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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Installing Smart Meters to a rental property

Energy saving has become a big issue over the last couple of decades, alongside concerns over the environment, the austere economic climate has left many tenants needing to save on their bills.

Though helping to save your tenant money is not the direct responsibility of a landlord, helping your tenant budget their finances can be no bad thing.

Over the years, I’ve had a number of tenants come to me for advice on how to balance their personal finances, and I’ve been happy to give them help and guidance. Many tenants are young and often financially naive, by offering my guidance and steer them away form financial difficulties, I have kept the rent getting paid.

So anything that can help tenants reduce their bills is only going to reduce the chance of missed rent payments. One way to help is to reduce their energy consumption.

What are smart meters?

The government is due to facilitate a project to install smart meters in properties across the country.

Smart meters let people see exactly how much energy they’re using and how much it will cost. An easy-to-read display, helps people better moderate their energy consumption.

Why now?

When it comes to energy consumption, technology is really lagging behind when compared to other sectors. So many homes in the UK have their energy meters hidden in a cupboard underneath the stairs and are rarely, if ever, looked at. Smart meters provide a much more effective solution at showing how much energy is being used.

They do away with estimated readings as the information from the smart meter will be sent straight back to the supplier, meaning a tenant will only pay for the gas and electric that they’ve actually used.

How to get a smart meter?

Landlords could get a meter installed when a property is in between lets, or as I’ve been doing, encouraging new tenants to contact their gas and electric supplier to ask for one to be installed.

Smart meters are still a fairly new technology and whilst the aim is to get them in every house in the UK, not every property is currently eligible to get one so it will depend on the supplier.

Who will install it?

Smart meters are installed by the energy supplier, they will explain how they work. The display monitor is best placed somewhere where it will be easy to check. Often kitchens are the best place as they usually have a good number of outlets in different places, and often function as a home “hub.”

Will they really make a difference?

A recent ONS (Office for National Statistics) report showed that in 2012, the average British household spent an average of £106 a month on energy bills. This was up by 55% compared to 2002 stats, even after adjusting for inflation. What’s most alarming is that energy consumption actually fell in this period.

Other than rent and mortgage payments, energy bills are often a tenants biggest monthly monetary obligation. The better a tenant can budget, the less likely they are to find themselves struggling with their finances.

Though smart meters won’t automatically cut down a tenants energy consumption, it will at least give them a better idea of how much they’re spending on energy consumption on a day-to-day basis, and therefore help them better budget for other costs, such as paying the rent.

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