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Landlords reveal their 'go to' energy efficiency upgrade

With landlords obliged to think increasingly about energy efficiency measures, new data from Legal & General’s surveying team helps identify different payback periods.

Double glazing is the most popular energy saving measure, seen by 86 per cent of the Legal & General Surveying Services. 

While upgrading windows was slightly more popular than installing roof insulation, mentioned by four in five surveyors, both were well ahead of the third most popular energy efficient measure, wall insulation, mentioned by only 31 per cent of surveyors. 

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The research also revealed that there are a number of energy saving measures which are less commonly seen, but may still provide notable savings over the long term. These measures include solar panels (19 per cent), air source heat pumps (17 per cent) and smart energy meters (15 per cent). 

Legal & General cites expert guidance saying it typically takes about 15 years to recoup installation costs for solar panels; similarly, the payback period on an air source heat pump is around 12 years. 

Separate research from Legal & General suggests that there has been a 34 per cent uptick in searches for eco-friendly homes and buyers are now willing to pay a 10.5 per cent price premium for a low carbon property.

Legal & General’s Equity Economy Report also found  increased interest in using equity from the property to improve energy efficiency with 13 per cent of the surveyed homeowners using the money to pay for green measures to improve energy use.

Spiralling gas and electricity bills may well be driving interest in energy efficient home improvements.And of course the government has proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of C or above by 2025 for new tenancies and 2028 for existing tenancies.

Trudy Woolf - sustainability director at Legal & General Surveying Services - says: "Having polled our own team of surveyors, these findings highlight that buyers and owners are becoming increasingly conscious of the energy efficiency of their homes. It’s great to see that many homeowners are already thinking about installing energy efficient measures which are cost effective – this is something we expect will continue to rise in prominence as consumers develop a greater understanding of energy efficiency.”

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    My ‘ Go To’ plan is flawless….. I evict & sell up 💵💵👍🏻👍🏻.

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    🤣- Love ur plan.

     
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    My 'go to' plan is exactly the same as yours Simon. 👍 💷

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    My plan is to remain as a landlord so I have to engage with the whole energy efficiency thing.

    It depends on the property, it's condition at the point of purchase and if I intend to let it as a bills inclusive HMO or standard rental.

    Double glazing is expected. I wouldn't buy a property that couldn't have DG.
    Other than that it depends on what the EPC is and who is paying the bills.
    My bills exclusive properties will be improved as necessary repairs occur or improvement grants are available.
    Several have had loft insulation when grants have been available to partially fund it.
    Flat roofs have been insulated when roof felt has needed to be replaced.
    If any boilers die the replacement one will be an energy efficient one.
    If the EPC is borderline I might take a box of lightbulbs just in case but generally regard lightbulbs as being a consumable that the tenant deals with.

    For bills inclusive HMOs I'm far more inclined to do more.
    Heating programmers are top of my list. It used to be the type with 6 different time and temperature settings, then I dabbled with Hive smart heating controls and have now discovered the Inspire Home Automation ones specifically designed for bills inclusive HMOs.
    Then it would be low energy bulbs and heat pump tumble driers.
    Solar panels on any with vaguely suitable roofs. Solar panels are brilliant but right now the tax treatment is totally wrong. The Feed in Tariff no longer exists, they're regarded as a capital improvement and whereas imported electricity is a fully tax deductable expense in an HMO self generated electricity does nothing for your tax bill. I'm fairly convinced the new solar systems will pay for themselves for domestic homeowners but it's far more questionable for landlords. It may work out because of the new time of use import/export tariffs but there's no readily available published information to support that theory.

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    Bills inclusive,so tenants don't give a toss,no thank you

     
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    Payback on solar now reckoned to be about 15 years. The only reason to install them is to buy EPC points - which shows again how stupid the whole thing is!

     
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    Tricia - solar payback is a really difficult concept to calculate.
    The system I finally had installed yesterday reckons an 11 year payback but those figures were quoted before the Octopus Flux tariff was invented.
    The one I had installed in January reckons a 25+ year payback but didn't take into account the type of electric meter.
    The ones I had installed 12 years ago all paid for themselves within about 6 or 7 years and now generate a nice tax free FIT payment every quarter. But FIT payments are no longer available on new installations.
    It is all totally dependent on so many variables. Size of array, orientation, battery or hot water diverter, users engagement with the system, import/export tariff all have an impact.

    For a landlord needing a quick easy points boost for their EPC a basic system is relatively cheap to install whether it's ever going to pay for itself or not. Let's face it spending £10K on external wall insulation isn't going to pay for itself. Spending £6K on solar panels probably will and they are also going to boost the value of the house more than insulation will.

     
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    Jo, very good you are giving it some welly fair play to you.
    However I would remark you are not allowed to control the heating, that’s the reserve of the Tenants and must have control of his / her heating at all times, see conditions of houses in multiple occupation.

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    Wow didn't know you can't control the heating, so glad I got rid of my HMOs. Tenants were always fiddling with the heating controls and then saying the boiler wasn't working or some nonsense, and it was just that they had messed it up and switched it off.

     
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    Michael - I think you will find tenants must be able to increase or lower the temperature if they want to. These systems allow them to boost or lower the temperature for one or two hours and then it reverts to its program. They can boost it as many times a day as they want. Remember it takes hours for a house to cool down. They have been specifically designed for the HMO bills inclusive market and are fully legally compliant. The really nice thing is that I have an app on my phone that has a very good graph showing exactly what temperature the house is at for a 24 hour period (longer periods are possible but a bit too squished to see on a phone). It also shows when the boiler has been running and if the tenants have boosted the heating. So far mine have boosted it twice since September. Their feedback is very positive. The temperature in the house is always comfortable and I was able to spot a potential problem in the cold weather before the tenants had reported it.

     
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    Surely it makes sense to implement the cheapest options first? Maybe light bulbs and loft insulation. If that doesn't do the trick then look at what else you can do for the least cost (and greatest benefit to the score)?

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    Depends what your objective is.
    If it's just to get EPC C you do the absolute minimum in the cheapest way possible. Normally that would be light bulbs, hot water cylinder jacket and loft insulation. If you need to do more to get to C it starts to get expensive and potentially destructive if floor or internal wall insulation is suggested. A new boiler, roof insulation or solar panels would be the least disruptive to install.

    If it's to lower your bills the most you may prioritise different things. Heating programmers and low energy kitchen appliances make a big difference.

     
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    I think it all depend whether like Jo you are in for the long haul, or like me, you are coming to the end of your time as a LL. This will kick me out maybe 5 years early - but the payback times are too long for me to make it worth while.

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    We all have our own ‘ end date’, and if WE don’t decide then Mother Nature decides for us ☠️

     
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