With the main six energy suppliers in the UK all raising their charges and the average UK fuel bill standing at over £1300, it’s hard for tenants to escape the fact that heating their home is costly. While turning down the heating is an option to control bills, during the cold winter months this isn’t appealing. Ensuring that their tenants are warm should be high on any buy-to-let landlord’s priority list and in fact is a legal requirement. Fulfilling this duty of care also helps to keep their tenants happy, so they are more likely to remain in the property in the longer term, which secures income for the landlord and keeps their costs down. While a lot of the onus lies with the landlord, there are steps that tenants can take too.
Improved insulation and more effective heating
Older properties tend to be poorly insulated and this can lead to up to a third of the heat generated escaping. Average heat loss through walls is 33% and through roofs is 26%, so it pays to have cavity wall insulation and to insulate the loft, as doing so will substantially reduce heating bills. The efficiency of a heating system is very much dependent on how old a boiler is and its type; with many boilers in buy-to-let properties aged 10 to 15 years, upgrading to a more efficient condensing boiler might be called for. Thanks to larger heat exchangers these reduce the waste heat that escapes, so 90% of fuel is converted to heat compared to 78% with standard boilers. Landlords who take DSS tenants can benefit from the Warm Front government grant, which can help to fund insulation and improvements to central heating systems; this typically covers the cost of up to £3500 for each property.
Tenants helping themselves
Even in an insulated home with an efficient boiler, tenants can take further steps to reduce heating bills without feeling cold. If there is a thermostat this should be set to 21°C, so that all rooms are kept warm, though the priority should be the living room in the day and the bedrooms before going to sleep. Although opening windows helps with ventilation, this lets heat escape; certainly close the bedroom window at night when it is coldest. Using a hot water bottle during the night is a good way to keep warm without overusing the heating. Layering clothing is the most effective way to get warm without turning the heating up, but it is also important that tenants ensure they keep active and eat well during the winter.
By Amy Millband