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4 Energy Saving Changes All Commercial Property Owners Should Make

Energy efficiency in residential properties is a massive problem – Kevin McCloud, the famous Gran Designs host and co-founder of the Future Living retrofit firm, has been quoted as saying “There are some 26 million homes in Britain, most of them about as well insulated as a rabbit hutch, and they need immediate help to be made less wasteful.”

Whether you own large apartment complexes or simply a handful of houses, improving efficiency can seem expensive and daunting, but it needn’t. We all know there are plenty of ways to save money throughout your buildings, and they don’t necessarily have to represent a large amount of investment to yield results (something that’s particularly important in buildings with flat-rate utilities)

1. Energy Efficiency Audits

The government is set to make energy audits a legal requirement within the next 18 months – requiring all large enterprises to have undertaken an energy audit by December 5th 2015, with requirements for regular further audits every four years after this. While this is set to be legally applicable to those really big firms, there’s no reason why a commercial property owner can’t reap the benefits for their residential portfolio.

The aim of the audits isn’t to catch anyone out – it’s to provide cost-effective recommendations for areas which can be improved upon in regards to energy efficiency and carbon output. This advice is invaluable since it relates specifically to your property, saving you from filtering out general advice which may or may not apply to your buildings.

2. LED Lighting

Of all the cost effective changes you can make to a property, LED lighting probably represents the greatest value for money. Replacing bulbs doesn’t require buying new light fittings or carrying out complicated and expensive refurbishment, and yet it still yields the same results as the technology you’re replacing – with the added benefits of significant cost reduction, of course.

According to a study carried out by California’s Energy Commission, which was released just last month, utilising energy efficient LED lighting in place of standard bulbs cut running costs by 50% without any impact on lighting levels. Lifespan is another excellent cost-saving measure, helping to offset the high initial cost of the bulbs – LED bulbs must legally last at least 6,000 hours, with some brands lasting as long as 25,000 hours.

3. Energy Efficient Air Conditioning

If you run homes, apartment buildings or other kinds of domestic dwellings utilising air conditioning then an update can make an enormous difference to running costs. Aside from the R22 phase out forcing many owners to replace units, the cost of running HVAC systems can be very high – increasing energy consumption by as much as 100%. While new systems can be expensive, integrating it as part of a refurbishment can be the most beneficial way to carry this out.

The great thing about choosing a refurbishment firm who can carry out air conditioning installations, is that due to their focus on commercial properties they’re typically able to provide energy performance certificates, too. Not only does this give you legal paperwork you need, but you’re also able to prove your building’s efficiency status to potential tenants.

4. A Proactive Approach To Green Strategies

Ultimately, the most effect change you can make to the way you operate is to alter approaches and attitudes towards energy efficiency – and given that it’s free to do so, it’s the cheapest change as well. Of course, this can have positive knock on effects to your portfolio of properties even if you don’t see any direct cost saving methods.

An overall higher energy efficiency rating goes a long way to making a property more desirable, leading to higher values and increased interest from prospective tenants. Research carried out last year carried out by the government’s Department of Energy & Climate Change (which you can see in full here) found that a property or dwelling with an EPC rating of A or B is worth an average of 14% more than one with a much worse rating – though in some areas, the value difference can be as much as 38%.

The above changes are by no means exhaustive (undertaking an energy audit as per the first point could reveal a plethora of different cost-effective methods you could implement), but can go a  long way in terms of making a real difference to running costs, tenant satisfaction and retention, as well as returns on rental values. The great thing about them all is that require very minimal outlay of time or money – letting you reap the rewards and improve the country’s overall carbon output at the same time.

This was a guest post written by Tom McShane in conjunction with Contract Property Services – one of the UK’s leading commercial property refurbishment companies. 

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