Standards for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

12. Energy efficiency

12.1 What energy efficiency is

Energy efficiency is about getting the most out of each unit of energy and measures to make a dwelling energy efficient include:

  • insulation of loft and walls
  • draught-proofing of doors and windows
  • decent, controllable heating system
  • low energy lighting
  • energy efficient appliances

12.2 Benefits of energy efficiency

A warm, energy efficient home can help to ensure that your property structure is protected. For example, tank and pipe insulation will help to give protection against burst pipes, decent heating systems help to avoid tenants using unsuitable supplementary heating such as bottled gas heaters. More significantly, energy efficiency measures help to reduce or eliminate condensation dampness.

Furthermore, energy efficient homes are better for the environment. Domestic properties account for 25% of carbon dioxide emissions, a major greenhouse gas and key contributor to climate change. Improving energy efficiency of our homes will help to reduce energy use and the associated carbon dioxide emissions, and help to combat climate change. Very often, the HMO landlord is responsible for paying fuel bills, which gives little incentive for tenants to reduce their energy use.

In these circumstances, an energy efficient home is all the more important. Low energy lighting, A-rated appliances, a heating system comprising a modern efficient boiler, thermostatic controls and a programmer (timer) and good insulation, will help to reduce the amount of energy used in the property.

12.3 Energy saving tips

Landlords may also want to consider providing tenants with guidance on using energy wisely.

The National Energy Foundation has produced a booklet (Easy Save) which is full of useful advice and information about reducing energy use in the home. The booklet is particularly useful for tenants as it focuses on behavioural changes, such as use of heating systems and appliances. Copies can be obtained from the council for you to pass on to your tenants or for your own use.

12.4 Energy performance certificates

Legislation introduced by the European parliament requires all homes to have an Energy Performance Certificate when they are sold or rented. The certificate gives each building an energy rating from A to G, similar to those seen on white goods. The rating will be determined by an independent, qualified assessor.

Each certificate will last for ten years unless major renovation work is carried out on the property. Property owners can voluntarily get a new certificate after installation of energy efficiency measures - particularly if these improve the energy rating.

The requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate does not currently apply to homes where rooms are rented individually, but would apply to shared house HMOs.

12.5 Minimum energy efficiency standards in rented dwellings

Where the property is legally required to have an Energy Performance Certificate, landlords must ensure that their properties reach at least a rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants.

12.6 Grants for energy efficiency measures

Private tenants in receipt certain income or disability benefits may be eligible for free or discounted insulation and heating measures under the Energy Company Obligation.

For more information, contact the Energy Saving Advice Line on 0300 123 1234

Residents of Buckinghamshire can also receive free, impartial advice on energy saving and grants from the Better Housing Better Health telephone helpline on 0800 107 0044.