On Wednesday 13 January, the First Minister announced that the current guidance regarding only carrying out essential works in homes would become law. The Scottish Federation of Housing Association has spoken to Scottish Government officials following this announcement and confirmed that, given this is already the basis, the announcement does not represent any material change, but it does underline the importance of adhering to the guidance as well as the value we are all undertaking.
Energy Efficiency – our landlords in warmer climates may find this interestingly irrelevant
Winter can be an expensive time of year. From trying to keep the house warm with all the radiators on to the darker nights and mornings slowly creeping in. Not to mention the fact that this Winter we’re going to be spending a lot more time at home due to lockdowns. It’s inevitable that we are using more energy and equally more money will be spent.
We would all like to save a penny or two when it comes to energy. Below we are sharing a few energy efficiency tips for your home this winter. These tips can help keep your home warmer and also save you some pennies along the way.
When you are relaxing at home try to keep your internal doors closed. This will help to manage the flow of heat in rooms. Having your heating on low consistently whilst keeping your doors shut you will help to save energy. When the boiler is turned off and on constantly it takes more energy to heat up after being cold.
Turn appliances off
Not watching TV or making a cup of tea? Make sure to turn off your appliances at the wall. Putting appliances on standby can still cause energy consumption. Ensure no energy is being used at all by turning them off at the wall.
Wash clothes at 30-40 degrees
When using your washing machine the ideal heat to wash your clothes is at 30-40 degrees. Any higher and it will use too much energy, increasing your energy bill. Most of the energy is used through a washing machine when it is heating up the water. Washing at 30-40 degrees will wash clothes just as effectively and save you cash whilst helping the environment.
Air dry clothes
Air drying your clothes can be a great energy saver if your radiators are already in use. Have clothes placed close to, not upon, radiators for maximum energy efficiency. This way, the radiators can still work to heat the room whilst also drying clothes – double benefit!
This also applies when placing objects in front of radiators. Large items like sofas and tables can block heat spreading to the rest of the room if placed too closely to the heat source. Give your radiators space so the heat can flow throughout the room!
An obvious one, but the more layers you have on the less likely you will need your heating up high during these cold months. Wrap up comfortably and turn your heating to low-medium as this will gradually heat your home and help to lower your energy bill.
Going solar is another great way to save energy. Solar panels use light particles to generate energy and contrary to popular belief, they do work in Scotland regardless of the amount of sunshine we get! The initial installation can be an expense, however the long-term savings will provide endless benefits and cost savings.
This winter, try to keep an eye on how much energy you are using in your home. You will reap the benefits from saving money to helping save the planet!
Energy Performance Certificates – This will become VERY relevant soon when legislation changes.
To retrieve a copy of the current EPC for your property go to https://www.scottishepcregister.org.uk/.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) provide information on how energy efficient a property is. Properties are rated on a scale from A to G, with A being the most efficient. Information is also provided on measures which could be made to improve the energy efficiency and an indication of the cost for each improvement. The EPC rating is a measure of the cost to heat and power the home based on a set of assumptions about occupant behaviour. The higher the cost the lower the rating. Therefore homes heated by expensive on-peak electricity will in most cases perform worse than homes heated by cheaper gas or renewable resources like biomass. Equally, properties which don’t retain heat will be more expensive to heat and therefore have a lower EPC rating than properties which are well insulated.
When are EPCs needed? Landlords are required to have an EPC which is less than 10 years old at the point they market a property for rental to new tenants.
How is the property assessed? The assessor will visit the property to gather information including the age and construction of the property, the property size, the heating system, type of lighting and windows and the presence of any floor/wall/loft insulation. It is a non-intrusive survey so the assessor will only be able to record features they can see or obtain visual evidence of. Robust documentary evidence of features that aren’t visible e.g. wall insulation can also be used. The data is then entered into a specialist computer system which generates the EPC.
What are landlords required to do with the EPC? The EPC rating must be included in any adverts. The EPC must be made available to prospective tenants, provided to new tenants and displayed in the property. If you don’t comply with these requirements, you could be fined up to £1000
Does my property need to meet a minimum EPC rating? The Scottish Government has committed to introducing regulations requiring private rented sector properties to meet a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating before they can be let to tenants.
The regulations will provide for some exemptions, including where:
- It is not technically feasible to carry out improvements
- Where other owners in a block of flats refuse consent to do work to common parts of the building
- Where tenants refuse consent for work
- Where permission to carry out work to a property which is listed or in a conservation area can’t be obtained
- Where the cost of improvements needed exceeds £10000
Local authorities are expected to be responsible for enforcing the standard and granting exemptions. It is proposed that fines could be levied on those owners who don’t comply with the minimum standard or provide false or misleading information on the exemptions register.
Improving the EPC rating
Below are suggestions of ways to increase the EPC rating of your property. As a very general rule you can expect the following improvements to the EPC rating (there are roughly 10 points in each of the A-G EPC bands):
• More efficient/cheaper to run heating – up to 40 points
• Better heating controls – up to 5 points
• Install wall or loft insulation – up to 11 points
• Higher performance glazing – up to 4 points
• Low energy lighting – around 1 point
Tenement flats and Building Inspection Reports
As you may be aware, Glasgow City Council recently carried out Building Inspection Reports on five hundred Tenement Properties built pre 1919.
Glasgow City Council have confirmed to homeowners that the surveys were carried out using drone and thermal imaging technology and that the reports were produced to inform homeowners and property factors of the condition of the buildings surveyed with a view to assisting with future repairs and maintenance.
On the 4th December The Glasgow Evening Times printed an article in relation to the Building Inspection Reports undertaken. The article focused on a letter that John Mason MSP Glasgow Shettleston had written to the newspaper along with responses from several Homeowners in relation to the Inspection Reports. John Mason`s letter confirmed the following;
“This is good news that Glasgow City Council is highlighting that flat owners need to maintain their properties. I myself live in a tenement flat and would dearly love a survey to be carried out with someone else paying.
For too long many of us flat owners have buried our heads in the sand and have tried to pretend we could live in a tenement without maintaining the building. I find it disappointing if some owners do not want to know the truth about their building’s condition.
I fully support the Council’s analysis of the condition of tenements in the city.” Additionally, Mr Mason identified that multiple owners can make it difficult to organise and pay for works when there is no factor confirming that “We must bring Glasgow’s tenements up to standard and ensure that they are well maintained. This is not going to be easy, cheap, or popular but I do hope the council’s survey can help in moving this forward.”
The recommendations were subsequently passed to Scottish Government for their consideration. The recommendations and background were summarised in Professor Douglas Robertson`s excellent report “Why Flats Fall Down” – a link to which can be found here; https://www.befs.org.uk/resources/publications/why-flats-fall-down/
Professor Robertson identified that“Flats or apartments, and properties defined legally as ‘tenements’ in Scotland account for 895,000 properties (Scottish Government, 2018d). The Scottish House Condition Survey estimates that tenements alone amount to 584,000 properties, equating to almost a quarter of the countries entire housing stock. Almost a third (29%) of these are the traditional tenements, built before 1919, which equates to 7% of the country’s current housing stock.”
The report also set out a clear recommendation that all properties defined as “tenements” ought to be subject to a five yearly property inspection;
“The Parliamentary Working Group also recommended that all elements of ‘scheme property’, that pertain to all properties defined as ‘tenements’, should be subject to a five-yearly property inspection. They go on to recommend that the prepared report would then be made publicly available to both existing and any prospective owners (RICS, 2019). Further, as a public record, this survey would also be readily accessible to tenants, neighbours and policy-makers. This survey would not only detail the actual condition of each ‘tenement’ building, but also provide an estimate of the expenditure required to address any defects found in order to bring it up to standard, and any recommendations as to what is needs by way of on-going maintenance works. Given the specific nature of these requirements, it goes on to recommend such inspections should only be undertaken by qualified building professionals.”
Your property is likely to be the most valuable asset that you will own in your lifetime. Ensuring that it is well maintained is essential.
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