Our recent research showed that portfolio landlords put ‘environmentally friendly’ properties in their top three list of priorities when it comes to purchasing new homes. Being environmentally friendly doesn’t just help landlords contribute to a more sustainable future for everyone, but it can also save them money. A few tweaks around a property can cut unnecessary costs while making homes more eco-friendly. Here’s our guide on the key things landlords need to do to make an environmentally friendly difference to a property.
Every house must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), and making improvements to this is the first thing for landlords to tackle. Energy Performance Certificates measure the energy efficiency of a property on a scale of A-G (with A the most effective and G the worst).
The EPC is a legal requirement for a building to be sold, let, or constructed, and landlords need to get an up-to-date EPC every 10 years. In April 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force. This required all rental properties of new tenancies and renewals to have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ or above. Then, in April 2020, it changed again, so that Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards applied to all existing tenancies – not just new ones or renewals.
The higher the energy efficiency is for a property, the more environmentally friendly it is. Sustainability is a hot topic for most people right now and there are many ways landlords can help improve their EPC rating to make their properties much more environmentally friendly.
Let’s start with a simple fix. LED bulbs may cost more than traditional light bulbs, but that shouldn’t put people off using them. LED light bulbs tend to last much longer, so spending a little bit more initially will save money in the long run. LEDs are up to 80% more efficient, lasting longer and emitting more light.
Landlords can also improve eco-friendliness by installing smart lighting. Motion sensors trigger the lights when someone enters a space and then, after periods of inactivity, switch off. It’s also possible to switch smart lights off remotely, so you don’t need to worry about them being left on for hours if tenants have gone out.
Loft insulation: All properties must have good quality insulation or energy bills will, quite literally, go through the roof. On average, it’s estimated 25% of a home’s heat is lost through the roof. It’s essential then for landlords to check what’s in situ, because insulating the loft or roof is a simple and effective way to reduce heat loss and reduce heating bills.
Loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years, so it’s well worth the investment. If there’s nothing installed, or the existing insulation is 150mm (6 inches) or less, then add another layer to bring it up to the recommended 270mm.
Cavity walls: According the Energy Saving Trust, homes built after 1920 generally have cavity constructed external walls, made of two “skins” separated by a hollow space, or cavity, between them. Cavity wall insulation fills the hollow space, keeping the heat in and saving you energy. Filling empty cavity walls with wall insulation could be a very cost-effective way to retain heat in the property and save on energy bills.
Around one third of the heat loss from most homes is through the walls, so cavity insulation could save you up to £160 a year in heating bills. In fact, according to figures from the Energy Saving Trust, cavity wall insulation could pay for itself within less than five years.
Houses lose lots of heat through their windows and doors. In fact, it’s estimated that about 10% of a property’s heat escapes through glass. Energy-efficient double glazing can help reduce this.
Double glazing is basically two layers of glass with insulating gas trapped in between them, so that it acts not only as a shield against cold weather, but less heating is required too, which reduces the household bills – as well as helping the planet.
Other advantages of double glazing include noise reduction, increased security, a higher property value, less condensation, and less fading of objects close to windows and doors, as it reduces the amount of UV radiation that gets into the house.
Most importantly though, double glazing reduces energy consumption overall, making it much better for the environment.
The Energy Savings Trust estimates that heating accounts for about 55% of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so having an efficient boiler in a home makes a big difference.
Condensing boilers are the best eco-friendly option. Conventional boilers waste a lot of heat energy because they release hot gases through the ‘flue’. A condensing boiler, however, captures the wasted heat vapour and uses it to heat up water returning from the central heating system. It’s made more efficient by requiring less heat from the burner.
All new, modern boilers are now condensing boilers, and building regulations state that all boilers installed into new, domestic homes should be energy-efficient condensing boilers.
Smart meters record exactly how much gas and electricity is used by individual households and are a must for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint and decrease their energy bills. Smart meters accurately record the amount of energy used.
They can be programmed so that they only turn on at certain times of the day, and visible meters mean homeowners know exactly how much they are spending on what.
As part of a nationwide roll-out, every home in Britain should be offered a smart meter from their energy supplier by June 2025. Smart meters are part of the nation’s effort to create a smart grid, which is part of providing low-carbon, efficient and reliable energy to Britain's households and installing one is a great step to making to improving the EPC of a property.
Making these improvements to a property’s EPC certificate will go a long way into making the property environmentally-friendly, as well as cutting costs that is being wasted on energy bills.
If you’re a professional landlord looking for a loan for your residential portfolio, our expert team would be happy to help support your investment ambitions. Take a look at our Portfolio Buy-to-Let and Specialised Residential Investment loans to find out more.