Author : Anthony Kingdon
Space optimization and energy sharing are legacy options to enhance the energy efficiency of purpose-built student accommodation 'PBSA" and HMO properties. Using prepaid meters is an effective strategy to make residents aware of their energy consumption levels, one hopes that they then take steps to optimize electricity use. All other things being equal and where not price prohibitive environmentally responsible landlords prefer to use electric companies that harness renewable energy, such as solar and wind as this reduces their carbon footprint.
A perceptible change in HMO landlords' approach
There has been a considerable transformation in the private rental sector's approach to climate change. Unfortunately, most people missed the major shift in the wake of the recent COP27 Climate Change Conference. Despite a considerable delay in adopting sustainability, the main stakeholders in the student housing and HMO sectors are finally coming to terms with the green agenda. Many attribute procrastination to the absence of the perks and costs associated with embracing energy efficiency.
Property managers, HMO landlords, and purpose-built student accommodation providers recognize an urgent need to adopt renewables to play their part in the green agenda. A paradigm shift is underway as environmentally conscious landlords and property managers explore investments in renewable energy solutions. Not only will such investment improve the energy efficiency of their properties, particularly in the student HMO sector. It is now expected that Investment in home battery storage and solar panels will multiply rapidly.
Landlords to turn to solar to improve EPC ratings
More landlords are speeding up the adoption of energy-efficient measures. In short, they have no choice. The revision of the minimum EPC rating where it is legal to rent a property is about to change from the present band E to band C for rental homes. Time is running out for landlords to avoid fines of up to 30,000 for failure to make energy efficiency upgrades. The previous minimum investment of 3,500 for an exemption will skyrocket to over 10,000 to make the minimum improvement. A standard solar unit comprising a 5kW home storage battery and 3.12kWp solar system will upgrade a house to band C from band E for immediate compliance.
Solar panels and batteries
Close to a 50 percent reduction in the price of solar panels is improving the feasibility of installing residential solar energy units to drive energy efficiency. It has the potential to become a popular solution for complying with the proposed EPC regulations. The cost of a solar panel and battery installation is approximately 10,000, thanks to the drop in solar panel prices and advances in battery technology.
Environmentally minded renters have a choice
You do not have to be environmentally conscious to prefer a rental property that has solar power. Where solar can sustain the energy needs of properties this provides an opportunity for the landlord to make their property by offering bills inclusive of rent. Spikes in energy costs have scarred renters who more than ever before are prepared to pay a little more for bills-included rent. In addition, where a bills-included rent is also reducing one’s carbon footprint then demand for such homes will rise vis-a-vis homes offered by landlords who do not offer the bills-included feature of residential solar power units.
Efficiency upgrades as profitable investments
The typical setup of solar panels and storage batteries can take care of over 50 percent of the energy needs of a mid-terrace house. Considering the present electricity costs and the likely rise after the existing cap ends in 2023, a standard student home with a solar power unit will help save 794 annually. Landlords may use these savings to make a rental property more attractive by offering lower bills-included rents. Alternatively, they can consider the savings as a return on investment. A solar energy unit can thus become a practical investment to raise the value of rental homes.
EPC changes will force the rental sector to adopt energy efficiency solutions, like solar panels and batteries, to mitigate their carbon footprint. According to a recent survey, over 60 percent of homeowners are seriously considering energy-efficient solutions soon. Beyond student housing and HMOs the private rental sector cannot be far behind in making green home improvements because of legislation. Compliance with green home credentials will be a critical differentiating factor for rental dwellings. Extensive adoption of solar panels and home batteries will help the UK achieve net-zero emissions besides promising a reliable source of savings for landlords.
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