Give your property an energy efficiency boost without having to consult your landlord.

It’s tough being a tenant. Not only do you have to contend with increasing rent prices, but you can’t even do anything with the magnolia walls you’re paying to look at every day. Plus you’re often hit with the highest fuel bills because it’s up to your landlord to make the property energy efficient.

But just because you’re unable to make big ticket improvements such as insulation and double glazing doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a tenancy of wasted energy costs. Nor does it mean you can’t talk your landlord round to making energy efficient upgrades, providing you’re armed with the right info.

What you can do

There are lots of simple and effective measures you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency – most of which you can do without having to inform your landlord.

  • Change your light bulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing all bulbs in your home with LED alternatives could save about £35 a year on your electricity bills.
  • Put reflectors behind your radiators. This is a cheap and easy way of blasting heat around the room, instead of letting it soak into the walls. Learn how to make the most of your radiators here.
  • Floors – especially ground floors – lose a lot of heat. If your home has laminate flooring or bare floorboards, invest in some decent rugs to keep the heat in and your toots toasty.
  • Upgrade your appliances. Items such as kettles, toasters and microwaves are huge energy drains, so make sure yours are as efficient as possible with an A++ energy rating. It’s a bit trickier when it comes to large white goods such as fridges, freezers and washing machines since that’s usually your landlord’s remit, but if they do need to be replaced for some reason be sure to ask for a greener alternative.
  • Deal with draughts. As a tenant you’re not allowed to carry out major work on a property, but you can – with your landlord’s permission – make ‘reasonable improvements’. So on a chilly day spend a few minutes ambling around your house and feel for cold spots – usually by windows, doors, letter boxes and skirting boards – then take action with simple draft strips and excluders around the offending areas, and with caulk or silicone around gaps in brickwork and interior fixtures. If single-glazed windows are a particular problem invest in some decent thermal curtains to keep out the cold or secondary film. Learn more about DIY draught-proofing here.
  • Talk to your local council or energy provider. Some run comprehensive energy efficiency initiatives that involve sending a specialist round to advise you on ways you can save energy (and money!) as well as providing lots of energy-saving goodies and gadgets, all for free!

What you can ask your landlord to do

Sadly, there are many landlords out there that are content to expend minimal effort while watching the rent money roll in. But there are also a lot of decent landlords that want to make sure their property remains a good business investment for them, and are prepared to listen to the concerns of their tenants. So, if you’d like to see your property insulated or double-glazed – or even fitted with renewable energy technology – you’ve nothing to lose by at least asking, and making sure your landlord is clued up on the schemes designed to make energy efficiency improvements more appealing.

  • For starters, consider the property’s energy performance certificate. Landlords are required by law to produce this document for new tenants, and in this cash-strapped climate a property offering better energy performance is going to be more highly sought after. Any property that is an E or F has to by law be improved up to the value of £3,500 but unfortunately there are quite a few exemptions.
  • There are some financial incentives available to landlords for energy efficiency. In Scotland, for example, there’s the Private Rented Sector Landlord Loans, as well as the HEEPS Equity Loan, both intended to support landlords that want to make efficiency improvements to their properties. UK-wide, meanwhile, there are a number of incentives for renewable technology. Point your landlord in the direction of the Energy Saving Trust, which will be able to give advice on exactly what help is available.
  • Finally, investigate loft and cavity wall insulation offers in your area. Many councils, local suppliers and utility companies operate schemes that allow landlords to insulate their properties for a greatly subsidised price, if not completely free. Be sure to remind them that loft insulation is an extremely simple job – the installer will usually be in and out within two hours!

The bottom line

If you rent your property the simple fact is that you won’t be able to make it as energy efficient as it could be without at least some input from your landlord – and some will be more receptive than others! Nonetheless, there are still things you can do that will make a tangible difference to both your energy consumption and your energy bills, so you can still play an important role in helping the environment by tackling climate change.

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