My final post in #thegreatbiggreenweek is to make some suggestions and a provisional plan for landlords to follow to improve your property carbon footprint.
Note that I am not an expert here, these are mainly common sense type suggestions (although I have been doing a lot of reading on the subject so hopefully they are sensible suggestions).
1 Check your property’s susceptibility to flooding
As I said in my last post, we are almost certainly going to have a lot more flooding events and it’s best to be prepared. So go to this page and pop in your property postcode.
If your property is at risk of flooding there are a few things you can do (short of selling up and moving elsewhere – although for some properties this may be the best option):
- Bear in mind that paving increases flood risk, so
- Ensure (if you can) that at least some of the surrounding ground has plants, shrubbery or grass so rainfall can drain away
- Try not to pave over existing gardens, or if you do, use permeable or porous materials. Or make sure that surface runoff can be directed somewhere it can drain away
- Be aware that you may need planning permission for paving over gardens in some areas
Having gardens planted up with trees shrubs and gardens will help to soak up rainwater, support wildlife and will also help capture carbon – a triple benefit to the environment. If your tenants hate gardening, low maintenance plants are available!
You should also check your insurance policy just to make sure that you are covered if the worst happens. We have an insurance mini-course here which may help. If it looks as if your properties are in high-risk areas, you may also want to consider stocking up on a few sandbags.
2. Assess your properties current carbon footprint
Your EPC may be able to help here but unfortunately, EPCs tend to recommend gas boilers which are due to be phased out over the next 10 years. But consider things like:
- Insulation – walls, floors, windows and doors
- Heating and energy use
Draw up a list of things you need to do and how much they are likely to cost you. Try getting some advice if you can find anyone who can advise in this area.
3. Consider changing the energy supplier
If you pay the bills, this won’t be difficult, but if your tenants pay the bills they may not be willing to do this unless the new supplier is cheaper. According to Ethical Consumer, the best Green energy companies (those which at the time of writing seem to be still trading) include:
Mind you it may be best to wait until the current crisis is over before switching!
4. Consider getting works done
If you know exactly what you want doing and have workmen available to do it, now would be good. As things are probably going to get more difficult as time goes by and more and more landlords wake up to the fact that they need to get improvement works done urgently or risk fines.
There are after all limited tradespersons able and available to do these works.
However, otherwise, it might be best to wait until after November 2021 before making arrangements as hopefully by then (spurred on by COP26 and not wanting to be a laughing stock) the Treasury will have reformed our lunatic tax and VAT regime as regards green improvements. There may even be a proper grants system in place.
So work out what you need now, and consider booking companies to do it next year. There may be a bit of a queue so the earlier you get on it the better.
5. Some quick wins
- Provide your properties with thick thermal curtains
- Provide draught excluders
- Consider installing a smart meter (but make sure its a recent model)
- Ensure that all electric appliances you buy are energy-efficient models – this can make a big difference for example with fridges and washing machines
- Ensure that all lighting has long-lasting energy-efficient light bulbs (although most landlords I speak to have already done this)
However, if you are thinking about replacing your boiler, or installing a new heating system, it may be best to wait until next year.
Talk to your tenants about this and get their views. They may have some good suggestions.
Most tenants will be anxious to do the right thing and work with you to reduce the property carbon footprint and (of course) their own bills.
Here are a few websites you may find helpful:
If you are interested in electric cars,
Kryton Robert Llewellyn’s fully charged show is worth a look.
Don’t forget to let us have your thoughts in the comments below.