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Why should I make my property eco-friendly?

Posted on 2015-08-19

Conscious of the impacts of climate change and rising energy costs, more and more landlords are choosing to go green. However, many landlords don’t choose the eco option because of the costs involved, thinking that it’ll make little difference to the marketability of their property. But, with many tenants conscious of their bills and grants available to help with the costs of home improvements, making a property eco-friendly can be a great idea. Here’s why.

Why make a home more eco-friendly?

Energy performance certificates, or EPCs as they’re also known, were introduced in 2008 in the hope that they’d help improve the energy efficiency of buildings. If you’re a private landlord, you’re legally required to provide an EPC to your tenant. Many now include them in the property listings for convenience.

From the EPC, a prospective tenant should be able to get a reasonable idea of how much they’ll be paying in bills. As such, the better your EPC rating is, the lower the cost of bills will be, and the more attractive your property will seem.

So, if you significantly improve the EPC rating of your property and lower the costs of bills, you may be able to charge a higher rent, as this will be offset against the savings the tenant will make on bills.

Plus, a warmer property is more attractive to tenants and will stand out against others on the market, giving you an advantage over the competition.

Making a home more energy efficient

New buildings may be double or even triple glazed, but older homes, particularly more traditional and period ones tend to be much less efficient. For instance, period sash windows may be beautiful but they’re also very draughty. However, through secondary glazing or fitting shutters, they can be easily insulated, which would improve the EPC rating.

Although installing solar panels is a great idea, it isn’t always possible. There are, however, a number of other options you can explore, including:

Installing a new boiler – if your boiler is quite old, then it’s likely to be inefficient. Although this is a costly job, you’ll notice an immediate change in the EPC rating of your property and a new, energy efficient boiler can be a big lure for tenants keen to save money on heating in the winter months. What’s more, a new boiler will theoretically be less likely to break down, saving you money on maintenance costs.

Insulating loft spaces and cavity walls – something as simple as wall and loft insulation can cut bills by hundreds of pounds annually. Plus, if you don’t currently have any loft or cavity wall insulation, the savings are not only large, they’re immediate, so your tenants should notice an instant difference. And don’t miss out on an opportunity to save money - always make sure to check with your local council to see f they have any grants or schemes in place for landlords.

Low-flow toilets – low-flow toilets, also known as low-flush toilets, use far less water than their equivalents, using 6 litres per flush compared to the 13 litres that older toilets use. As such, if your buy-to-let has more than one bathroom, or if it’s home to a large family, this could lead to a saving on water bills.

Eco-bulbs – Finally, installing eco-bulbs can make a difference to the eco-friendliness of the property. The technology behind these has improved massively over the course of the past decade, and they’re now similar in effectiveness to non-eco-friendly bulbs.

How grants and allowances can reduce costs

If you’re looking to carry out these (or any other) environmentally friendly housing works, then it’s well worth taking a detailed look at any grants, allowances and tax breaks available.

Although making a property more eco-friendly may seem high cost, these grants and allowances can make it much more affordable. 

The UK government recently signed a pledge that commits the country to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% by 2050. When this agreement was signed, housing was identified as a key area where potential savings could be made. To aid the process, regulations were drawn up for new builds. However, much work still needs to be done on older properties, which is why grants were introduced, with older properties making up much of the market.

From the Green Deal to the Renewable Heating Incentive, there are a number of grants available for just about anything, so take a good look before you plan any work. For example, many landlords and homeowners alike believe solar panels are the most expensive eco-improvement.

However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, and feed-in tariffs (which have been available since 2010) mean that people who generate their own energy through solar panels or wind turbines can receive regular payments from energy suppliers. You don’t get money for installing the panels, but you can get a tailored loan for this, so it’s well worth considering whether your property would be suitable.

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