How individuals and companies can contribute to reducing carbon emissions has become a popular topic, particularly post COP26.
In this article we will explore ways in which landlords can make some energy efficient improvements to their homes, such as through using renewable energies and installing energy-saving measures.
The green homes grant scheme
Under Rishi Sunak's Green Homes Grant, homeowners and residential landlords could apply for a voucher to be used to contribute to making energy efficiency measures in their homes as part of the government's eco industrial strategy. Landlords could therefore seek to improve their energy efficiency, and perhaps reduce costs through the adoption of measures that improve energy efficiency standards.
As aforementioned, eligible persons needed to apply for the Green Homes Grant to receive their green homes grant voucher via gov.uk. Applications closed post 31st March 2021 but following COP26 and the introduction of the so-called boiler ban it is sensible to consider ways that landlords can green proof their rentals even if it is currently not financially viable so that landlords can take advantage of any future schemes and incentives. It must be noted that whilst a common FAQ under the Green Homes Grant was whether it solely applied to homeowners and landlords in England, similar schemes were also modelled in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
In the following section we will discuss how landlords can make some eco (and potentially cost-saving!) home improvements and what landlords should consider installing or replacing to power the house.
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There is some truth in the old fashioned saying of 'close that window or you'll let the cold in'. Whilst as a matter of science it is heat that 'escapes' and not cold air that enters, making sure that the home is adequately insulated is a simple way to eco-proof the home and save on energy bills. It is estimated that windows account for 20% of the heat loss in properties. Single glazing is now considered largely inadequate in that it allows a relatively vast amount of energy to 'escape'. As such secondary glazing has become the default in the UK. If a landlord is considering installing new windows into the property, they should therefore consider improving not only the window fit (in making sure it is flush) but also the glaze that they opt for. Triple glazing is now also a common alternative for those seeking new installations. Single glazed windows have an estimated U value (essentially a measure of heat loss in this context) of 5.0W/m²k whereas some triple glazing manufactures claim to reduce this to 0.5W/m²k.
Landlords can also consider draught proofing their homes to prevent and reduce heat loss. Roof insulation, loft insulation and floor insulation are effective ways to minimise heat loss and can be done on a cheaper budget. Cavity wall insulation, whilst a more invasive method, is also another way landlords, potentially if they are refurbishing a property, can help reduce heat loss. Simple things such as installing energy efficient doors might also be an effective way to reduce heat loss and therefore heat supply and bills.
Installing heating controls in a home is also an effective way to ensure that resources are not wasted. Having access to smart heating controls, such as a timed thermostat, will ensure that energy levels can remain constant which is considerably less wasteful (and expensive) than over-booting central heating systems. Keeping radiators and rooms at a constant temperature consumes considerably less energy. Likewise, having a hot water tank thermostat is an energy-efficient way to ensure that hot water is not only readily available as and when require but also to minimise the costs associated with overriding the central system.
As well as making home improvements, such as to windows and doors, landlords could consider replacing certain installers for greener alternatives to traditional energy sources. For heating, landlords and homeowners are being encouraged to replace their gas boilers with more eco-friendly alternatives, such as air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps for low-carbon heating. Similarly, landlords could consider opting for solar thermal panels.
Landlords are required to provide tenants with Electrical Performance Certificates (EPC) from an assessor (with relevant accreditations) that outline information about the property's energy use and costs. A poor EPC rating might make a landlord's property unattractive to tenants where bills are not all-inclusive of rent so it is therefore wise, given that landlords must be transparent about costs, to find effective ways to boost a home's EPC rating.
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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.