FAQs: I’m a tenant, how can I reduce my energy bills?
December has arrived, and among the early Christmas cards and party invitations was an alert from the Met Office. Our first Level 3 warning for severe cold weather and icy conditions across the UK reminded us just how bitter winter can be.
Usually, we would reach for the thermostat and turn up the temperature to beat the chill. Amidst an energy crisis, however, we are, instead, wearing extra layers and using the heating more sparingly. It’s not just gas unit prices that are more expensive this winter. Electricity is proving costly too, with many of us finding a new-found level of frugality when it comes to leaving lights on and unplugging appliances.
In terms of rented properties, we are often asked how tenants can keep their fuel bills down. As well as recommending the advice of the Energy Saving Trust, we thought it would be useful to share the answers to our most frequently asked energy questions:-
Can I install a smart energy meter?
A smart energy meter is one of the best ways of managing how much energy you use but tenants are often unsure whether they need the landlord’s permission to install one. If you pay for your own energy, you are free to request a smart energy meter.
It is, however, advisable to let the landlord know your intention as there may be restrictions on the type of meter that can be installed and the energy that is supplied to the property. Contact us if you would like a smart energy meter and we can liaise with the landlord on your behalf.
Can I change my energy supplier?
It’s hoped that 2023 will bring some new, cheaper energy deals worth switching to, so knowing if you can change suppliers is crucial to cost saving. Unless you are on a ‘bills included’ rental package – where your landlord pays the property’s gas and electricity bill – tenants can switch suppliers as they wish.
You’ll know if you pay the bill as it will be your name and address on the account. If you’re still unsure, feel free to ask us and we’ll check your tenancy agreement. We’ll also confirm whether the landlord may have a ‘preferred supplier’.
Can I get paid to use energy at night?
Many tenants are asking us about this initiative, which has been tested but isn’t live yet. The National Grid plan to give people a discount on their bill if they switch to using electricity at off-peak times, taking pressure off the network. Renters wanting to benefit from this scheme, if and when it goes live, should contact their electricity supplier and ask to register for the Demand Flexibility Service.
Can I demand my landlord make energy saving changes?
Although tenants can’t insist their landlord make energy saving changes, minimum EPC standards were introduced in the UK to ensure every private rental sector property meets minimum energy efficiency standards. This makes many tenanted homes cheaper to power and heat than those in the owner-occupier market.
Can I, as a tenant, make my own energy saving changes?
Tenants in England and Wales can request to make their own energy saving changes to a rented property – at their own cost – as detailed in Part Two of the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.<
The document states: ‘The tenants’ energy efficiency improvements provisions mean that, subject to certain requirements and exemptions, from 1st April 2016, where a tenant requests their landlord’s consent to making energy efficiency improvements to the landlord’s property, the landlord may not unreasonably refuse consent.’
In Scotland, the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006 (Part 1, Chapter 7, Section 52) gives every private sector tenant ‘the rights to carry out work, either to make the house suitable for the accommodation, welfare or employment of any disabled person who occupies it as his or her only or main home, or relating to the installation of central heating and other energy efficiency measures under the Executive’s central heating programme or similar schemes promoted under the same powers. The exercise of this right requires the consent of the landlord, which must not be withheld except on reasonable grounds.’
If you’re a tenant with an energy efficiency question that’s not answered above, please contact our lettings team for advice.
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