Turning green: Why environmental efficiencies are key

With everything going on in the world at the moment, it is easy to forget the other things that are important to us.

Today is Earth Day, and across the world we are (remotely!) celebrating the largest environmental movement designed to drive transformative change for people and the planet.

Since 1970, the Earth Day Network’s mission has been to drive positive action for the planet, but is there anything that landlords can be doing to play their part in this major step towards a greener future? Boosting your bottom line.

As well as a positive boost for the environment, making green tweaks to your lettings portfolio can also have a really great impact on your pocket too. More and more tenants are looking at the green credentials of a property as a very real concern, and they play a big part in choosing their perfect home. Failing to take this seriously could end up having a major impact on the scroll appeal of your online marketing.

Simple changes

Most modern properties are built with energy efficiency in mind. This is great news for landlords and tenants, more energy efficiency benefits often mean far lower bills! However, if you have a property that was built before the mid-1980s, it is likely that energy efficiency wasn’t at the top of the agenda… Either way, there are plenty of things owners of properties both new and older can consider to boost their home’s output:

  • Insulation: Most new properties will be well insulated, but older properties may be lacking a little, and this can make a real difference. Effectively insulating a property, in areas such as the loft and cavity walls, is like wrapping the entire building in a cosy coat, and traps heat in the home – saving your tenant a fortune on heating bills and really helping cut down on the overall energy usage.
  • Double glazing: Windows with wind whistling through aren’t going to win any awards for efficiency, nor are they going to be popular with chilly tenants on a winters evening. If your property is in a conservation area, and covered by an Article 4 directive, you may be unable to upgrade to double glazing, your local council will be able to advise.
  • Eco-lightbulbs: Sometimes the smallest things can be the brightest ideas! Making the change to LED lightbulbs throughout your rental properties can make a real difference to the energy output. Admittedly, they’re fairly pricy to buy compared to a standard bulb, but they last around 21 times longer (no more call outs for blown bulbs in hard-to-reach places!) and are brighter, and more efficient.
  • Top rated appliances: As well as considering light, it’s worth considering the appliances you supply. Appliances are graded A to G on the efficiency scale, with A being the best and G the worst. Fridges and freezers have three extra ratings, A+, A++ and A+++, and washing machines have three efficiency ratings for energy consumption, washing and spinning (you’d be looking for an AAA).
  • Repair, don’t replace: Even the most efficient white goods can have a wobble, and if you find yourself on the receiving end of a breakdown call, before rushing to the shops to replace the appliance, consider if it can be repaired first. Not only will it save your wallet, it’ll help do wonders for the environment too. Our sister company Howsy’s Appliance cover can help keep costs in check, and have you back up and running in no time.
  • Low-flush toilets: With every visit to the loo using up to 12 litres of water, the average fixture is literally flushing good environmental sense away! Fitting low-flush toilets could save up to 60% of the water per use. An upgrade to the old-fashioned hack of a brick in the cistern, modern low-flush systems are a savvy way of saving water and reducing energy usage.
  • Water-saving shower heads: Everyone loves a long hot shower after a hard day, but with a power shower using up to 22 litres of water every minute, this isn’t the most economical form of relaxation! Water-saving shower heads can protect the power, but stop water wastage running down the drain.
  • Thermostatic radiator valves: Not only a great option for environmental efficiency but also one for household harmony, thermostatic radiator valves help moderate the temperature of each radiator when the individual room temperature is reached. Perfect for when you don’t want to spend money heating an unused room, or if you have a heat lover in one bedroom, and a chilly sleeper in another. At £10 to £20 per valve, it’s a small cost for a big difference.
  • Bleed your radiators: Perfectly balanced radiators are no use if the system isn’t working efficiently. Regular maintenance to ensure that there are no airlocks in the system causing blockages is vital. Make sure to schedule maintenance in the summer months, so as not to receive a cool reception from your tenants!
  • Block up chimneys: Original fireplaces can look great, and be a real selling point. However, leaving your chimney unchecked can leave your property opens to more than just Santa! If the fireplace is unused, a simple method is to fit a chimney balloon, inserted up the chimney and inflated, blocking cold draughts, rain and debris.

Don’t forget to document changes!

If you are planning to make changes to your property to improve your energy efficiency, it is important that people know about it! The key document that highlights your property’s green credentials is your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This is a mandatory document that must be in place in order to start marketing your property. You can read more about recent changes to EPC legislation here.

An EPC lasts ten years, so it is likely that you already have one in place, however, as you improve and adapt your property, the score you have may change. It is important to ensure that your EPC always reflects the most accurate results – after all, you want to show off all your hard work!

Our sister company Howsy can help arrange a new EPC, to make sure you have everything in place to get the very best rating. More details are available here.

Cut down your carbon footprint with technology

As we stand today, face-to-face contact is an obvious no-no. With strict social distancing requirements in place, it is clear that the market as we know it may take some time to return to normal. Many landlords are reporting that their traditional high street agents are understandably finding the transition tricky to manage.

Here at Urban.co.uk, we work with strictly digital platforms – a great asset in the current situation. However, even when guidelines are relaxed and we can get back to relative normality, technologies like ours are still great from an environmental point of view!Cutting down on your carbon footprint is one of the biggest ways an individual can help do their bit. To let a property the traditional way, there’s plenty of to-ing and fro-ing, meaning that footprint soon ramps up! Journeys to and from your agency to sign contracts, process paperwork, oversee deposits, and that’s before you consider numerous viewings. Here, everything is carried out digitally, with very few journeys necessary. Even initial viewings can be hosted remotely via a video (although we do definitely recommend an in-person appointment before proceeding with a tenant). Clever bespoke technology can be used at every stage to simplify and cut down on unnecessary people movement.

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