Energy Efficiency— What Can Tenants Do?

Renters can often feel powerless when it comes to making their home more energy efficient, as they are unable to do (or unwilling to pay for) things like replacing the boiler or getting double-glazing. Luckily, there are a few cheap & simple things you can do as a tenant to make your home more eco-friendly.

Get the House Insulated (for free!)

Many people think that they can’t benefit from free insulation schemes because they rent. This simply isn’t true — all you need is permission from your landlord. Installing loft insulation is quick & painless and normally takes less than two hours. Installing cavity wall insulation sounds daunting, but all it takes is a few small drill holes and 2 – 3 hours of work. Both will instantly make your home warmer and allow you to turn the heating down. To see if your home is suitable, book a free survey here.

Change Appliances

This might be tricky if your rented property is already furnished, but if your appliances belong to you then check their energy efficiency rating and consider replacing them. Electric cookers and tumble driers are particularly energy-hungry.

Switch Energy Providers

If you pay your gas and electricity bills directly to the energy company, then you have the right to switch suppliers. Many suppliers are now offering “green” or “eco-friendly” electricity. In any case, you can shop around to find a cheaper deal. If your utility bills are included in your rent, then you could speak to your landlord about switching to a cheaper energy provider.

Energy Saving Light Bulbs

A quick and easy way to reduce you energy usage is to replace any older incandescent light bulbs with newer energy efficient ones. Just make sure you turn them off when you leave the room!

Put Reflective Panels Behind Your Radiators

These reflect heat back into the room and prevent it from being lost through the walls (and were mentioned in last week’s article 7 of our Favourite Energy Saving Devices). You can either buy them or have a go making them yourself with some cardboard and foil. Then when you leave the property you can simply take them with you.

Get Plastic Secondary Glazing

If your rented property has old, single-glazed windows, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to pay hundreds to replace them when it’s not even your house. You can however buy a plastic secondary glazing kit, which will improve their thermal performance for a fraction of the cost.

Remove Draughts

Although it isn’t your responsibility as a tenant to undertake major repairs or construction work, you do have the right to carry out “reasonable improvements” as long as you get your landlords permission. Most landlords will be happy for you to fit simple draught excluders around your door and letterbox, caulk gaps under the skirting boards and so on.

External Wall Insulation

This applies if you live an older property that doesn’t have cavity walls. If you are on a low income and receiving certain benefits, it may be possible to get your house insulated from the outside for free (which would normally cost up to £8000) through the GEARS scheme. Even if you don’t qualify to get it done free, your landlord you may be able to recover some of the cost through the Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance. This allows them to claim up to £1,500 against tax every year for the cost of energy-saving products. Your landlord should be interested, as they will benefit from a higher energy efficiency rating, a more attractive house and a higher property value.

As of 1st October 2008, all landlords are obliged provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when renting out a property to new tenants, and by 1st April 2018 all rented properties must achieve at least an “E” rating. This means that it’s in your landlord’s best interests to make their property more energy efficient — especially in older properties, as they will soon have an obligation to meet a minimum standard for energy performance.

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