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Not all energy efficiency work saves money even after five years

With energy efficiency making headlines in the private rental sector, Norton Finance has calculated the cost of an average mid-terrace household reducing carbon emissions by 12.5 tonnes per year.

The research also quantifies estimated cost savings - for tenants - after five years. Most improvements do not recover their capital cost after five years.

- Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy and money.  DIY draught-proofing starts at under £3 for a roll of self-adhesive draught-excluding tape. Block up unwanted gaps around windows, doors and chimneys that let cold air in and warm air out. Doing this could save around £215 on fuel after 5 years. 

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What you’ll spend: £3

Saving after five years: £215

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- Roof insulation: Just like going out in cold weather without a hat, as much as a quarter of heat can be lost if your roof isn’t insulated. The loft of a mid-terrace house costs around £285 to insulate with 270mm insulation, saving you as much as £500 on bills after 5 years. You’ll also reduce your carbon footprint by about 530kg every year.

What you’ll spend: £285

Saving after five years: £500

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- Wall insulation: About a third of heat is lost from walls of uninsulated houses. The age of your home will usually determine the type of walls you have, and this in turn affects the cost of insulation. Solid walls let twice as much heat escape as cavity walls. While insulating solid walls can be more expensive, the savings on your heating bills will also be bigger. Insulating the walls of an average mid-terrace house costs under £400, with savings of just under £500 after 5 years, saving 415kg of carbon each year.

What you’ll spend: £400

Saving after five years: £500

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- Upgrade your boiler: Boilers are improving in energy efficiency all the time. If you haven’t had a new boiler in the last 10 years, replacing it with a newer model could cost around £2500, but you could save more than £850 on bills within 5 years if you’re in a mid-terrace house. Not only that, a new boiler will reduce your household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 1.92 tonnes of CO2 every year. 

What you’ll spend: £2500

Saving after five years: £850

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- 20% of heat can be lost through standard windows. Invest in energy-efficient double-glazed windows to make savings of up to £850 in heating bills over 5 years, and 80kg of carbon per year. Plus, you’ll be sure to enjoy the peace and quiet that goes along with double glazing. Installation costs average out at around £4,250 for A-rated PVC windows in the average semi, compared to around £15,000 for A-rated hardwood windows. Double glazed windows can reduce the CO2 emissions of a typical household by three quarters of a tonne every year.

What you’ll spend: £4250

Saving after five years:  £850

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- Install solar panels: These days, an average solar set-up will cost £4,800 all-in. But if you’re a householder who’s home all day, it’s estimated that a 3.5kW panel will save you £330 a year -that’s a staggering £1650 in 5 years. Not only that, but a typical solar panel also saves over 10.8 tonnes of CO2 per year. Most homes have upwards of 12 panels; that’s 10.8 tonnes of carbon saved every year, not to mention money paid back to you thanks to the smart export guarantee.

What you’ll spend: £4800

Saving after five years:  £1650

Not all energy efficiency work saves money even after five yearsNot all energy efficiency work saves money even after five yearsNot all energy efficiency work saves money even after five years

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  • George Dawes

    Wall insulation , particularly in older terraced properties is not only prohibitively expensive in many cases it's nigh on impossible , it also gives very little real world return according to the epc calculator for my properties ;

    Internal or external wall insulation cost £4-14k - saving of £759 after 3 years !!

    UTTERLY RIDICULOUS

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    This article is really misleading - shame on you Graham! The cost of insulating walls varies hugely between cavity and external insulation. I was quoted around £10k for external insulation of a victorian terrace under the Green Homes Grant. The £400 quoted above can only be for cavity wall insulation of a flat-backed 1970s style terrace and the article does not make this clear. The section on insulation is completely misleading and is presumably the type of 'facts' that policy makers are relying on whilst making policy!

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    I think the government is quoting figures from insulation materials stolen from back of a lorry and insulated by cash in hand criminal.

     
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    Live Horse and you’ll get grass.
    I think we could spend the money on Insulating the Properties if Council Policy’s were removed from private sector Housing which were only introduced in recent years. Councils never had much to do with us until 2004 Prescott Act starting in 2006. They tell us its non profit making for them and only supposed to cover the costs of the schemes. They are taking £20m off private LL’s in many London Boroughs, just imagine the injection of cash that would be to the Insulation program to save our Planet.
    I am sure the Councils won’t mind loosing a not profit schemes taking up their valuable time.

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    All this analysis by back room academics is all very well, however, in the real world the differences are not so impressive. I replaced 2 boilers in HMO's I owned. Obviously I paid all bills. I never noticed a change in my bills. I have also changed a boiler in my own property, the one previous to the one I currently live. The difference in bills over the following winter was tiny.
    I will be putting external insulation on 2 of my properties, I will be doing this myself. As well as putting in cavity wall insulation, apparently it only works effectively if you do both! I will be doing this to my own house, once I have upgraded these 2 older properties. I hope this massive effort and expense that I will be going to returns good results, time will tell.

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    watch out for severe damp

     
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    The only thing true about conservation is the first three letters it is all a CON! Like Andy Marshall instead of fitting two boilers I fitted 10 new energy-efficient boilers to my HMOs and it saved me nothing but cause me grief as all the boilers broke down very quickly . I wish I kept the old boilers which lasted decades . Same goes with insulation it has not saved me anything. Yes in theory it should save you money but in practice it does not .

    Please do not think I am against saving money or the planet . I am just one of those sad people who reads the meters in their HMOs every week and they show no saving after doing all this insulation . I have called in energy efficiency consultants and all they can say is 'the book says !' What I find amazing is most landlords apart from Andy live in a pipe dream world where they think because someone says insulation works blindly believe it does and disbelieve what I say. I predict in n years time energy efficiency will be exposed as the biggest missselling scandal ever.

    One of the thing that works brilliantly is prepay metres. These almost halve the electric used in an HMO and you get most of the rest back by selling electricity to your tenants. You're welcome to come up and have a look at how I fit prepaid meters.

    Jim Haliburton
    The HMO Daddy

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    Hi Jim, interesting comments with regard insulation. I will focus on one property and see what the results are. Did you ever have external insulation fitted? With regard boilers the only one that I will ever have fitted now are Vaillant boilers. I have had 7 fitted, first in 2013. None have caused me any issues. Prior to that I had Chaffateaux, Ideal and Potterton boilers. They all kept British Gas very busy! I no longer have any HMO's but fully understand your move into pre-paid meters. I was looking at doing the same but due to Councils imposing ridiculous rules I withdrew from this type of letting.

     
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    Boilers LL’s biggest nightmare by a mile as regards maintaining the Property. Old boilers were reliable, simply and easily fixed before Technology. A bit like private lettings before Technology it was far easier because we didn’t have Digital Academics making a monkey out of us. They couldn’t dream & impose up all the nonsense without a computer because they would have to actually do something.
    I had a new Boiler Potterton Main after a couple of years it gave endless problems, go fed up with call out and it went in the bin hardy 5 years. Another one Baxi Titanium less that 2 years in the bin. That said I have 2 Vaillant Combi Boilers (before condenser started) 18 years trouble free, which were replacement 2 Ariston Combi all trouble Boilers. I was often minded to change the Vaillants but too scared, Any other Appliance not an issue Fridge, Freezes, Cookers, Washing, Micro waves etc , in the back of the vehicle and replaced immediately.

  • Trevor Cooper

    All this with a lack of ventilation creates condensation which invariably leads to mould (which tenants insist is damp) and inhalation or exposure to black mould can cause allergic reactions, in extreme cases hypersensitivity pneumonitis and aspergillus fumigatus.

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    Hi Terry Sullivan, you state watch out for severe damp, grateful if you could expand on this. Thanks

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    Hi Andy I I have got round the problem of the boilers failing after a year by only buying boilers with 7 or 10-year warranties and so far they have not let me down. I think the make my plumbers fit is called ideal

    I jokingly say when you buy a boiler you get two warranties the 1-year warranty that comes with the boiler and and the Secret one which is it will not last more than 2 years!

    I have had two HMOs properties fitted with external cladding only because it was free re and it's made no difference to the energy used.

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    Thanks for your reply, the longer warranties make sense. A plumber I used was singing the virtues of Potterton with their 10 year warranty. I guess things improve, e.g. Fiat only use galvanised panels on weak spots in their cars after the disaster years of having rot boxes in this country.
    Yes I had a property cladded for free, cladding was only 20mm thick but looked much better when all finished. Tenants felt it did make a small difference, but who knows. I'm looking at 100mm. And again the property will benefit from looking better for curb appeal. As I am selling almost half my portfolio this is also important to me. Aim to be mortgage free in 4-6 years.
    Appreciate your input.

     
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    I suspect that unless the HMO is sealed like a tupperware box insulating it makes no difference as all the tenants do is open a door and window and heat runs out

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    HMO's require constant management, hence I left this sector. Completely agree that tenants can undermine any improvements. Even had one tenant re-set the thermostat so it looked on 20 degrees but actually on 30 degrees. Constant wet washing in rooms causing high levels of moisture which then gives mould, despite me supplying a large tumble drier. Money was good but I gave up and returned them to family lets, though I still have issues with mould in one property as they insist on having there wet washing drying in the house all the time and never open windows in the colder months. Previously never had issues in that house. Other than that they were lovely tenants.

     
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    Very true some will throw the windows open rather than turn down the thermostat if they are not paying for heating.
    Others a small minority will seal the room tight never open a window or draw the curtain. I have a modern house it was let for 30 years, cavity walls, double glazed never a question of mould until a particular type of Tenant came and totally blacked his room in months, thankfully he didn’t stay long, he is gone 10 years and it never again happened either, can someone convey this statement of fact to Shelter who are in the news again today making false allegations about mould & damp. I think its very sad that they are continuously prepared to tell lies about us. Some of my friends ran half Marathon last week to support Shelter to help people in need not to damage private LL who houses millions including many vulnerable people.

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    I think the biggest 'con' of this article is the amount you'll save. After all, as LL you'll pay for the work to be done, but it's the tenants who save the money on their energy bills not you!

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