by Ben Luxon July 17, 2019 5 min read

With the impacts of climate change becoming ever more evident, and fast rising energy costs, more and more renters are moving “energy efficient” towards the top of their list of desired rental features. However, when it comes to making improvements on the property many Landlords aren’t prioritising eco-friendly options. The costs involved are too steep and they don’t realise the difference this can make to the marketability and value of their property.

But, as we said many tenants are actively looking for ‘greener’ properties, making your property more environmentally friendly can be a great idea to help secure valuable tenants and retain them.

Why would you consider making your property more eco-friendly?

A lot of the time when someone talks about making a property more environmentally friendly people immediately think of solar panels. But the cost of solar panels is quite prohibitive and with such a large up front cost it can seem hard to imagine you’ll reap justifiable financial returns.

Eco-friendly houses

However, there are a lot of smaller and more affordable changes that can be made around a home that will improve the overall efficiency of the property. Careful sums need to be done before these improvements are made, but done right even minor adjustments to a property could increase the value of your rental property and make it much more appealing to tenants.

Who wants eco-friendly homes?

Many people are becoming more environmentally aware, especially in the UK and throughout Europe. The evidence of the damage that humans have done to the planet is hard to avoid for anyone that watches the news, routinely goes on the internet, or ever uses social media (so pretty much everyone). 

People are more and more willing to take choose the option that is better for our planet - even if it costs them more or is less convenient. Just look at the plastic bag tax? People might have gotten annoyed at first, but the tax has reduced our plastic bag use by 85% since 2015! We have moved towards a more sustainable use of reusable bags and people are proud of that fact.

On top of this, the most environmentally conscious generation (millennials, born approximately 1982 to 2004) are quickly becoming the largest renting demographic. 

This means they’re far more likely to want some element of eco-friendliness in their homes, especially as they begin to (or already have) children. 

Along with the typical eco-friendly types, many families also like to be environmentally conscious, and while women tend to be more earth friendly than men, the number of both is growing.

Eco-friendly houses

Government grants and support

If you are considering your eco-friendly options it is 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 along with a vast number of countries worldwide recently signed a pledge that commits the country to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% by 2050.

Housing has been identified as a key area where a big difference in energy consumption nationwide can be improved. To help the process new regulations and plans were drawn up for new builds, however a lot of work still needs to be done on older homes. For this purpose a number of grants were introduced.

For example, the Green Deal and the Renewable Heating Incentive both aim to incentivise eco-friendly upgrades to older homes. It is well worth then, doing some research to see if there are any grants available for you before you start work on any improvements.

When it comes to solar panels, many people only see the prohibitive up front costs. However, with the feed-in tariffs (which have been available since 2010) people who generate their own energy through solar panels or wind turbines can add their extra energy to the national grid and receive payment for it.

Eco-friendly houses

My Grandfather invested in solar panels years ago and with the grants he got at that time, and the current feed-in tariffs his solar panels will have covered the cost of the install (as well as all his energy demand since the install) and begin generating a profit by 2020...

How to make the home more energy efficient

New buildings are all designed to be eco-friendly with good insulation in the walls and roof as well as double - or even triple glazing. Older buildings though particularly period ones tend to be draughty, with ill fitting doors, and single glazed sash windows, which, whilst beautiful, leak heat like sieves. Installing double glazing or fitted shutters are just one easy way to improve and old building EPC rating.

As we mentioned, solar panels are an obvious option, but they aren’t always possible, and they aren’t the cheapest option. Here are 5 more ways that you can consider to make your property more energy efficient.

1. Install a new boiler

Old boilers are notoriously inefficient, they are also liable to breaking (maintenance fees can end up costing more than a new boiler in some cases!), and just less effective than newer designs. For all of these reasons, new boilers are a big draw for new tenants. Nobody wants an elderly boiler that gives out after ineffectively heating the building in the dead of winter. We’ve all been there, and we’ve all hated it.

2. Insulating loft spaces and cavity walls

Something as simple as properly insulating your loft can have a huge impact on energy bills. Insulating an older home could save tenants hundreds annually. Plus, the impact if the current insulation is poor or non-existent, is instantaneous. Your tenants will very quickly notice the warmth that the new insulation retains.

And don’t miss out on an opportunity to save money - always make sure to check with your local council to see if they have any grants or schemes in place for landlords.

3. Low-flow toilets

Low flow toilets use less than half the amount of water to flush than the more traditional counterparts. If a property has more than one toilet or it;s a large family home, swapping to low-flow could have a big impact on water bills. 

4. Eco-bulbs 

Eco-friendly houses

We all know the bulbs that take an age to turn on and give off an inadequate orange glow that fails to really light up a room. We don’t mean those. The technology behind energy efficient bulbs has improved massively over the last few years and they are now similar in effectiveness to non-eco-friendly ones, only they use far less energy.

It’s well worth focusing on bulbs, because people are bad at remembering to turn them off, notoriously bad.

5. Smart meters and electricity

Smart metres can help reduce energy consumption and bills particularly in winter. They give you a much more complete control over your energy consumption - carefully and accurately monitoring gas and electricity readings and allowing careful adjustments to the system from your smart-phone - even when you’re not at home.

Find out more about eco-friendly technologies for rentals 

Ben Luxon

"Ben is an author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks. His love of travelling has taken him to over 10 countries in the last year, where he has sampled the craft beer of them all."

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