Green smart homes can save the world and save you money
The world is getting greener and it’s about time too. Climate change is becoming more of a mainstream concern. This is particularly true for millennials, up to a third of whom could be renting indefinitely. This means landlords need to start waking up to the idea of going green in order to attract the increasingly eco-friendly Generation Rent.
Whereas it was once little more than a fringe concern, 42 per cent of tenants now say they take into account how eco-friendly a property is before making their choice and in London, this figure rises to 50 per cent. Indeed, the green credentials of a property are now of such vital importance that it’s even linked directly to the amount of rent tenants are willing to pay: 63 per cent of tenants paying between £1,351 and £1,600 a month say an environmentally friendly home is a top priority, compared to just 37 per cent of renters paying £350 a month or less.
So, it’s not only a moral imperative for landlords but a financial one too. Going green is not only good for the environment – it’s good for business. One of the most visible ways to create a greener property is to invest in smart tech.
Smart means green
Of course, for new build homes, it’s significantly easier to meet modern environmental standards. But with older properties – some of which might be over a hundred years old – it’s a little trickier due to the limitations of the property construction and layout, not to mention the building materials. That’s why the vast majority of landlords should be looking past the foundational changes and towards the retro-fitted alterations that could make a monumental difference.
In a culture of increasing waste and soaring temperatures, energy efficiency and durability should be crucial concerns for landlords looking to make their homes as eco-friendly as possible. So what are the more practical options for landlords looking to create greener and more cost-effective homes for their tenants?
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The most obvious place to start connecting your connected home is at the thermostat. Indeed, smart thermostats have become commonplace in the UK in recent years, with over 12.8 million smart meters currently installed in homes. Indeed, by 2024, every home in Britain should have at least been offered the opportunity to install one.
Not only will a smart meter dramatically reduce the energy that your properties could be wasting on poorly regulated heating but they can also be controlled remotely, allowing for greater flexibility.
These meters allow users to create automated heating schedules so that the property can be kept at a comfortable level throughout the day, and 83 per cent of users agree they also give them a better idea of their energy costs.
Some more modern devices can even ‘zone’ a property, so different areas are only heated when necessary. Others can learn your daily routine and automatically adjust temperatures accordingly and others even have geo-fencing installed. This means they can alter the heating automatically when the residents have travelled a certain distance from their home. So, even if they’ve forgotten to turn the heating down, the system is smart enough to sort itself out.
Even in homes that already have heating controls, smart heating has been estimated to save around 5 per cent in energy consumption, which means that in the average home they should effectively pay for themselves within about five years. For landlords, however, the real benefit is in giving their tenants more modern options when it comes to keeping themselves comfortable and environmentally secure.
Intelligent lighting works in a similar way to ‘zoned’ heating, in that it only illuminates the areas of the property that need it. It’s estimated that Brits are wasting £4.4 billion every year by leaving lights on unnecessarily and that’s before we even start on the environmental implications.
By installing occupancy and vacancy sensors, you could save up to 50 per cent on lighting costs and also add another string to your green bow.
These are sensors that detect when somebody has left the room and switch the light off automatically (vacancy), or switch the light on when someone enters a room (occupancy).
The former is more environmentally friendly, but either will certainly prove a wise investment. The only catch is that they can be complicated to set up and it can be hard to find the right sensitivity level. Once you’ve found the sweet spot, however, your tenants will wonder how they ever lived without it.
The next step up would be to invest in a system such as the Philips Hue, which allows you to not only control when the lights switch on and off but to control the depth and even the colour of the light either from a dedicated control panel or smart device. As they are LED lights, they also last around 10 times longer than a traditional bulb and very little heat is given off.