Energy efficiency checklist for renters

Here are some energy efficiency pitfalls to look out for in a rental 171 6009361 0 14019224 300

A growing number of Australians are choosing to stay on the rental treadmill. In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the proportion of Australians who live in private rental accommodation has grown from 26.9 per cent of all households in 1995-96 to 28.5 per cent in 2005-06.

This is likely to keep climbing as the cost of owning your own home continues to spiral. It also brings up an interesting point about energy use: With so many people at the whim of their landlord, how can you save money on your electricity and gas bills? 

There are some simple things you can do to achieve this. One of the benefits of living in a rental property is the flexibility to move once you've fulfilled your lease agreement. This give you a fresh opportunity to find a home that will suit your energy needs and goals. If you're on the look out for another rental house, make a checklist of things that will affect how much you pay to electricity and gas suppliers in your rental. Here is a list of things to keep in mind. 

1. Insulation 

Being a renter with energy efficiency in mind can be a little frustrating, especially since there's so much information out there about installing environmentally sustainable fitting and switching your home to renewable energy. You can still make a big difference to your energy usage and stay on your landlords good side - it's just a matter of planning. Permission is key when you're in a rental. Before making any adjustments to the property, it's best to have a discussion with your landlord or property manager.

This might include draughty window and door frames, and lack of insulation in the ceiling and walls. The Victorian Government has found that installing proper insulation in your walls, floors and ceilings could save you around 45 per cent a year in energy bills. Most heat is lost through the roof and walls, so check with the property manager about when it was last put in or examined. 

2. Window glazing 

Check the glazing on windows as well. This can be an easy thing to skip over, but a single glazed pane of glass can actually lose around 10 times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall, according to the state government of Victoria. While you probably won't be able to have these completely replaced, you can offset some of the heat loss with effective curtains and pelmet. Be on the look out for older or worn material, or blinds that are poorly fitted. This can increase the amount you pay to electricity and gas suppliers, especially during winter.

It's worth checking the options with the landlord. As a simple solution, you can put in thick or thermal lined curtains, which can stop or minimises the amount of hot air escaping. 

3. Hot water 

Unlike a homeowner, you likely won't have the option of installing a more efficient hot water system in your rental. Most properties will have one already in place, so it's a matter of understanding how each type works so you can use it more efficiently. According to the Department of Industry and Science, hot water accounts for around 21 per cent of an average households energy use. If you're lucky, the property might be hooked up to a continuous gas or solar hot water system.

Gas hot water systems are much more energy efficient than their electric counterparts - in fact, even though only half of Australian households use electric hot water system, they make up around 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from hot water. 

Once moved in, you can have a service like Make It Cheaper compare electricity rates for your rental. 

Posted by Nikki Wilson-Everett