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Almost 2/3 of Renters Worried about Energy Bills

With the current fuel crisis seeing an increase in energy prices, ongoing hikes in household bills are proving to be a major concern for millions of households across the country, including the UK’s renters.

Almost half of renters surveyed (49%) are worried about how they will pay their bills, with 57% saying these concerns are having a negative impact on their mental health.  Nearly two-thirds (65%) say rising fuel costs will make it difficult for them to pay their energy bills, with 62% indicating they may struggle to pay their rent this winter.

The research, commissioned by Smart Energy GB, has revealed that renters think landlords could be doing more to help, with 46% saying their energy bills could be better managed if their landlord made their home more energy efficient.  28% of renters don’t feel their landlord supports them enough when it comes to managing their energy use, with 85% of renters who do not feel that their property is as energy efficient as it can be concerned that a current lack of energy efficient measures will make their energy costs even higher.  In terms of things that renters feel their landlords could do to make their homes more energy efficient, they would like their homes to be better insulated (73), with other popular initiatives including having drafts filled in (54%), boilers upgraded (45%) and double glazing installed (44%).

Although three fifths (60%) of tenants say being in a rented property restricts their ability to manage their energy use and costs, they are making their own environmentally friendly changes and adapting their behaviours around the home.  Turning off lights topped the list (59%), with 56% turning off appliances when they were not using them.  They are also less likely to turn the heating on, with 44% renters saying their heating remains switched off, even when it’s cold.

Additionally, 67% of tenants say having a smart meter would help them manage their energy costs, with 55% secure in the knowledge that, if they are the one paying the bills, they can have one installed by their energy supplier without the permission of their landlord.  Alarmingly, some renters have been put off doing this as, not only did they think their landlord would not like it (16%), they were also concerned they may lose their deposit (14%).

Smart Energy GB and have developed five tips on how landlords can support their tenants to be more energy efficient:

Job #1: Get a smart meterA smart meter is the new generation of energy meter. Just like cars have more electronic kit, such as sat navs, keyless entry and diagnostics to understand what’s wrong, a smart meter provides near-real time information via the in-home display on the user’s gas and electricity use, in both Kwh and in pounds and pence, so tenants and landlords better understand what drives their bills up. This helps households understand how they can make changes to their energy use – and save money.

Even better, just like technology has made it easier to diagnose what’s wrong with a car, smart meters will save everyone time and money by sending the readings to the energy supplier automatically.

Job #2: Check what eco features the property has already

Depending on the age of the boiler, newer ones will have an ‘eco mode’ which you can turn on that can save money as it stops water being preheated. The downside is it takes a little longer for hot water to come out of the tap, the upside is, it can save money

Job #3: Use LED lighting

Whether you pay the utility bill or not, either fit LED lights yourself, for example, before you re-let the property or, if you have a tenant already in the property, advise them they could save around £40 a year by fitting LEDs. You could even consider gifting the tenant some bulbs to support them following the utility cost rises.

Job #4: Fit thermostats on radiators

If you haven’t already fitted them, thermostats on radiators can really help tenants only heat the areas required, or boost the areas they are living in most, keeping some heat on in rooms used a lot less. I have these and they are my main way to keep the different rooms I use at different times nice and warm, as well as save money on my bills.

Job #5:  If renovating or upgrading a property, fit insulation A great way to keep costs down for tenants is making sure roof spaces, walls and floors are insulated, basically ensuring less heating is required to keep a home warm. This is a pretty cost-effective way to help tenants (or yourself if you are the bill payer) as something like 25% of heat loss is via the roof, and if installed by a professional, it should deliver savings for around 40 years.

Peter Smith, director of policy and advocacy National Energy Action said: “Tenants in the private rented sector often face higher energy costs as they tend to live in the least efficient homes. It’s therefore no wonder that 65% say they worry they may struggle to pay their energy bills. Landlords have a big role to play in helping to make the impact of higher prices more affordable and therefore increasing the chances their tenants can make the rent. Energy efficiency interventions can help make significant cost savings but even a smaller step like having a smart meter would help tenants manage their energy costs.

He added: “Smart meters can also reduce the need for landlords to support tenants through the moving-in process and reduce disputes with things like final meter readings at the end of a lease, leading to lower costs relating to disputes. Additionally, during void periods, landlords would have an increased ability to keep the meter topped up to avoid build-up of damp in the property which could require increased maintenance. Whilst its right to keep your landlord informed of any changes to their properties, It is important tenants know they can access these benefits without having to have the consent of their landlord and landlords know what’s in it for them”.

Smart meters – making life easier

It is a bill payer’s right to instal a smart meter, if they pay for the gas or electricity in the rented property.  If the landlord pays the bills, the decision lies with them.

Smart meters provide automatic billing and greater visibility of energy use through the in-home display.  With a smart meter in prepay mode, it is possible to top up in a variety of ways from your own home and know when you are close to using your emergency credit.

A smart meter installation takes as little as two hours and can be scheduled at a time to suit you. Landlords do not need to be present for the installation, but it’s good to let them know a smart meter is being installed, just in case there is a clause in your tenancy agreement.

If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, Ofgem the Energy Regulator, says that they should not unreasonably prevent it.