Recent years have seen successive pieces of legislation obliging private sector landlords to improve the energy efficiency of the homes they let.
The current Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) Regulations, for instance, mean that, since the 1st of April 2020, any property must achieve at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least an E rating before it can be let to tenants.
The penalties for non-compliance can prove costly. A landlord letting a property with an EPC rated less than E for a period of up to 3 months can be fined up to £2,000 and if the letting is longer than 3 months, the penalty rises to a maximum of £4,000.
Although the government has not yet indicated a deadline for the introduction of further legislation, it has announced its intention to bring as many privately rented homes as possible up to a minimum EPC rating of C by the year 2030.
As a story in Landlord Today on the 19th of August 2023 explains, a cornerstone of any initiative looking to improve the energy efficiency of any home is its heating system and the boiler in particular. So, it’s worth looking at the ways of making the most of your hot water and central heating boiler. Your tenants will thank you for it – and it may help you stay on the right side of energy efficiency legislation.
Getting the most from your boiler
You’ll soon know when your boiler is working at anything less than its optimum – the hot water will be only lukewarm, and any radiators will be tepid to the touch. What can you do?
- the first step – and one that you should schedule annually – is to have the boiler serviced by a competent engineer;
- if it’s a gas boiler, of course, that means ensuring that the servicing agent is a registered Gas Safe engineer;
- perhaps more than any other household appliance, the boiler is going to work best if you keep it clean and free of accumulated dust, grease, and other debris;
- though never attempt to clean the inside of the boiler yourself, warns British Gas – that’s a job that you should leave to the experts during the annual servicing;
Radiators need bleeding
- in even the best-maintained central heating systems, a certain amount of air can creep in and find its way into the radiators where it will leave cold spots at the top of them;
- the air trapped at the top of your radiators makes the whole heating system less efficient – and will be costing you extra in fuel bills, too;
- to get rid of any air that has been trapped like this, SSE Energy Services suggests that you bleed the radiators at least once a year – even when they appear to be working efficiently enough;
Check the pressure
- EDF Energy explains why the operating pressure of the central heating system can be an important issue – too low and the heating won’t be working as well as it should but too high and you run the risk of leaks developing in the system;
- the energy supplier makes clear how you can check the pressure of your system and the remedies for correcting a system that might be either too high or too low – aiming for a typical pressure of between 1 and 2 bar;
- insulating the pipework is one of the best ways of ensuring that the heat your tenants have spent their money on generating stays where it can work its best – namely, within their home;
- efficient lagging will keep the warmth in the pipes, reduce heat loss, and save money on keeping the home warm.
As new energy efficiency legislation seems certain to tighten the already quite strict rules, it will repay landlords to pay close attention to keeping hot water and central heating boilers working at their optimum.
Please note this is based on our current understanding of legislation, which is liable to change.