Best Ways to Improve the Energy Efficiency of your BTL Property

The cost-of-living crisis in the UK has partly been driven by substantial energy price increases. And that’s bad news for you as a landlord. You might pay for energy as part of the rental price, which means a hefty increase in your overheads. However, most rentals don’t include energy bills, but if your tenants are struggling to pay their energy bills, you might find they can’t pay you the rent on time or at all.

Having your rental property as energy efficient as possible is good for the planet, you and your tenants. The more energy efficient the property is, the more adequately your tenants can heat the property and stay warm without heat and money escaping. If you are currently looking for new tenants, you can bet that top on the list of most renters is if they can afford to heat the property. So, having a proven energy-efficient property is super important if you want your property to be both attractive and affordable.

In addition to these essential factors in making your BTL property more energy efficient, landlords need to be aware of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations coming into place on April 1st 2023. From this date, all future or existing tenancies may only be granted to properties with a minimum EPC rating of E. These rolling changes are expected to demand higher minimum EPC ratings in the future. By April 1st 2027, the minimum EPC rating is expected to be C, which will increase to B by April 1st 2030.

Let’s look at how you can improve the energy efficiency of your BTL property in several ways.

The right property

If you are currently looking to acquire an additional BTL property, then some properties are naturally going to be more efficient than others. Generally speaking, the newer the home, the more energy efficient it will be. Almost all property built from 2012 has a top-level A or B energy performance certificate (EPC). However, only 40% of older properties have the same top-performing A or B standard.

Aside from choosing newer properties and checking the EPC rating of older properties, you should also consider the property type. A flat or apartment will be more energy efficient than a semi-detached house. Similarly, a detached house will be less energy efficient than a semi-detached one.

Draught proofing

A cheap way to stop heat escaping is to consider some draught-proofing measures. You could use several steps to prevent draughts, such as fitting rubber strips to windows and doors. You can ensure letter boxes are not draughty by using a letterbox with a brush or an electronic one.

If there are cracks in the skirting boards, you can use silicone or decorator’s caulk to fill them in. Heavier curtains are a cheap and easy way that stops heat from escaping through windows. You might want to consider rugs or carpets if you have tile or wooden flooring.

Radiator valves

It’s up to your tenants how high or low they turn the thermostat on the boiler, but this has the effect of heating all the radiators in the home at that temperature. If radiator valves are fitted, your tenants can turn off the heat in rooms that are not occupied.

Loft insulation

Because heat rises, it is estimated that 25% of heat in the home is lost from poorly insulated lofts. It’s reasonably quick and easy to insulate a loft; all you need to do is lay down insulation. You can use either glass wool, cellulose or rock wall to do this. The correct thickness recommended is 27 cm for glass wool, 22 cm for cellulose and 25 cm if using rock wall.

Double glazing

All modern properties will have double glazing, but if you have an older property, perhaps some terraced housing, it’s well worth the cost of installing double glazing to vastly improve the energy performance and security of the property. Many tenants will not rent a home without double-glazing due to these concerns.

Double glazing works by having two panes of glass with a small amount of air inside. Heat requires an excellent conductor to travel, and the limited space between the two glass sheets limits the heat’s ability to escape. The durable nature of PVC or aluminium frames also prevents heat loss.

LED bulbs

One of the easiest ways to reduce energy bills is to fit LED bulbs. You will know if you pick up a bulb to change that has just blown; if it’s a conventional bulb, it is scorching hot. While the bulb produces light, much energy is lost as heat. LED bulbs reduce this waste of energy and money by converting 95% of the energy into light.

Smart meters

Smart meters are an excellent way for tenants to manage bills in real-time. With smart meters, you know exactly how much energy you are using, so there is no shock when the bill comes in. Before energy meters, bills were often estimated, and actual meter readings might be gained infrequently if the meter is not read or the customer doesn’t provide an accurate reading. This can lead to getting into debt and not being able to pay the bill when it arrives.

Allowing or arranging for a smart meter in the property will let your tenants know what they are spending and to cut down if needed. A spiralling energy debt could result in your tenants moving out or being unable to pay your rent, so this simple free measure is a boon. You can request a smart meter from your energy supplier.

Best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your BTL property: Things to Remember

Making your BTL property more energy efficient has many advantages. Tenants are looking for homes that they can afford to heat. The energy and cost-of-living crisis has no end in sight. So if you want your home to be affordable for tenants to run, it’s vital that you help them by offering property that allows them to stay warm and pay their energy bills as well as your rent.

The things you can do include:

  • Ensure that properties you acquire have an EPC rating of A or B. You can do this by seeking out newer properties built from 2012 onwards or checking older properties. Apartments are more energy efficient than semi-detached, typically more efficient than detached properties.
  • Draught-proofing measures such as sealing windows, doors, letter boxes and skirting boards are cheap and effective. You can also consider heavier curtains and carpeting wooden or tiled floors.
  • Radiator valves will allow tenants to control the heating in each room and save money on their energy bills.
  • Poorly insulated lofts can lose 25% of the heat in the home, but they can be cheaply insulated by using rolls of cellulose, glass or rock wool.
  • Double glazing is a more expensive option but will make your property far more attractive to tenants due to increased security and energy performance.
  • LED bulbs are a quick way to reduce bills and can be more than 80% more efficient than standard bulbs.
  • An excellent way for your tenants to manage their energy bills is by contacting your energy supplier to arrange for a free smart meter to be fitted.

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