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Posted 20 Jun 2024

Eco Friendly House: How To Make Your Property More Sustainable

landlord / sustainability / tenant

How can you make your property more sustainable for yourself or tenants? Find out in this guide.

For both those who want to live in, or rent out, an eco-friendly house or apartment, in this article I’ll share several tips to help make your property more sustainable.

But first, what do I mean by an eco-friendly property? These properties have several sustainability measures in place to reduce emissions and keep their inhabitants’ carbon footprint as low as possible.

Long-term, we could have a wide range of so-called zero carbon homes in the UK. At the time of writing the current target is to decarbonise UK power by 2035.

Naturally, sustainable properties benefit the environment but there are several advantages for homeowners too.

A recent study by JLL shows that buildings with strong environmental features are selling for more money and attracting higher rents. A one level improvement in energy performance certificate (EPC) results can increase property value by 21% and these properties can earn an extra 4.2% in rent too.

So, how can you make your property more sustainable for yourself or tenants?

Energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs

Several common home appliances have energy labels on their packaging:

  • As of 2020 the new energy label ratings are between A and G
  • Previously it was A+++ to D

Look for this energy label on any new TVs, fridges, ovens, dishwashers and washing machines you buy for the property.

Appliances with ratings closer to A are more energy efficient, so you’ll save more on energy bills long-term too.

Lightbulbs use these energy ratings too. Opt for LED bulbs over inefficient halogen lights.

Smart technology

Unlike old ones that required manual readings, smart meters transmit data wirelessly so you can monitor energy consumption in real-time.

This helps you to make informed decisions about energy usage and potentially lower your bills.

Smart thermostats can learn your heating and cooling preferences and adjust the settings automatically, also saving energy.

Double or triple glazing

Both double and triple glazing have multiple panes of glass separated by gaps, designed to improve energy efficiency.

These gaps are filled with an insulating gas, typically argon, which acts as a barrier to heat transfer.

Double glazing is more affordable. However, in the colder months, triple glazing will provide even better heat retention and could significantly lower your energy bills.

Eco-friendly insulation

Insulation improves your home’s thermal performance, stopping heat from escaping through the walls.

There is a wide range of natural, eco-friendly insulation materials such as sheeps wool, cotton, cork and recycled plastic.

These are not only great insulators but they are renewable, non-toxic and biodegradable as well.

The tips shared so far will help improve your EPC rating in the property overall.

Zero or low VOC paint

Paint fumes come from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Zero VOC paint manufacturers aim to minimise or eliminate them entirely.

Typically, these paints contain less than 5g of VOCs per litre, significantly reducing their impact on indoor air quality.

If redecorating your property, zero VOC paints contribute to a smaller environmental footprint by reducing harmful emissions during manufacturing and use.

Composting systems

Composting systems turn organic waste into compost, reducing landfill waste and methane emissions.

Food waste is a major contributor to landfill waste. Use the green bin and most London councils should collect the food recycling waste for you.

Composting in the garden can also help reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfills.

Water conservation systems

Time to finally see some advantage from all that rain in the UK! Rainwater harvesting systems collect and store rainwater for non-drinking uses.

You can use the stored water in your garden, for washing the car and even for toilets, saving litres of water.

Low-flow taps and shower heads can also help you save water.

Solar panels

If you think the UK doesn’t get enough sun to justify having solar panels, think again. Solar panels work on cloudy days too because they don’t need direct sunlight.

As reported by The Eco Experts, in the UK the average three-bedroom house could save approximately £483 on electricity bills with solar panels. However, bear in mind that solar panels require significant upfront investment with the break even point coming after 14 years on average, according to Money Saving Expert.

Also:

  • Homes equipped with solar panels are often more attractive to potential buyers, potentially increasing your property value.
  • At the time of writing there is 0% VAT on the installation of solar panels in UK residential accommodation, confirmed by Parliament.

Solar panels have become increasingly popular as a way to generate clean, renewable energy for homes.

Other ideas

Those are some of the most popular ways to create eco homes but there are many other initiatives.

For example:

  • Sustainable building materials: If you’re building an extension, consider incorporating blended cement materials and recycled plastic products, requiring less energy to manufacture. Using reclaimed wood helps prevent over-forestation.
  • Sustainable landscaping: If you have a garden, choosing British trees and plants or grasses that are most suited to UK conditions can help reduce water waste, improve soil quality, and reduce the necessity for pesticides and fertilisers. It can also boost biodiversity and support local wildlife.
  • Eco-friendly cleaning products: Many traditional cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can pollute the water and harm wildlife when flushed down drains, but biodegradable and non-toxic ones minimise the environmental impact.

All of the above tips work well when you’re living in an eco-friendly house or flat but what about if you’re letting it out to tenants?

Thinking about tenants

While some of the ideas above are about setting up your property to be greener from the outset, others require ongoing involvement – using the right cleaning products, for example

If tenants will be living in your property, you may need to advise them upfront about what sustainable measures are in place and how to use them, such as:

  • Recycling: Overseas tenants in particular won’t know which days the council collects the different bins. And as council rules vary on what they can and cannot recycle, you may need to let them know about these too. Find out about your local council’s recycling collections.
  • Utility bills: To ensure a green energy supply in your property, set up a contract with one of the sustainable suppliers and include the cost in tenants’ monthly rental payments.

But either way, whether you include the utility bills in their rent or are asking them to set up their own contracts with providers, consider outlining how wasteful energy usage will incur higher costs.

You could share examples of utility bills from previous years – a high one and a low one – so they can see the impact on price.

Final thoughts: How to make your property more sustainable

Remember, it’s well worth promoting your property as an eco-friendly home if it has the credentials to back it up.

It’s unlikely to deter anyone and more probably, it will attract additional interest from tenants who also want to keep their carbon footprint low.

I hope you found this guide informative. For other helpful property articles, the Fine Living blog has you covered.

Recent articles include how to get into London property investment and what to know about being an accidental landlord in the UK.

If you have any queries or would like to ask about a property in the Fine Living portfolio, we are here for you! Please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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02/08/2024

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