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Insulation most popular energy efficiency improvement among tenants

When tenants were asked what energy improvements they would like to see made to their homes, the most popular answer was insulation, according to the TDS Charitable Foundation’s latest Voice of the Tenant Survey. Although the Great British Insulation Scheme is available to support all or some of the costs incurred from installing insulation measures, work may be needed to ensure the Scheme is accessible to those who need it.


30% of tenants stated insulation among the energy upgrades they would like

From a sample of nearly 2,000 tenants, 46% believed the energy efficiency of their property could be improved, whilst 44% said they were facing difficulties paying their energy bills.

Over 900 tenants went on to specify which energy improvements they would like to see. The most popular response was insulation (30%). The second most popular upgrade related to windows, with 27% of tenants saying they would like improvements like double glazing.

Although improvements to heating systems were the third most popular (around 13%), heat pumps were the least mentioned upgrade at just 0.3% and only 4% suggested they wanted a boiler upgrade.

Varying costs for different insulation measures

All homes in the Private Rented Sector must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of grade E or above. However, there is a cap of £3,500 for the costs of the various measures that might be expected to achieve this minimum requirement. If costs go beyond the cap, then buildings may be exempted from the EPC minimum.


Whilst the cost of cavity wall insulation can be in the region of £1,000 for a mid-floor flat, internal wall insulation can cost around £7,500 for a 3-bedroom semi-detached house. External insulation can be higher and might even require planning permission. Moreover, not all homes will be able to install the cheaper cavity wall insulation, if those homes have solid walls.


As such, whilst some insulation costs and other improvements can be below the cap of £3,500, the cap may exempt homes requiring the most work to meet an acceptable energy efficiency level.


The Great British Insulation Scheme

Available to both tenants and landlords, the Great British Insulation Scheme works with certain energy providers to deliver, for free or at a reduced cost, one of several insulation measures (including cavity, internal and external) per home, depending on an assessment.

There are two key groups who are eligible for the scheme: 1. low-income occupants receiving one of several benefits (e.g. Universal Credit) or 2. properties with an EPC rating of D to G and which are in council tax bands A to D.

Whilst eligibility for the Scheme is broader than that of other schemes, such as the Energy Company Obligation Scheme, the Voice of the Tenant survey findings indicate that work may be required to ensure that all eligible tenants and landlords are able to access the Insulation Scheme and get the help they need to improve the energy efficiency of their properties.


Improving standards and developing policy in the private rented sector

The Dispute Service supports an evidence-based approach towards improving standards and developing policy in the private rented sector by providing a range of resources.

Here you can find information and our responses to key policy proposals affecting landlords, letting agents and tenants. We also carry out in-depth research on a range of issues in the sector and analyse key datasets.

Research         Policy             Reports 


About the Author

Dr Jennifer Harris, Head of Policy and Research at The Dispute Service

Dr Jennifer Harris is Head of Policy, Research and Strategy at The Dispute Service where she is establishing a new department to support an impartial and evidence-based approach towards improving standards in the private rented sector. Jennifer holds a PhD from the University of Bristol Law school. Prior to joining The Dispute Service she led the Raising Standards in the UK Private Rented Sector research programme within the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) and has also worked as the Research Manager at the national organisation Homeless Link.

The views expressed in this content are solely those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the views of TDS, its officers, or employees.




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