Retrofitting older homes for energy efficiency
- 19th October 2023
- Landlord Property News
In September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that, as part of a revision of the UK’s net zero policy, he would scrap the requirement for the Energy Performance Certificate rating of properties for rent to be category C or above from 2025 for new tenancies and from 2028 for existing tenancies. Instead, he stated that households would be encouraged to improve efficiency where they can.
As a responsible landlord, you will have been working towards this legislation, which was two bands higher than the previous E minimum that had been in force for new lets since 2018 and for existing tenancies since 2020.
The previously proposed change in ratings, although an initial expense for landlords, was seen to be a positive attempt to cut emissions, improve the standard of living for tenants and reduce the financial burden through improved efficiency of energy and therefore lower bills. This, in turn, would help to lower the costs associated with renting, prove more attractive to tenants and lead to tenants staying longer and generating potentially higher returns for landlords.
Although the pressure may be off for landlords, the benefits for tenants, and by default landlords, of improved energy efficiency remain the same. That means retrofitting older properties to improve energy efficiency should still be on your to-do list. Below we outline the measures you can DIY and those where you might need to call in the professionals.
Inexpensive DIY retrofit measures
1) LED bulbs and smart plugs
LED bulbs are an easy fix to reduce energy usage and therefore cost. Similarly, smart plugs can control lighting and other devices so that they are only used when required, rather than being left on for extended lengths of time.
Adding draughtproofing to windows and doors is another cheap solution. Window film, door or window seals and letterbox draught excluders can all help to reduce the amount of cold air entering a property and prevent heat from escaping.
3) Hot water controls and insulation
Hot water insulation can reduce wasted heat, for instance, an insulated jacket on traditional hot water cylinder tanks or insulation on pipes. Low-flow fittings can also help reduce consumption and therefore waste.
Measures that may need professionals
Double glazing should be one of the first measures to consider if the property you are letting doesn’t have it already, since it will also help to reduce noise and improve security for tenants and is, therefore, a big draw. Secondary glazing, where an extra pane of glass or plastic is added to the inside of an existing window, is a cheaper and easier solution in the interim.
2) Loft, wall and floor insulation
Insulation is key to maintaining heat within the home. While you could insulate a loft yourself, other measures, such as external and internal wall insulation, will need you to call the experts. Floor insulation can also help to retain heat.
The issue of heating upgrades to improve energy efficiency was one of the most contentious of the EPC upgrade scheme since it was also amongst the most expensive. Inefficient boilers waste energy and the drive is towards fossil-free homes with a focus on heat pumps or biomass boilers. On existing boilers, however, the installation of smart heating controls can allow tenants to control the heating remotely, ensuring they switch the heating on only when they are about to come home from work, for example.
4) Solar power
Installing solar panels on roofs can also improve energy efficiency since the property is now generating energy itself.
Understanding the cost
In 2017 the Government put together a guide to the indicative costs of improving the energy efficiency of dwellings through measures like these. The Government’s landlord guidance on the minimum energy efficiency standards also includes estimated costs as well as the typical savings they generate and the rating after improvements. Meanwhile, LETI’s (London Energy Transformation Initiative) Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide sets out what a good retrofit looks like for existing homes, targeting energy consumption reductions of 60 to 80% for the average home.
Here at ludlowthompson we have been in business for 30 years which means we’ve witnessed a retrofit or two. To find out more about energy efficiency improvements you can make for your rental properties, and how that will help you attract tenants, get in touch with an expert at your local branch today. We offer a range of services and promise to deliver maximum performance, communication and trust for the London market.
Although the pressure may be off for landlords, the benefits for tenants, and by default landlords, of improved energy efficiency remain the same. That means retrofitting older properties to improve energy efficiency should still be on your to-do list
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