6 Energy Efficiency Hacks for Landlords
Six smart energy hacks for landlords
Tenants are putting energy efficiency at the top of their must-haves thanks to steep energy price hikes. And, with EPC rating standards due to toughen up in 2025 landlords are under pressure to brush up on their properties’ energy efficiency.
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Recent evidence suggests at least half of UK tenants are worrying about energy costs, and it’s impacting their mental health. And unlike homeowners, they can’t choose to invest in big energy efficiency improvements. The result is that energy-conscious tenants are creating a growing demand for energy-efficient rental homes, meaning smart energy hacks can boost your returns.
Whether for our pockets or the planet or both, chances are you’ve already taken energy-saving steps. But with the rocketing energy prices and the food shop getting pricier by the day, let’s just say we’re all extra motivated to rein in our energy usage.
It can feel daunting,and knowing where to begin isn’t easy. But, as with so many things in life, you can work smarter, rather than harder. Here’s how.
1. Get a new EPC
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for ten years.
From 2025, all newly rented properties need an EPC rating of C or above, new proposals state, with all rented properties needing to follow suit by 2028. Currently, the minimum rating is an E, so some properties that are currently legal will drop below the benchmark and become unrentable if action isn’t taken – and unrentable may mean ‘unmortgageable’.
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) offers a benchmark that a property must achieve before it can be let. While some properties are exempt, most will have to check their property is up to scratch energy-wise.
As well as a rating, an EPC will rate things like your walls, roof, floor, heating and windows for their individual efficiency, then outline likely costs of improvements and typical yearly savings. And some improvements may be covered by Green Deal finance (more on that later).
A new EPC is a wise move to kick off with, as it gives you a ‘you are here’ of your property’s energy efficiency and then draws you a map with routes to a better, more rentable property.
2. Show draughts the door
It’s so simple but actually one of the most effective ways to increase energy efficiency. Draught-proofing is quick, cheap, and doesn’t involve turning your tenant’s world upside down with weeks of hammering and drilling.
We’re talking about blocking up any unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out, which means your heating system doesn’t have to work as hard, meaning less energy is used.
While you can DIY it with draught excluders, we recommend getting a professional draught-proofing company in, so you get the right materials in the right places to ensure the bills go down and your energy rating goes up.
3. Low-energy lighting
It’s true: a little glass bulb can boost your rentability. Once upon a time, lightbulbs were often the tenant’s domain because they’d need changing every few months. However, nowadays, energy-efficient bulbs can last a decade, so it’s worth investing in the right bulbs upfront. You’ll gain from it as lighting affects your EPC rating, and the tenant benefits because their bills will be lower. It’s a seriously underrated move – you read it here first!
And where once energy-saving bulbs were dim, slow to get going and rather ugly, you can now choose from an array of attractive options, including:
- Colour-changing smart bulbs,
- 3D-effect spotted bulbs
- Our personal favourite – vintage-look filament bulbs
4. Sweat the big stuff
At the heftier end of the spectrum from a lightbulb are major upgrades. Yes, the price tag is higher, but the returns are decent, especially over time – but legwork is key.
The big upgrades we’re talking about are things like:
- Insulation. Loft, walls, floor, water cylinder
- Windows. Double or triple glazing
- Heating systems. Boiler upgrades, air/ground source heat pumps, solar power
Not everything is for everyone. For instance, if you’re planning to sell a property in five years, you would (understandably) baulk at spending thousands on solar panels. But, if you have a bills-included arrangement and plan to keep the property for 20 years it could be a really smart move.
Likewise, if you have a tiny back garden, a ground source heat pump simply won’t fit, but if you have acres of ground then you could be putting that to work and heating your tenants’ home for much less.
So, talk to the experts. Talk to plenty of them, get them round to the property, and get the full picture on costs and any downsides.
5. Boost your spending power
For the bigger upgrades, financial help is available from the government, energy companies and other organisations. Exactly what funds are available for your property depends on where you are and what you plan to do, but there are plenty of guides out there and easy ways to check eligibility.
Some examples of funding sources are so-called energy company obligations (ECOs), grants from your local council, or Green Deal finance. And yes, rental properties are eligible in many cases.
ECO support is usually tied to there being someone living in the property who claims one of a list of benefits. Energy companies are obligated to partner up with installers to deliver insulation or heating measures for those who have little spending power of their own. If your tenant is elderly or on a low wage, you could consider approaching them to sound them out on working together to claim ECO support. There is nothing to lose by trying.
You’ve probably already heard about Green Deal finance, where the government fronts the money for energy efficiency improvements, and then it’s paid back via a charge added to the property’s electricity bill. While that sounds like a hard sell for your tenant, in fact the charge should be less than they’d spend on extra energy if the improvement hadn’t been made, so it’s total win-win territory.
Last of all, bear in mind that in order to help landlords manage the costs of bringing properties up to energy standards, there is currently a spending cap of £3,500. This means you should be able to claim for anything over this amount, including anything carried out in the past few years – but always check the rules and support at the time.
6. Start now!
Don’t leave it until the government pushes you into upgrading – there are gains all round if you act quickly. It’s never too soon to cut your bills and your carbon footprint – a win for you, your property, your tenants and the planet.