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5 tips to save energy when renting

Posted by Anna Carlini on 5 July 2016 at 10:40 am

The UK is currently going through a boom in renting. Many families, couples and young people may never own their own home, but privately rent from landlords. Young people are so unlikely to have their own property that they are now being called "Generation Rent". Whilst renting it is very common for tenants to pay the heat and electricity bills themselves, so what can you do to keep those bills under control?

1. Check which kind of meter the property has

There are two types of meter usually found in a rented property, regular credit meters and prepayment meters. Regular credit meters calculate the amount of energy you have used and then send you a bill at the end of the month. With a prepayment meter you pay for your energy in advance, as with a pay and go mobile. Landlords often prefer prepayment meters so that tenants cannot incur large debts by not paying their bills, then move out, leaving the landlord to deal with it. Prepayment is often more expensive than regular credit, so isn’t as good an option for the tenant.

Regardless of which meter you have, you should definitely shop around for the cheapest energy tariff.

2. Check your contract

Most tenancy agreements state that you are required to leave the property in the condition you found it. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes while you are living there. There are a variety of easily reversible changes which can make a house more energy efficient. If the curtains the landlord provided are too thin and let too much heat escape, then take them down, put them somewhere safe and out of sight and put up your own, thicker and more draught-proof ones. Just remember to swap them back before you leave!

As a tenant you can sometimes feel like the house you live in is never really your home and the only way to save money on your bills is to never turn the heating on! However, improvements like basic insulation could make a real difference to your energy bills. 

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for reasonable improvements

Keeping good relations with a landlord can be a struggle, especially when there are changes you want to make to the property. But as of 1 April 2016, new regulations mean that tenants can request the consent of their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements.

The recommended 270mm level of loft insulation would certainly be a reasonable expectation. Landlords should be more willing to contribute to changes if it is something which could become a selling point of the property or help tenants keep up with the monthly rent payments.

4. Keep an open dialogue with your landlord

It is always worth having an open dialogue with your landlord about what you are both willing to improve. You may find that you have much more of a say in saving energy and money in your home than you thought.

5. Look at your own behaviour

Make sure you are doing everything you can to minimise how much energy you use. Be careful when you heat your water, keep the temperature low on your washing machine and keep an eye on your thermostat. Turning the thermostat down by just 1oC can result in a substantial saving. YouGen have a variety of tips for being more energy efficient check them out here on the blog.

Of course there might be some advantages to renting. If you live in a rented flat with other flats above, below and to your sides, then you may be getting some extra warmth and insulation for free!

Image: AisforAmy91

Related blogs:

TBC: How landlords will upgrade homes to EPC band E without upfront costs, now Green Deal finance is off the table...

Sources: Uk Power

More information about Energy Saving and Renewable Energy on YouGen.

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3 comments - read them below or add one


karengouldComment left on: 26 April 2017 at 1:33 pm

Nice points. Have a look on some other useful points -

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Linn Rafferty

Linn Rafferty from JTec Energy PerformanceComment left on: 21 July 2016 at 12:26 pm

Agree with Olivia, this is a very helpful article, and making small changes to the way you live in the home can be very important. 

There is one thing that I don't agree with though; 'Landlords often prefer prepayment meters'. No they don't, but sometimes the landlord ends up with a prepayment meter in their property through the actions of the previous tenant.

This can happen when the energy supplier replaces the credit meter in a rented property with a prepayment to recover a debt owed by the tenant. Energy suppliers are entitled to do this, without asking for permission, if the tenant owes them sufficient money. It doesn't help the landlord to keep the prepayment meter, as it can put off tenants - and rightly so, because the cost of fuel provided via a prepayment meter is higher than via a credit meter.

In fact, it is the energy supplier that prefers the prepayment meter in rental properties. It protects them from the task of chasing their debtor (the tenant) when they move out owing the supplier money. It means they get payment in advance, and at a higher rate. For the energy supplier it's a no brainer.

For these reasons, it can be a slow process to get the prepayment meter changed back to a credit meter, but if you move into a home that has one, don't be worried about asking for it to be replaced. It may require some persistence, but it will be worth it.



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Olivia88Comment left on: 8 July 2016 at 9:54 am

Great article and great tips for everyone. However, the last tip is probably where everyone should start, because we often do some things unintentionally and we are not even aware of it.  The thermostat example gives me smile because I recently discovered that even 1°C can make a huge difference!


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