With temperatures dropping and energy prices rising now is the time to make sure your property is heated as energy efficiently as possible. By helping your tenants to reduce the amount of fuel they need to keep warm, you’ll cut their bills and keep them happy. And if you are looking for tenants, improved energy efficiency will set you apart at what is a slow time for new tenancies: tenants are increasingly environmentally conscious and want reassurance that bills are no higher than necessary.
1.) Boiler maintenance: If the boiler breaks, it could be expensive to fix and the tenant may have to move out. Even if electric heaters are used as a short-term solution, these are expensive to run and not energy efficient. Have your boiler serviced annually (now is a good time). There are a couple of simple things you or your tenant can check if the boiler stops working but remember that if you are in any doubt, you should call in a Gas Safe registered engineer:
- Frozen condensate pipe: the pipe leading outside from the back of the boiler so waste condensate can be removed to an external drain. In cold weather, it may freeze and the boiler will stop working (another symptom is a gurgling sound). Pour warm water along the pipe (boiling water may crack it) or apply a heat pack or hot water bottle. Then re-set the boiler.
- Blocked flue: this releases waste gases from the boiler into the outside air. It may get blocked from the outside. If you have easy access and can locate any blockage, do so and try re-setting the boiler.
2.) Heating controls: Timers should be set sensibly (e.g. ‘off’ when people are out). Suggest reducing the room thermostat by 1°C as this could save £55 a year. If you have Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) suggest setting them low and increase them only if necessary. If you don’t have TRVs, you should have them installed as they self-regulate the heat of the radiators, saving energy and money.
3.) Draught-proofing: There are loads of easy and cheap draught-proofing methods. Remember not to block any deliberate ventilation points.
- Keep doors and windows closed and use draught excluders for doors. Close the curtains in the evening.
- Many different, cheap draught-proofing products can be bought for gaps between skirting and the floor, letter-boxes, keyholes, window and door frames, and unused chimneys. A quick internet search will set you straight.
4.) Insulation: Granted, wall and floor insulation can get quite expensive, but these could well save you time and money in the long-term. Loft insulation can often be done cheaply and easily by DIY and could make annual savings of around £180 to the bills.