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Let’s conserve energy, let’s save money

24/01/22Let’s conserve energy, let’s save money

Lettings are a good way of using property as an investment and an income. But when it comes to management and upkeep, they bring with them their own set of challenges. In recent years, the rules have tightened considerably for landlords who let residential properties, with regards to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations. New legislation introduced on 1 April 2020 means that the requirement for let homes to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E or above applied to existing residential tenancies – as well as new lettings.

Consequently, since April 2020 landlords cannot continue to let any domestic property (subject to a number of exemptions) if it had an EPC rating of F or G. Any exemptions registered between 1 October 2017 and 31 March 2019 (and granted under the ‘no cost to the landlord’ rule) also came to an end on 31 March 2020. As a result of this, landlords are now obliged to carry out any energy improvement measures recommended in the EPC up to a cost of £3,500, in order to upgrade the property for it to be habitable.

Home improvements

There are many ways to be cost-effective in improving a rented property’s EPC rating. The recommendations on improving the energy efficiency of a property often tend to prioritise some of the more extensive and costly measures – such as adding roof or wall insulation, or installing new double glazing. But there are more cost-effective ways of getting a property up to standard and it’s worth exploring these with one of our surveyors, if you think an alternative option may be right for you.

This is due to there being a big cost difference between some of the options available. For example, if you wanted to add internal or external wall insulation, the indicative cost could be between £4,000-£14,000. A more economical alternative would be to install secondary glazing to the current single-glazed windows and also to add a room thermostat, to improve overall control of the heating system. This option would cost less than £2,000 and would raise the property to an E40 rating, which still meets the minimum requirement under MEES.

Upgrading efficiently

When considering how to upgrade your letting property efficiently, it’s well worth looking at some of the following options – either in isolation or as a combination – to see what savings can be achieved. You can install secondary glazing to windows, as a way of reducing heat loss and lowering energy usage. Individual room thermostats make sure that radiators or heaters aren’t labouring unnecessarily and bedroom thermostats on radiators are now mandatory anyway. Positioning your main heating thermostat in a room that accurately reflects your living accommodation – rather than a hall or corridor – also improves efficiency. Increased thicknesses of loft insulation can retain heat in upper floor rooms and stop loss into attic spaces and through the roof. Draught-proof windows and doors are another option that can reduce heat lost, though venting is essential to allow the building to breathe.

The government has recently proposed new EPC regulations that will change the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. These are planned to take effect in 2025; these changes will impact the domestic rental property in England and Wales. The new EPC regulations would mean that from 2025, your rented property would need to have a certification rating of C or above.

Every building is different, through age and design, and what works for one property may not work for another. Talking to one of our property management experts can help you identify areas where improvements can be made, and where maximum EPC ratings can be achieved.

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