Poor insulation means money out of the window for 2.6 million households this winter
The Association for the Conservation of Energy have revealed that UK windows are the leakiest out of 11 northern European nations, with 15.9% suffering from badly insulated windows and walls.
With one in ten families facing the tough decision between ‘Heating or Eating’ this winter, the association’s CEO says the situation has turned the UK into the “cold man of Europe.”
The top 10 areas with excessive fuel poverty are:
- Kensington and Chelsea
As low income renters run out of money to feed their electricity meter, more and more are turning to their local food banks for help.
Claimants can also access a maximum of three fuel vouchers over a 6 month period, which for many means they can turn their heating on for another month. The Trussell Trust is opening so-called “fuel banks” in 30 towns and cities across the UK, handing out around 50,000 vouchers, which is paid for from fines levied on energy firm nPower in December 2015 for poor handling of customer complaints.
Rent arrears are also expected to rise significantly over the next 12 months amid reports that many buy to let landlords are planning to increase their rents next year to offset tax hikes from April 2017.
However, food banks and fuel vouchers are only a temporary fix to poverty. For a longer term solution the way forward is a better insulated home.
So how can landlords improve the situation for their tenants this winter?
- Upgrade energy efficiency rating to Band E
At the moment 5.2 million homes (22%) are rated unsatisfactory for energy efficiency. But from April 2018, landlords will be required by law to get their leakiest properties to an energy efficiency rating of at least Band “E”. Estimates suggest that on average the difference in a heating bill from the least energy efficient properties and those with an energy rating Band “E” is £880.
Fuel poor households living in the least efficient privately-rented homes already need to spend on average around £1,000 more to keep warm compared to the average home.
Improvements can be as simple as installing energy saving light bulbs and draught proofing, to more comprehensive upgrades such as replacing ageing boilers and/or updating single glazed windows to double glazed.
The latest official EPC figures do show some progress though; over the last 10 years the number of homes rated A to C has risen from 4% to 26% (around 6 million flats and houses), where the average property is now D-rated.
2. Regular property inspections
It’s important to carry out regular inspections of a rental property, to keep on top of maintenance and repair issues.
This heartbreaking story is a prime example of the importance of this, especially with regards to elderly/vulnerable tenants: Body of ‘proud’ pensioner found in Weston flat – Could his landlord have done more?…
3. Maintain a good landlord/tenant relationship
Since April 2016 tenants living in F and G rated homes have been able to request that their landlord takes measures to improve the energy efficiency of the property, in preperation for the 2018 EPC legislation.
Which is why The National Landlords Code of Excellence Ltd (NLCE) have launched a free Property Maintenance and Repair Report facility for private renting tenants, to help tackle the age-old problem of maintenance/repair issues. Click here to read all about it.