High energy bills in Reading Berkshire.. What can be done?

Following the most recent increase in energy prices, the increase in our electricity and gas bills has reached an all-time high in Reading. When the new energy price cap came into effect in October 2022, the average Reading household energy bill hit £3,500 per annum. As a result of proposed changes to the minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating, property owners and private rental landlords (PRS) in Reading are increasingly worried about how to cope with the rising energy costs, as well as planning how to enhance their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to meet the standard minimum C rating for 2025’s suggested modifications.


What is an Energy Perfomance Certificate (EPC)?

An EPC is a legal requirement when renting a property and can help both landlords and tenants identify opportunities for improving the energy efficiency of their home. When buying a property the APC can help assess what updates can be carried out to improve the coast of the energy systemsin the property.  An EPC provides a rating for a property's energy efficiency on a scale from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). Possessing a high EPC rating can increase the desirability, affordability, and comfort of your house for both new and existing buyers or tenants.

All currently sold or rented properties in England and Wales must have an EPC rating of at least 'E'. EPCs are good for ten years and may need to be updated if your home has been altered since the assessment. The way assessments are carried out has significantly changed so you might be pleasantly surprised that your property now has a higher rating than it did a decade ago, even with no upgrades.


Rented properties:

The government's proposal for new EPC standards in England and Wales stipulates that by 2025 for all new tenancies and by 2028 for existing tenancies, landlords will be required to obtain a certification rating of at least 'C' in order to legally rent out a house, or face severe fines. If a property is not required to have an EPC, it is not required to meet the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. Landlords must register on the PRS Exemptions Register any properties that qualify for an exemption, such as grade-listed or conservation area properties. A waiver is valid for five years. Once you understand how your property is scored, there are a number of simple steps landlords can take to make their properties more energy-efficient, increase their EPC rating, and assist renters in reducing their utility expenses.


Owner occupied properties

30% of pre-war properties in England have an EPC rating of E or less, and this rises to 47% for pre-1900 homes.  In England, homes constructed after 2012 are approximately 200 times more likely to receive an energy rating between bands A and C than those constructed before 1982. Older houses were constructed to last for generations. To fulfil the government's goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, it is imperative that we regenrate our existing historic buildings instead of demolishing and constructing new ones, so that the CO2 emissions already embodied in existing structures are not lost through demolition.


How to get energy efficient in 2023:

  • Smart Meters: It is imperative that you at lowest consider the installation of a smart meter in your property. It will result in more accurate pricing for your tenants and eliminate the fees currently added to energy bills for metre readings.
  • Glazing: Upgrade your doors and window swith double or triple glazing for enhanced heat retention.  In addition to windows and doors, DIY draught-proofing can be accomplished around letterboxes, keyholes, and loft hatches. There are draft-proofing kits available online and in local hardware stores.
  • LED lighting: Replacing incandescent light bulbs with low-efficiency LEDs uses around 90 percent less energy and can last up to 15 times longer. Remember to instal illumination in ovens and exhaust hoods. It is a good idea to leave extra bulbs for the tenant so that they may always replace blown bulbs with the correct kind.
  • New Boiler: Ensure that your boiler is operating effectively: Maintain routine maintenance and verify that the heating controls, timers, and thermostats are correctly set. A condensing boiler recovers more heat from the exhaust flue gas and utilises it to heat the central heating water, making it more energy efficient.
  • Radiators: Ensure that the radiators are bled annually for optimal performance, and consider installing thermostat controls. Adding reflecting panels behind radiators can also decrease heat loss through exterior walls. These panels are particularly effective for radiators on solid walls without insulation.
  • Insulation: Protect your pipes by installing insulation around accessible hot water lines and the hot water tank using foam tubes. A cylinder jacket is inexpensive and simple to instal on a tank, but it must be at least 3 inches thick.  Natural cavity or solid wall insulation is one of the simplest and most cost-effective solutions to increase the energy efficiency of a residence. The walls of uninsulated homes lose more than a third of their heat. This is required mostly for your ground floors, roof, attic, and exterior walls. If your home's frame is made of steel, wood, or prefabricated concrete, you may require the assistance of an insulation expert.                                
  • New Appliances: Is your rental home furnished or equipped with household goods? When it's time to replace your appliances, you should consider purchasing goods with an A+++ energy efficiency rating.
  • Solar panels: Install PV panels with battery storage on your roof and use the excess energy generated at night. Change to a ground source heat pump: (GSHPs) are an alternative for extracting heat from the ground and using it to heat your home and water. Ground-source heat pumps are low-maintenance and can be used throughout the year.
  • Air source heat pumps (ASHPs): They contain a fluid that absorbs heat from the outside air and transfers it to the home's heating and hot water systems. ASHPs are easier to instal than ground-source heat pumps, and the pump unit is installed outside on a wall or the ground with sufficient air intake space.
  • Accessories: The greater the thickness of curtains, carpets, and rugs, the less heat will escape through windows and floors.


Are you and your tenants aware of the government grants that are available?

  • Energy Bills Support Scheme gives every home a £400 discount on their electricity bill beginning in October 2022. However, there is additional assistance available:
  • Winter Fuel Payment: A fuel subsidy of up to £300 for those born before October 5, 1956.
  • Cold Weather Compensation: A reward of £25 for each week of extremely cold weather between November and March.
  • Warm Home Rebate: A £140 saving for some Pension recipients.