With winter approaching, and energy price rises already here, private tenants might be wondering how they’ll make ends meet over the next few months. They might be concerned about the environment as well, especially considering the glut of David Attenborough documentaries on BBC these days. Did you know that a whopping 40% of the UK’s energy is used for heating and powering buildings? It’s a troubling statistic we shouldn’t ignore.
However, one of the easiest ways to save energy, lower bills, and ultimately make homes more sustainable is currently being ignored by many tenants, landlords and agents across the land: installing a smart meter. According to Smart Energy GB, just 21% of private renters use a smart meter. Surely we can all do something about that, right?
Introducing Smart Meter Awareness Week
Fortunately, Smart Energy GB are on the case. They’ve launched the first ever Smart Meter Awareness Week (running from 18-22 October) to increase awareness, promote the benefits of smart meters, and boost take-up asap. The aim is to help letting agents, landlords, and tenants realise that there’s no reason not to install a smart meter in every rented home.
A big part of the campaign involves myth busting: according to their research, 40% of landlords believe it’s their responsibility to install a smart meter when this is actually something a tenant, who pays the bills, can arrange. Meanwhile, letting agents aren’t sure either: 38% mistakenly think it’s purely up to the landlord, too.
Smart Meter Awareness Week will make sure that everyone knows the score. Smart Energy GB set up a dedicated page on their website which provides up to date information and resources for the private rented sector. They’re also running a webinar on 19th October at 6.30pm to discuss why smart meters are so important and how to install them. You can sign up for the free webinar here.
The benefits of smart meters
Smart meters can help tenants to control their energy use because they show exactly how much gas and electricity is being used, as well as what it costs, in real time. Tenants can then use energy-guzzling appliances less often, or at least use them at times when electricity costs less.
People tend to use less electricity when they can see their bills mounting up. Putting the kettle on, for example, uses stacks of energy compared to other appliances. In fact, us Brits use more electricity making tea and coffee than we do cooking with electric ovens.
Tenants with smart meters soon realise this; therefore they’ll only boil their kettles when necessary, and only boil as much water as they need.
Is the government helping?
Smart meters are very much part of the government’s plans to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. Energy providers now have to provide smart meters when requested by customers. In fact, all suppliers must offer every customer a smart meter by 2025. What’s more, these must be installed free of charge.
The government also wants to make sure that landlords don’t unreasonably stop tenants from installing smart meters. After all, some tenancy agreements have clauses that specifically prevent tenants from installing smart meters without permission.
Boris’s batch are also considering new legislation that would make the presence of smart meters a minimum energy efficiency requirement in the private rented sector.
Smartening up the sector’s act
Letting agents can boost the number of smart meters in rented homes by recommending them to both landlords and tenants. At the moment, however, too many agents are in the dark themselves.
Smart Meter Awareness Week will help agents to have the facts at hand. Then they can explain who should take the initiative and really ram the message home that every home should have a smart meter at its heart.
Agents can also explain the numerous benefits. After all, smart meter technology is improving all the time. Customers can now be switched easily from credit to prepayment modes when appropriate. What’s more, smart meter interfaces can now be accessed via tenants’ mobile phones; therefore it’s a cinch to top up without popping down the shops.
Get on-board yourself
Propertymark are also supporting Smart Meter Awareness Week. Here’s what Timothy Douglas, their Policy and Campaigns Manager had to say: “Tenants, landlords, letting agents and energy companies all have a role to play in improving smart meter take up. Through Smart Meter Awareness Week, we hope that the sector will be better informed about the benefits of smart meters and understand the installation process.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Indeed, we heartily recommend that agents install smart meters at their offices, too. It’s one of the easiest things your business can do to become more sustainable. Download our free Sold On Sustainability Guide to find out more.