A landlord’s guide to reducing energy bills

With price-hikes seemingly always in the news and concerns around the cost of living, ensuring that your property is energy-efficient is never a bad idea, for you or your tenants.

Whether you’re a landlord of a one-bedroom flat or the owner of a chain of luxury hotels, these tips will help you cut down on your overheads – as well as doing your bit for the environment. But how efficient is your property currently? One good indicator is the EPC, which gives you an ‘at a glance’ look at how your place stacks up energy-wise.

EPC rating

What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) gives an overview of a property’s energy efficiency. The rating varies from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years.

EPC rating is primarily used by potential buyers or renters to estimate how much their energy bills will cost in their new house or flat. That being said, these costs are based on the average energy prices at the time of the inspection, which means that the information on the EPC could be up to a decade out of date.

How can I apply for an EPC?

As a landlord, you are legally required to give tenants a valid EPC.

To get an EPC, you’ll need to arrange an assessment for your property. Depending on the size of your property and the chosen assessor, the cost may vary. It can start from £60, so do shop around.

You can find a nearby accredited assessor on the Government’s register.

As a landlord, how does EPC affect me?

Regardless of the property being a new rental property or an occupied rental property that tenants are already renting, you must ensure that your property has a rating of “E” or higher on the EPC scale.

If your property receives an “F” or “G” band, it’s a legal requirement to improve its energy efficiency rating, and if you don’t comply, you will face a hefty fine of up to £5,000.

On the flip side, the energy efficiency improvements are capped at £3,500, including VAT, meaning you as a landlord should never be asked to pay more than £3,500 to improve the energy rating. If you can show that the improvements will cost more than this amount, you can register for an exemption.

How can I keep my energy costs down?

Here are our tips to keep your energy cost down and reduce your expenses:

LED lights in kitchen

1. Switch to energy-efficient lighting

According to Energy Saving Trust, lighting accounts for 15% of a typical household’s electricity bill in the UK. Switching to energy-efficient lighting is the fastest way to cut your energy bills.

You can save up to £40 a year by switching to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LEDs which use less energy and cost a lot less in the long run.

The price of LEDs has decreased in the past few years, making them more affordable and they last longer – which saves you money as you don’t need to replace them as often. LED light bulbs can last up to 20 years, so more and more landlords are switching to them.

You can also consider using controls such as dimmers and timers to dim the lights or turn them completely off, when not in use, in areas such as the communal areas, corridors and lifts to save energy.

2. Install energy-efficient appliances

Energy-efficient appliances such as cookers, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers will definitely reduce your rental property’s power consumption. For example, landlords could save up to £113 a year just by switching to a more efficient fridge freezer. Newer white goods are often significantly more energy-efficient than ones that have been around a few years.

choosing a boiler

3. Pay closer attention to the boiler

With time boilers can become less efficient and cost you more money.  A new condensing boiler has an efficiency of around 90%, however, a non-condensing boiler will only offer about 75%, this difference could mean a saving of around £150 per year in a semi-detached house.

As a rule of thumb, you should replace your boiler every 10-15 years depending on the brand and how well it has been maintained. It is worth looking at the most energy-efficient boilers when you’re shopping around.

If you’re looking to replace your old boiler with a shiny, super-efficient new boiler, you can get an instant online quote with WarmZilla.

4. Invest in energy-efficient windows

Installing A-rated double glazing to windows will reduce your energy bills by up to £75 – for a semi-detached gas heated property. It will also keep your property warmer in the winter months which will benefit you and your tenant.

5. Improve your draught-proofing

This is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy. You can either get a professional to do the job or carry out simple DIY tasks to draught-proof your property- only if you feel comfortable.

The most common areas to find draught are windows, doors, chimneys, floorboards and skirting boards, loft hatches, pipeworks, old extractor fans and cracks in the walls.

6. Install programmable thermostats and heating controls

According to Energy Saving Trust, you can save £70 and 300kg of carbon dioxide a year by installing and correctly using a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves – this is based on a typical three-bedroom semi-detached home, heated by gas. Figures are based on fuel prices as of June 2021. Even better, room thermostats enable your tenants to just use the heat they need in the rooms they want.

converting the loft

7. Upgrade your loft insulation

Better loft installation certainly reduces heat loss through the roof, so needless to say, you will see significant savings on energy bills.

If done correctly, loft insulation should pay for itself many times over in its 40-year lifetime which makes it an excellent return on investment.

8. Use water-efficient showerheads

You can now save money without compromising on hot, powerful showers in your rental property with water-efficient showerheads.

Eco showerheads can dispense less water which means they reduce water consumption by up to 50%, depending on the type of shower you have. To put this into perspective, you can see instant savings on the water bill.

Don’t forget to fix water drips, as the water that escapes from a dripping shower adds up over time.

9. Solar Panels

Solar panels are pricey but by installing solar panels you can generate your own renewable electricity, reducing bills and your carbon footprint.

You can also receive money for the extra energy you generate and don’t use by selling it back to your electricity supplier. This is called an ‘export tariff’ – where you get paid 5.24p per unit for putting excess energy back into the grid.

10. Track your utility bills

One of the big mistakes landlords and tenants make is not keeping abreast of what’s actually going out. Most utility companies now have a range of smartphone apps and energy monitoring tools, not least the ubiquitous smart meters that are appearing in most homes.

Keeping a close eye on usage means that if you notice a spike around a certain activity, appliance or even time of day, you’ll know what you need to do to bring the expenses down as quickly as possible.

Are these tips right for me?

Most of these tips will be handy if you’re a landlord with periodic or rolling contracts and have tenants for short periods of time or tenants who are likely to move around. What you don’t want as a landlord is your property sitting empty for long spells, and getting your energy usage as efficient as it can be is definitely worthwhile if you want to snap up tenants quickly!

In summary…

While it can seem like a hassle to chase up suppliers, check out how efficient your appliances are or do a bit of digging around with the loft insulation, fixing your energy efficiency will undoubtedly pay for itself long-term. Additionally, more efficient properties mean happier tenants, and that’s good news if you don’t want your property standing empty and bringing it no rent for a long period of time.