This week I was helping my girlfriend’s younger brother move into his new flat in South-West London. He and a couple of mates are renting the property and it was interesting to see the state of the place before they moved in. This will be the first time for all of them that they are responsible for paying their own bills so I gave them a few tips on how to make energy savings. Here they are for you to see for yourself:
Install LED lighting
If you haven’t already made the switch to LED, what are you waiting for?! LED lighting uses about 10% of the energy compared to existing lighting, but lasts about 10 – 20 times longer too. Also unlike the old energy saving lighting which takes an age to get to full brightness, LED is instantaneous.
So my first recommendation is to buy LED lighting and replace all the existing lights. In an effort to make the investment more worthwhile, keep the existing bulbs in a box, so at the end of the rental period, you can take your LED bulbs with you to the new property!
Regardless of the type of fitting you have in your rented accommodation, you will be able to find an LED bulb to fit. Don’t wait until bulbs blow before making the switch, the quicker you do it the quicker you will start saving.
Get some sort of heating controls in place
One of the biggest issues with rented accommodation is that they tend to get neglected and lack investment. That means typically the boilers are older than the residents so anything you can do to minimise their ‘on’ time is useful!
There are a few different types of heating controls, but at the very list you want a programmer so you can try and set the heating pattern around those living in the house. If everyone is out during the day there seems very little point in having the heating switched on to the max.
In an ideal world you will also have a thermostat installed in the property – this needs to be set to the maximum temperature you ever want to reach in the home. About 190c is normal but for every degree you can bear to turn the thermostat down you will see an annual saving of about £50 – so not to be sniffed at!
Find draughts and block them!
As mentioned, rental properties often take a back seat in terms of home improvements! Since the owners of the properties aren’t living there, they see no need to put new windows in or replace old draughty doors. It tends to be pretty clear where draughts are coming into the home because you can feel them, but a DIY way to find draughts is to use a incense stick. The smoke will blow around where there is air coming in or out.
There are loads of ways to deal with draughts, but methods include blocking any holes, using draught proofing strips that can be purchased for £5-10 or even using every day items you have at home to stop them. We have seen people use cling film to act as secondary glazing – it is pretty rudimentary but it will still help!
Change energy tariff
A really simple way to save money in your rented property is to swap to a cheaper energy tariff. Traditionally people stay with one supplier forever and a day, but by shopping around (or better still letting comparison websites do it for you), you can find cheaper tariffs available.
The only difficult thing here is that the comparison sites need to know your energy usage history to accurately set you up with a new supplier (and give you accurate future energy savings). To be honest, all this will do is set your future direct debits, which can be adjusted as time goes on. Bear in mind most energy companies tend to charge the same amount on a monthly basis – so you build up a balance during the summer and then this surplus is used to help cover the higher winter bills once your heating goes on.
If you don’t have any idea of what numbers to use, we would recommend putting in 4,000 kWh of electricity and 15,000 kWh of gas. This is for an average home with average usage, but it should be okay to get you started. As mentioned, if going forward your actual energy usage is higher/lower then your supplier will move your direct debit amount up or down accordingly.
Get grants to insulate your loft or cavity walls
There are hundreds of energy saving measures you can install in your home but the majority of them do require some investment (although obviously they should pay back over time as your energy bills fall). There are two though that the Government are very keen for everyone to install – cavity wall insulation and loft insulation.
If you live in a property built between 1940 – 1990 there is a high chance you will have uninsulated cavity walls. If this is the case speak to your energy supplier and they should be able to provide this to you for free. The energy savings from doing so will be pretty substantial so worth doing! The same goes for loft insulation – many companies like British Gas will install this in your home for free. Believe me, if you can get someone to do this for free it is a great idea – handling the wool insulation is horrible!
There are lots of other smaller ways that you can save energy in the home and you can see our most comprehensive list below, but hopefully these 5 methods here should be enough to get you started.
If you would like to have your say and offer other ways to help save money on your energy bills in rented accommodation please feel free to comment below.
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