Over recent years many of us have made changes to be more eco-friendly and decrease our carbon footprints. What’s more, with the recent energy price hikes, it’s more important than ever that homeowners and landlords alike place energy efficiency in homes at the top of their agenda.
The property industry has a key role to play in how we tackle climate change and are more energy-efficient as a whole. The UK Green Building Council notes that the built environment still accounts for 40% of the UK’s total carbon footprint and almost half of this is from energy used in buildings. The government is also imposing new legislation on rental properties; beginning in 2025 all newly rented properties will be required to have an EPC rating of C or above.
As a sector, we need to both support and empower homeowners and landlords to make their properties as eco-friendly and energy-efficient as possible. Encouragingly for the industry, the need is matched by demand. Research commissioned by LRG found that 70% of people would like their property to be more eco-friendly and 56% of people would specifically seek out a property to rent or buy that has eco-friendly features such as wall insulation, triple glazing, or renewable energy sources.
With new innovations hitting the market all the time, where should we start in improving the eco-credentials of our properties?
The first point of call for any property is to conduct an audit of what you need to do to your property based on when it was built if it is listed, what eco-features an EPC rating it currently has. There are key differentiators within the EPC rating system that can help you start the improvement process.
Carrying out a professional energy assessment is the best place to start if you are retrofitting your home. The layout and construction of period properties in particular can be complex so it’s essential to have all the information at your disposal before you begin work.
As a landlord or homeowner the last thing you want to do is invest in upgrades that will not enhance both the financial yield (on resale or rent) and energy efficiency of your property, so be sure to do the required checks before you start spending!
2. Smart meter
Easy to install and easy to use, smart meters are game-changers when it comes to energy use in homes. Having the information to hand on exactly what is being spent, and where, allows the user to keep track of spending, but also to experience first-hand if the spend matches up with how warm their home feels. This information can be used to inform home improvements such as insulation, light bulb changes and more.
3. Light bulbs
It may sound too simple to be true but changing the lightbulbs in your property to energy-efficient LEDs can dramatically reduce emissions. While LED light bulbs may have a bigger upfront cost than traditional halogen bulbs, they will recoup the cost with energy savings. In fact, LED lighting saves up to 90% of energy compared to older halogen bulbs and, as they last up to 10 years each, they will need swapping out far less often which is great news for landlords and property managers.
According to Which?, in the UK, around a third of all heat lost is from poorly insulated walls. Investing in wall insulation can save money on heating bills and reduce individual carbon footprints. There are different types of insulation, but generally, it acts as a blanket that prevents heat from escaping through the walls and spreads heat evenly around the home. It can also help to stop homes from overheating in warmer months.
Different properties require different types of insulation so make sure this is factored into your audit and look at the different grants that are available to minimise financial cost.
5. Potential investments
Once you have the foundation of an eco-property you can look at possible larger investments such as ground heat pumps and electric vehicle charging points. Naturally, these newer innovations require a substantial upfront investment but, as demand for these types of features increases, there is scope for them to bring additional value and lucrative returns to properties sold and let. In the Spring Budget the Chancellor also announced that VAT would be scrapped on eco-home improvements such as heat pumps and solar panels so be sure to check what impact this would have on an investment of this kind.