the best light but this is no longer the case with many energy efficient bulbs outshining their older counterparts whilst still making significant savings on energy.

Go solar

Feed-in tariffs mean that people who generate their own energy through solar panels can receive regular payments from energy suppliers. You don’t get money for installing the panels, but you can get a tailored loan for this which would be facilitated through a higher rent or even by giving permission to your tenants to have the work done if it is a long-term arrangement and they could benefit from the feed-in. Although installing solar panels is a great idea, it isn’t always possible and not everyone likes the look of them so it requires some careful consideration.

Grants and allowances can reduce costs

If you’re looking to carry out these (or any other) environmentally friendly improvements it is worth taking a look at any grants, allowances and tax breaks available. Although making a property more eco-friendly may seem high cost, these grants and allowances can make it much more affordable.

The UK government has pledged to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% by 2050 and a key area for this is housing. Regulations for new builds helps however as older properties make up the vast majority of UK housing grants were introduced to help tackle the problem. There are a number of grants available for just about anything, so take a good look before you plan any work.

Making your property more energy efficient can increase the value of your property and can make it more desirable to tenants and buyers alike.

Image credit: geograph.org.uk