Energy Saving Tips for Landlords

- 19/02/2024

Est. 7 mins

Energy Saving Tips for Landlords blog header

Making your rental property more energy efficient isn’t just a socially responsible choice – it’s a savvy business move that will help to protect your investment. In fact, prioritising energy saving can increase the value of your property, lower your operational costs overtime, and help you to turn happy tenants into long-term investments.

Check out these energy saving tips for landlords of HMOs and single let properties and start making cost-effective decisions to protect your property, tenants, and the planet today!

Energy saving tips for landlords of HMOs

If you own and let out a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), utility costs are likely included in the price of your rent. This means energy bills are your responsibility as the landlord and you should take as many energy-saving measures as possible to protect your investment. 

Fair usage policies for HMO tenants

When utilities are included in the rent, HMO tenants tend to worry less about keeping utility costs low (e.g. by turning off the lights when they’re not in use or only using the heating when necessary). This means their energy use can get out of control. 

Our first top tip for landlords of HMOs is to educate tenants about energy use and have a fair usage policy in the tenancy agreement for cases where it’s being blatantly abused. 

While fair usage policies are necessary, they can be tricky to implement for HMOs as some tenants may be more conscientious than others. The key is to strike a balance. Gently remind your tenants of the policy without penalising those who are mindful of their energy use. If you impose a fair usage policy on the whole house you risk penalising the conscientious tenants and losing them, so only do this in extreme circumstances. 

Smart meters and energy monitors

Sometimes, when landlords set up new utility accounts after acquiring a property and converting it into an HMO, the energy supplier calculates the monthly direct debit based on the property’s past usage as a single dwelling. This leads to a substantial balance building up due to the gap between estimated readings and actual readings, and large direct debit increases to cover past debts and expected usage. Landlords then try to pass the sudden cost spike over to their tenants, assuming misuse. 

Smart meters play a vital role in preventing this confusion as they provide automatic meter readings to energy suppliers, which means accurate bills from the start of the tenancy.

Lady using an energy monitor

While energy monitors are not part of the smart meter system, these devices can work in tandem with smart meters to empower tenants and landlords to make informed decisions about energy saving. They provide a financial snapshot of energy use via an in-house display that can be viewed daily to help tenants stay in accordance with fair usage policies. Energy monitors were once provided as standard for new smart meter customers, but this is no longer the case and you may need to purchase yours separately.

Heating rights for tenants of HMOs and single let properties

When it comes to managing energy use in rental properties, there are rules about heating that must be followed. You can’t turn off tenants’ heating controls, for example, as tenants must have the ability to control their own heating. Likewise, if you have a remote thermostat you can only use it to reduce unreasonably high temperatures or to check that the temperature in the property is above the required standards set by the local authority. 

UK standards state that the heating system in HMOs and single let properties must be able to maintain a temperature of 18°C in sleeping rooms and 21°C in living rooms when the temperature outside is -1°C. It’s vital that your property complies with these standards. 

EPC Ratings for rental properties 

Another important consideration for landlords is your property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Rating. The UK Government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for England and Wales state that rental properties must have an EPC rating of E or above. It was recently proposed that rental properties should have an EPC rating of at least C, but this has since been scrapped. It’s not known whether new standards will be introduced in the future, so keep an eye out for changing regulations.  

Energy saving tips for single let properties

Unlike with HMOs, the utility costs for single let properties aren’t typically included in the price of rent. Despite this, it’s still in your best interest as the landlord to ensure your property is as energy efficient as possible. Why? Because inefficient properties cost tenants more money… 

For some time, the demand for single let rental properties has significantly outstripped supply which means tenants trying to find a home are in more desperate situations. They may give less thought to how energy efficient a property is and move in regardless of if they can afford the utility bills.

If tenants move into your property and struggle to pay the utility bills, one of two things can happen. Either they move out quickly, increasing your void periods and tenant turnover, or they fail to properly heat and ventilate the property, increasing your risk of condensation, damp, and mould (which can be very costly to fix!)Man pouring a coffee

Now you understand why saving energy is an important part of protecting your investment, let’s look at some of the ways you can make your rental property more energy efficient…

Tackling energy saving during property refurbishment

When it comes to property refurbishment, it can be tempting to cut corners to save costs. However, overlooking energy efficiency at this stage is a shortsighted strategy that will cost you more later down the line. 

If you’ve just bought a property or are thinking about refurbishment, it’s in your best interest to make energy-saving changes straight away. An upfront investment not only reduces the likelihood of future tenant issues but is also more cost-effective than retrospective measures in most cases.

Energy-saving refurbishment ideas

Here are some things to consider for your refurbishment: 

  • Loft and external wall insulation: Insulating your property’s loft and external walls is a great way to optimise its energy efficiency, particularly if your property has single skin external walls which are very inefficient. Consider external insulation or insulated plasterboards to tackle this.
  • Double glazing: Adding double glazing to windows improves insulation and helps keep your property warmer in winter and cooler in summer. 
  • Draft-proofing: Draft-proofing windows, doors, floors, and skirting boards is a low-cost, simple, and effective way to reduce heat loss.

Energy-efficient furnishings

If you’re not in a position to make large-scale changes right now, consider installing energy-efficient furnishings instead, such as:

  • Energy efficient lighting: Energy efficient bulbs not only last longer but also consume less energy, which means lower electricity bills!
  • Energy efficient appliances: If you provide your tenants with white goods (e.g. a fridge, washing machine, or oven), choose energy efficient options that consume less energy to lower utility costs over time.
  • Lined curtains or blinds: Lined curtains or blinds are a cost-effective way to provide an additional layer of insulation to keep your property warmer in winter and cooler in summer

Energy saving light bulb

Energy efficiency legislation is ever tightening so making changes like this now will help to future proof your property and ensure it can be let well into the future. Improvements like this can even increase the value of your property when it comes to refinancing or selling! 

Collaborate with a property management company that cares

At Purseglove, we’re experts in property management for HMOs and single let properties, and we also know a thing or two about refurbishment management

Unlock the full potential of your property with our support, and enjoy the peace of mind and free time that comes with it. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you to protect your investment, tenants, and the planet!

Get In Touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to know more about our services or the properties we manage. We’re always here to help!

Learn More