Posted on

Insulation: Households could save £300 in new insulation scheme

Insulation: Households could save £300 in new insulation scheme

 

Households could save around £310 a year through an expanded scheme to insulate Britain’s draughtiest homes, the government has said.

It will spend £1bn from next spring on grants for homes that have low energy efficiency ratings and are in lower council tax bands.

Households will need to contact their energy supplier or council to see if they are participating, it said.

But critics questioned why the funding would not be available over winter.

The Department for Business, Energy, Industry and Skills (BEIS) said households who currently did not benefit from any other government support would be able to upgrade their homes under the ECO+ scheme.

The grants will help households to fund low-cost measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation, with the average cost per household expected to be £1,500.

A new £18m public information campaign will also offer advice on how to reduce energy use in the home, “without sacrificing comfort”, BEIS said.

Some of the government’s tips include:

  • Turning the “flow temperature” of your boiler down from 75⁰C to 60⁰C (which is different to turning down your thermostat). It is often done by adjusting a dial on the front of your boiler. It will make no difference to the temperature a room is actually heated to but may mean it takes longer for your rooms to heat up.
  • Turning down radiators in empty rooms
  • Reducing heating loss from the property by draught-proofing windows and doors

Mr Shapps said the ECO+ scheme would “enable thousands more to insulate their homes, protecting the pounds in their pockets and creating jobs across the country”.

Without insulation, indoor temperatures are difficult to maintain, and homes can lose up to 45% of their heat, according to the Energy Savings Trust.

In a typical three-bedroomed semi-detached house in the UK, the Energy Savings Trust estimates that installing draught proofing measures plus cavity wall and loft insulation could save £555 on an average annual energy bill.

Insulation measure savings and costs

“We’ve spent around £6.6bn on improving millions of homes so far,” Mr Shapps told the BBC. “This is actually a scheme for people who have been left out thus far because their homes haven’t qualified.”

But shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds told the BBC the measures were “so late when we should have been doing so much more for so many years previously”.

He also accused the government of a lack of ambition when it came to plans to end the country’s dependency on fossil fuels.

An already existing ECO scheme is targeted at people in social housing, on low incomes or who are fuel poor.

However, under the expanded scheme, people whose homes have an energy efficiency rating of D or below can get help, whether they are in private, rented or social housing. Energy efficiency ratings run from A-G, with A being the best and G the worst.

Applicants will have to live in properties covered by council tax bands A to D, according to reports.

If you are eligible for support, your energy firm will do a survey and pay for the improvements.

Despite targeting middle earners, the government says about a fifth of the new £1bn of funding will be reserved for the most vulnerable households.

Fuel poverty campaigners welcomed the measures but said more needed to be done to help those most in need.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said the “scheme is not designed to reach the most vulnerable, it’s designed to reach people who haven’t been able to benefit from previous schemes”.

“We believe government focus should be on the worst first, helping people in the greatest risk, the greatest jeopardy, more of this money should be going to help them.”

UK lags behind

The UK is often described as having some of the oldest and least energy efficient housing in Europe.

Two years ago, BBC research found 12 million UK homes were rated D or below on their Energy Performance Certificates, which means they do not meet long-term energy efficiency targets.

Currently 46% of homes have an energy efficiency rating of C or above, up from 13% in 2010, according to BEIS.

In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a new target, to reduce energy demand by 15% by 2030.

BEIS said this target would be backed by an additional £6bn investment after 2025.

Mr Hunt said the ECO+ scheme would help “hundreds of thousands of people” to improve the insulation of their homes.

Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Georgia Whitaker said nearly seven million homes were suffering fuel poverty, while 19 million homes in England and Wales are badly insulated.

“This is a drop in the ocean compared to what people actually need to stay warm and well this winter and in the winters to come,” she said.

Posted on

‘Government acts to protect tenants’ says Gove in landlord clampdown

‘Government acts to protect tenants’ says Gove in landlord clampdown

 

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has made an announcement overnight that “the government will always act to protect tenants.”The claim comes as part of an announcement giving cash to seven areas to clamp down on rogue private landlords. At the same time there is to be a cash squeeze on failing social landlords, as a result of the tragic death of Awaab Ishak.

The Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has revealed overnight that £14m is to be given to seven areas with high numbers of poor privately rented homes “to crack down on rogue landlords and test new approaches to driving up standards.”

Projects include £2.3m for Greater Manchester – including Rochdale and surrounding councils – to increase the use of fines where a landlord is found to have committed an offence; £678,000 for Leeds to use behavioural science to change culture among landlords, improving knowledge and skills; and £1.14m for Cornwall to create a database of private rented accommodation in the area and record standards to target better enforcement action.Meanwhile the social landlord at the heart of the Awaab Ishak case – Rochdale Boroughwide Housing – will now not receive its expected £1m funding from the Affordable Homes Programme or receive any new AHP contracts for new homes, until the Regulator of Social Housing has concluded its investigation and it can prove it is a responsible landlord.

Gove says the government will also continue to monitor housing standards of RBH tenancies closely, working with the Regulator and Ombudsman, to ensure that tenants have appropriate housing.

As part of a wider crackdown on poor standards, Gove adds that he will also block any housing provider that breaches the Regulator’s consumer standards from new AHP funding until they make improvements. Gove will also consider stripping providers of existing AHP funding, unless construction has already started on site.

The move comes after Gove wrote to all councils and housing associations last weekend, saying they must raise the bar dramatically on standards and demanding urgent action where people complain about damp and mould.

Gove says: “RBH failed its tenants so it will not receive a penny of additional taxpayers’ money for new housing until it gets its act together and does right by tenants. Let this be a warning to other housing providers who are ignoring complaints and failing in their obligations to tenants. We will not hesitate to act.

“Everyone deserves the right to live in safe, decent home and this Government will always act to protect tenants.”

Want to comment on this story? If so…if any post is considered to victimise, harass, degrade or intimidate an individual or group of individuals on any basis, then the post may be deleted and the individual immediately banned from posting in future.

Posted on

Investors scramble to dump UK property funds as valuations dive amid widening Kwarteng mini-budget chaos

Investors scramble to dump UK property funds as valuations dive amid widening Kwarteng mini-budget chaos

 

Following last week’s bond market turmoil, which sent shockwaves through the City, investors are now scrambling to exit UK property funds.Since the new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, presented his Mini-Budget at the end of September, the pace at which investors are pulling out of UK commercial real estate funds has accelerated.

In the 10 days following Kwarteng’s presentation, more than £100m alone was pulled from a range of property funds that are monitored by fund trading provider Calastone, according to a Financial Times report this week. This was reportedly eight times the outflow of the previous three weeks together.

City analysts now warn that the scramble to flee property funds may lead to property being offloaded at depressed rates.

Commercial property markets are already suffering from higher borrowing costs and given the fact that deal-making has slowed makes it harder for key players to determine realistic evaluations.

“One way or another those assets are going to have to be sold into a down market,” said Zac Gauge, head of European real estate strategy at UBS in the FT.

Gauge and other property analysts expect sales property to change hands at up to 25 per cent less than earlier this year.

Roger Clarke, head of IPSX, an exchange for property, said in the FT that there is a crucial flaw in the structure of funds that usually allow buyers the opportunity to exit at just a day’s notice.

“The funds are forced to sell their best assets.”

Roger Clarke

“The redeeming investors are then getting their redemption at the expense of the rest of the people in the fund [if valuations decline],” he told the paper.

“So the rational investor puts in a redemption request,” said Clarke.

Fire sale

The turmoil in the property market follows other reports that, in a near-unprecedented rush by British pension funds to raise their cash holdings, Goldman Sachs and a range of other investment giants are planning to snap up UK assets at discounts of up to 30 per cent.

Since Kwarteng’s disastrously received mini-budget at the end of September, UK pension funds are rushing to improve their cash holdings by selling liquid assets.

Kwarteng’s mini-budget caused outright panic in the gilts market, which forced the Bank of England to step in.

Despite the Old Lady’s intervention, pension giants are now planning to put a range of illiquid assets on sale, including private credit, property and stakes in buyout vehicles, according to various reports, including the Financial Times.

“We’re seeing discounts of 20 to 30 per cent for a high quality portfolio [of stakes in private equity funds],” Gabriel Möllerberg, a managing director at Goldman Sachs Asset Management, told the FT.

“It’s absolutely an opportunity,” Möllerberg stressed.

In addition to Goldman Sachs, other investors, including Blackstone, have the fire-power to buy pension fund holdings trading at below face value prices.

City A.M. understands Blackstone currently have no plans to do so.

Wave of takeovers

The transactions are usually negotiated and agreed privately and may take up to several months to close but investors are convinced the City can expect a wave in the final months of this year, the FT wrote.

“In these market conditions, you get very attractive buying opportunities,” according to Ross Hamilton at Switzerland-based private equity firm Partners Group, which buys pension schemes’ private fund stakes.

“We’ve got dry powder of over $9bn . . . it’s an exciting opportunity for us,” Hamilton told the paper.

Most British pension funds zoomed in on illiquid assets as they were keen to pump funds into investments that returned higher yields.

Many pension funds moved into illiquid private markets in search of higher yields during a decade of low interest rates. However, that tide turned drastically earlier this year.

“There’s a cold wind blowing for more illiquid assets,” concluded David Lloyd, fund manager at M&G, in the FT.

He stressed pension schemes are bracing themselves for cash demands from buyout groups whose funds they used to finance takeovers in recent years.

Posted on

You may not like landlords but we need them

You may not like landlords but we need them

 

Sounds of wailing and gnashing of teeth drift down from the rooftops. They are emitted by landlords, not a social group as likely to evoke pity as are widows and orphans. They nonetheless feel embattled, threatened with legislation to end so-called no-fault evictions, together with increasing taxation. They warn of a contraction of the housing rental market, even as millions of people are unable to buy.

They point to the example of Scotland, where similar legislation and a rent freeze have provoked just such a shrinkage. In February the Scottish Association of Landlords claimed a 50 per cent year-on-year reduction in properties being marketed to let, which it largely attributed to the SNP government’s policies.

This is an issue that touches almost all of us, as lessors, lessees or parents of children who rent. Whereas in 1988 (all the figures below are government-sourced) just 9 per cent of householders were private tenants, today that figure has doubled because of the pincer consequences of the sell-off of the public housing stock together with soaring purchase prices.

A friend laments that his daughter, aged 32 and earning £120,000 a year, cannot afford to buy. Another friend describes how his daughter, a medical student, has suffered miseries at the hands of an owner unwilling or unable to mend a broken boiler. It is terrifying to read that the average 2021 monthly rent in London was £1,597, compared with £572 in the northeast.

Since 4.4 million UK households occupy rented accommodation, the government’s summer white paper A Fairer Private Rented Sector made front pages. Because most British people, unlike Europeans, rent only from necessity rather than choice, they feel imprisoned by their predicament and, not infrequently, by their landlord.

The Renters’ Reform Bill inspired by Michael Gove, the levelling-up secretary, looks like a vote-winner which the homelessness charity Shelter applauds as a game-changer for tenants. Last month ministers promised that the measure will be introduced in this parliament.

Yet there is another side of the story. Precisely because property is so widely unaffordable, a healthy private rental sector is indispensable. As are landlords. If legislation bears down too heavily, some at least will abandon letting, sustaining the current upward pressure on rents caused by shortage of supply.

Landlords point to the paralysis that overtook the pre-Thatcher market, when it was almost impossible to evict tenants in rent arrears, a situation ended only by her 1988 Housing Act. They argue that if the weight of regulation continues to increase, those bad old days will return. They instance the ever-more rigorous requirements for energy performance certificates and the costly health and safety standards that do not burden owner-occupiers.

Many landlords already experience difficulties and, above all, long delays in expelling antisocial or non-paying tenants. A contested eviction can cost £3,000-plus in legal fees, along with many months of lost rent. If an owner behaves decently and performs necessary maintenance, it is hard to get rich out of most lettings. There is no special virtue in small landlords as against big ones because the former often lack the support machinery to maintain properties efficiently.

My wife is one of 43 per cent of all landlords who lets just one property, her former home. This yields a modest net return, considerable worry and once, a few years ago, serious pain. A solicitor who had heard of me telephoned to ask if we had just sold a house in Fulham. No, I responded. Odd, he said: somebody had certainly disposed of such a property in our name. We proved to have been early victims of what became a notorious scam. A crook had rented, paid an accomplice to secure a passport in my wife’s name, “sold” the house and vanished.

Fortunately for us, the Land Registry had not endorsed the sale but the buyer’s six-figure payment vanished for ever to Dubai. We challenged the failure of the letting agent to smell a rat, not least when the “tenant” whom they had recruited paid thousands in cash. They shrugged that they were mere rent collectors. Nothing to do with us, guv. The firm proved reluctant even to surrender the tenant’s deposit to make good the mess.

That was an extreme case but the small minority of bad tenants — one owner suggests that they constitute 5 per cent of the total — inflict serious loss. He says: “We love good tenants, but the defaulters can cost a fortune.” The same friend, one of the 18 per cent of landlords that have five or more properties, feels ground down by ever-more demanding health and safety requirements, and ever-increasing restraints on getting problem cases out.

The proposed legislation will allow tenants to appeal against rents to a tribunal which will have power only to lower, not to increase, amounts, thus granting appellants a free pass. The government promises to end automatic rent review clauses in leases and to tighten lending criteria for buy-to-let mortgages.

Those of you who have read thus far may still not be shedding tears for persecuted landlords. Why not? First, because property owners are by definition “haves”. Meanwhile, unless one lives in Eaton Square or Wimpole Street on one of the huge, fat aristocratic Grosvenor, Cadogan or Howard de Walden estates, many tenants are relative have-nots.

Next, we feel guilty about the estimated 2.8 million people who live in “desperately low-quality homes”, to quote the white paper. We also know that, historically, the landlord-tenant relationship was tilted too heavily in favour of the former.

At regular intervals, cases hit the headlines of tenants monstrously treated by extortionists, latter-day Peter Rachmans. Statistically, these are few, because the law provides the protection absent in the 1960s. Each such story, however, feeds the characterisation of landlords as oppressors of the vulnerable.

Having read most of the white paper and talked to rival advocates in this debate, there seems merit on both sides, as is the case with almost all vexed issues. Whitehall appears in danger of overreach, however; of so overloading landlords’ regulatory burden that ever more turn to the Airbnb option as an alternative to long-term lets. In the government’s eagerness to please millions of tenants and their lobbies, it may neglect the fact that landlords also need rights in order to stay in business.

Successive governments flunk the core problems. Foremost is the national housing shortage, much influenced by indulgence of elderly voters’ nimbyism. Gove, introducing his white paper, spoke of a need to “support the vast majority of responsible landlords who provide quality homes”. Yet the planned legislation promises a degree of tenant protection that can scarcely fail to squeeze the rental sector even as mortgage interest rates rise, worsening the unaffordability of purchase. We need more, not fewer, private landlords.

Posted on

Sustainable Warmth Grant available for eligible households and Private Landlords

Sustainable Warmth Grant available for eligible households and Private Landlords

 

THURROCK Council are working with an Essex wide energy partner called Warmworks to help households who are eligible in the borough to become more energy efficient.To be eligible for the scheme your home must be rated as Energy Performance Certificate E, F or G, or you have a household incomed below £30,000.

Cllr Luke Spillman, Cabinet Member for Housing, said, “This is a wonderful offer for those living in properties who are eligible and help for private landlords, the funding is a grant that does not have to be repaid.

“Thurrock Well Homes Team are identifying the properties that are known to the council as having a low Energy Performance Certificate, to work with residents in making their home more energy efficient.

“If our homes are running more efficiently, this will ultimately bring the energy bills down, which is some relief given the current cost of living.”

Improvement measures available by the grant include: insulation, low carbon heating systems, solar panels, ventilation, energy efficient lighting and more. Please note, gas and oil boilers are excluded from this specific funding.

The funding covers the cost of improvements up to £10,000 for properties that are on mains gas, and up to £25,000 for homes that are not on mains gas.

There is funding available for private landlords. However, a 33% contribution from the landlord is required and the maximum funding per property is £5,000.

For more information on the sustainable warmth grant, and to submit your application with Warmworks, please visit thurrock.gov.uk/warmth, or contact Thurrock Well Homes Team by emailing: wellhomes@thurrock.gov.uk or calling: 01375 652 391.

For more information on cost of living support visit thurrock.gov.uk/costofliving

Posted on

HMRC steps up search for landlords with undeclared rental income

HMRC steps up search for landlords with undeclared rental income

 

Landlords are being encouraged to get their accounts in order after an accountant specialising in buy-to-let property warned that HMRC is intensifying its efforts to track down those with undisclosed income.Since the government launched its Let Property Campaign in 2013 – an initiative which allows landlords to declare unpaid tax in return for a discounted penalty – more than 58,000 disclosures have been made to the authority and approximately £250m has been recovered in unpaid taxes.

Despite this success, HMRC has been intensifying its efforts to track down landlords with undisclosed income, and many landlords are now facing demands for back payment of taxes and associated interest, as well as facing large fines.

Penalties for undisclosed income can be hefty, ranging from 10% and rising to 100% of the rental income in some cases. Furthermore, landlords who receive letters demanding payment from HMRC will pay substantially more in fines compared to those who declare their income voluntarily.

Donna McCreadie, a buy-to-let specialist at Perrys Chartered Accountants, commented: “HMRC has numerous ways to find individuals who haven’t declared rental income, and their resources for investigating are extensive.

“These include gathering information from HM Land Registry and Stamp Duty tax returns, reviewing reports from lettings agents and tenancy deposit scheme providers, carrying out online searches, making door to door enquiries, receiving reports from members of the public and collecting information from other government departments, such as the electoral register.

“The law allows HMRC to go back up to 20 years and, in some cases, HMRC may carry out a criminal investigation.”

“It is important to remember that not declaring rental income is a criminal offence,” she added.

Posted on

101 Ways How To Sell Your House Faster (And For More Money, Too)

101 Ways How To Sell Your House Faster (And For More Money, Too)

 

If you’re considering moving house, or your home is already up for sale, the following list of 101 ways to sell your house faster will be right up your street.

In many cases, implementing as many of these suggestions as possible will also increase the likelihood of you achieving a higher sales price too! It’s a win-win!

Internal Improvements

There are a number of improvements you can make to the interior of a property to help give it that ‘wow’ factor and ensure it will appeal to more buyers.

1. Paint Old Wall Tiles – Dated bathroom or kitchen tiles can easily be given a fresh, new look with a lick of tile paint. You’ll need to clean and sand the tiles first, then apply both primer and tile paint to get the best results. Multiple coats will probably be needed but it’ll be worth it.

2. Refresh Grouting – The grouting between tiles can soon become discoloured and stained over time. If the grouting is otherwise in good condition, a grout pen can be bought for just a few pounds to repaint the grouting and make it look clean and fresh again.

3. Repaint Walls In Neutral Colours – Houses with neutral decor tend to sell faster than those with unusual or strong colours. That’s because they are more broadly accepted and make it easier for people to imagine themselves living there.

Repaint any walls that are particularly strong with more neutral colours.

4. Change The Carpets – Old carpets can make houses feel dated and uncared for, they can even make rooms feel smaller and darker. Swap any dated carpets for fresh neutral ones to give a room an instant lift.

Install A Log Burner - Ways To Sell Your House Faster

5. Install A Log Burner – Log burners are very much ‘in’ at the moment as people love the idea of sitting by a fire on a cold winters night.

With the ever-rising cost of gas and electric, they are seen as a good way for homeowners to reduce energy bills, making log burners an attractive addition for potential buyers.

6. Create A Kitchen-Diner – Kitchens are no longer seen as simply the place where people prepare meals. Families increasingly are spending more time in the kitchen, or certainly at the kitchen table. That’s why many buyers put a combined kitchen-diner on their ‘must-have’ list and why, if you can create one in your home, you should.

7. Change Kitchen Cabinets – Better yet, if the cabinets themselves are in good structural condition, save yourself some money and just replace the cabinet doors and worktops. This can give the impression of having a brand new kitchen but at the fraction of the cost of a complete revamp.

8. Update The Bathroom – According to many property experts, the kitchen and the bathroom are the two most important rooms in the house.

Therefore, if your bathroom is looking dated, it might be worth having it replaced, although keep in mind that while your home may sell faster, the sale price may not rise by as much as you spend on the bathroom refurb.

9. Use Mirrors Wisely – A well-placed mirror can make a small, dark room feel bigger and lighter. Place them opposite windows so they can bounce the light around the room and put them at eye-level to give a ‘never-ending’ feel to a room.

They work particularly well in hallways as people also like to check they look OK before leaving the house.

10. Re-arrange Furniture – You’ve probably had your furniture laid out in their current positions for years, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to position things.

Have a go at moving furniture around to see if you can find another layout that makes the room more practical or feel larger. Don’t be afraid to get rid of some furniture if this helps your cause.

11. New Blinds & Curtains – Another easy way to revitalise a tired looking room is to replace old blinds and curtains with new ones. Stick to fairly neutral, modern-looking designs to ensure they appeal to as many prospective buyers as possible.

Use Lampshades To Sell Home Quickly

12. Use Lampshades – Every light fitting in the house should have either a proper decorative light fitting or a nice, fresh lampshade to make the house feel more like home.

13. Add A Loft Conversion – Extending into the roof space isn’t cheap and isn’t for the light-hearted, however, when done well they can add as much as 12% to the value of a home. The extra space can also help you appeal to more buyers, making it one of the best ways to sell your house faster.

14. Convert The Garage – Who uses garages for parking cars in these days? Hardly anyone. Therefore, if your garage is attached to your house, consider converting it to turn it into an extra bedroom or living space.

Houses with converted garages tend to sell for around 10%-20% more than similar properties that haven’t carried out a conversion. Again, the extra space you create can also help you find a buyer more quickly.

15. Knock Down A Wall – Open-plan living is all the rage now with many people specifically seeking out free-flowing properties were the main living spaces merge into one.

If knocking down walls to create open-plan living is possible, it’s worth considering. Just keep in mind that not everyone prefers open plan living and so it may not be worth the cost. Check with a local estate agent first to get a feel for the desired trend in your area.

16. Uncover Original Features – If you live in an older property, you’ll often find that some of the original features have been covered up over time. Beautiful old fireplaces and beams can often be revealed with a little bit of work to make for stunning focal points in a room, adding plenty of character to your home.

External Improvements

Never underestimate the importance of first impressions. Spending some time improving the exterior of your home will help to boost the kerb appeal of your home.

17. Add Extra Parking – Paving or concreting over part of your front garden to provide additional parking is a great way to appeal to more buyers. Owning a car is no longer a luxury and more than 30% of households now have two or more cars, that’s why good parking provisions are a must-have for many house hunters.

18. Add A Juliet Balcony – Juliet balconies are the ones where you have french doors on an upper level protected by a railing. You can’t walk out on to them but they do allow you to let much more light and air into a room making them popular amongst buyers.

If you have the option of adding a proper balcony, even better!

Add A Conservatory To Increase House Value

19. Add A Conservatory – Perhaps not the cheapest option but conservatories remain very popular amongst house hunters. In fact, they are said to increase the value of a house by around 7%.

20. Put Up A New House Number – Kerb appeal counts for a lot and putting up a clear, modern house number won’t just help people find your house, it will increase it’s attractiveness to potential buyers too.

21. Refurbish Your Front Door – Sticking with the kerb appeal angle, a tatty front door can give potential buyers the wrong impression before they have even stepped foot in the house! Clean or upgrade the door handles, letterbox, or the whole door itself to ensure you don’t put people off.

22. Make Front Gardens Low Maintenance – With busy modern lives, many buyers prefer not to have to spend hours working in their garden, particularly the front garden. If you can pave or gravel over areas to prevent the need for cutting the lawn or weeding the flower beds you can make your property a more appealing proposition for potential buyers.

23. Install Decking – Decking has a number of benefits, it’s cheap and simple to install yet it still looks great and spruces up any garden. It also helps to create a space that needs much less maintenance.

Better yet, decking is thought to add around 2% to the value of a house. Just make sure it’s in tip-top condition so that restaining or repairing it doesn’t make it on to a prospective buyers ‘to-do’ list.

24. Re-lay An Uneven Patio – Whether you can afford to completely replace the patio, or can get away with just pulling up the slabs, re-levelling the ground, and relaying the existing slabs, giving some love to an uneven patio can help you find a buyer and is a great way to sell your house faster

Internal Maintenance

You may have got used to the little quirks of your house, but they will stand out like a sore thumb to potential buyers, so it’s best to sort them out before showing viewers around.

25. Fix Dripping Taps – You know that tap that’s been dripping so long you’ve just got used to it? It needs fixing. Dripping taps alone are unlikely to put buyers off, but if combined with other problems it could indicate to a potential buyer that you haven’t taken care of the property and there may be other issues yet to be found.

26. Add More Storage – A house with little or no storage can be a turn-off for potential buyers, especially those with children. Look at ways you can add storage with custom-made cupboards or by boarding out the loft space.

27. Oil Creaking Doors – Like dripping taps, a creaking door alone shouldn’t put a buyer off purchasing your property if it’s right for them. However, it’s one of those things that’s so easy to fix, there’s no reason not to do it!

28. Install More Electrical Sockets – You’ll need to ensure you use a qualified electrician, but, adding more sockets to a room can help increase the layout options for potential buyers. This can aid their imagination when thinking of where their furniture could go, a vital step towards securing a sale!

Check Lightbulbs Work When Selling Your Home

29. Check Lightbulbs Work – Replacing any blown or missing light bulbs is simple to do and helps make rooms feel more light and airy.

30. Replace The Shower Curtain/Screen – Shower curtains and screens usually develop black mould spots over time which makes them look old, uncared for, and possibly unclean. Give them a good scrub, but if the stains won’t shift, replace the entire thing!

31. Replace Silicone Sealant – Silicone sealant is used around the edges of baths and sinks to create a nicer join and prevent water seeping into unprotected areas. Over time, like with shower curtains, mould spots can appear. Replacing the silicone is a relatively simple job and can make a bathroom or kitchen feel clean and new again.

32. Replace Misty Windows – If you have condensation that forms between the panes of glass on a double glazed window, that means they are no longer effectively insulation your house. It also indicates the windows may need replacing soon.

Save your prospective buyers a job by replacing the windows that are misting up. It may even be possible to just have the existing windows resealed which will save you considerable money.

33. Fix Damp Problems – Damp issues will show themselves as stains, marks, or mould on an internal wall or as ‘spongy’ feeling floorboards. Usually damp is caused by an external problem such as a leaky gutter or blocked drain.

Solve the cause of the damp first, then rectify the damage. If left untreated, damp can lead to serious issues and so will often put buyers off.

External Maintenance

You need to create an impression of a well-maintained home to avoid scaring off buyers who may think that smaller issues could lead to finding larger issues once they have moved in.

34. Repoint Cracked Walls – Cracking of external walls is fairly common. It usually indicates that some kind of movement has happened in the past. If this movement is long-standing and non-progressive, repoint the cracks to make the building look like it’s been properly cared for.

34. Repair Leaky Guttering – Leaking or blocked gutters can cause significant damp issues if left untreated. Fixing them not only helps avoid this, it also makes your property look like it’s in better overall condition.

35. Add Outside Lighting – This is particularly important when the nights draw in and viewings in the dark become commonplace. Outside lighting will make your home look more welcoming from the moment a potential buyer arrives, helping to make the right first impression.

Replace Missing Roof Tiles

36. Replace Missing Roof Tiles – Damaged or missing roof tiles have the potential to cause problems if water is able to penetrate into your property. Get them replaced now to prevent any costly further damage.

37. Get The Pressure Washer Out – It’s amazing how much dirt can accumulate on paths, driveways, patios, and even walls. In fact, you probably won’t even realise how dirty things are until you start cleaning them. Use a pressure washer to quickly lift off the dirt and significantly increase the kerb appeal of your home.

38. Refelt Flat Roofs – If any part of your roof is flat, check whether it’s in need of refelting. Properly installed, well-maintained flat roofs can last for 20-25 years.

39. Clean Fascias – The boards which your guttering is attached to is the fascia, while the board underneath is called a soffit. Cleaning the guttering and fascia board is a great way to give the outside of your home a facelift in advance of selling.

40. Check Your Doorbell – The last thing you want is to miss a potential viewing because you didn’t hear them at the door! Check your doorbell is working as it should be.

41. Repair Broken Fences – If your fencing is damaged in some way, make sure you repair it in advance of putting your property on the market. Often you’ll be able to repair it without spending much, but be prepared to completely replace the fence or panels if needed.

The Property Listing

The property listing is the advert for your home. It will directly influence how many viewings get booked and the level of offers you receive, so, it’s important to get it right.

42. Use Online Estate Agents – As the homeowner, you know what it means to live in your property. You can therefore probably do a better job of selling your property than any estate agent (see this video). And that means you may be able to sell your house faster with an online estate agent where you can conduct viewings yourself and make almost instant changes to your property listing.

Online estate agents also tend to have longer opening hours, meaning it’s easier for potential buyers to book viewings. If you need some help in choosing the right agent for you,  make sure you read our online estate agent reviews.

43. Lower Your Asking Price – Obviously, you’ll want to get the highest possible price for your property so you shouldn’t do this unless absolutely necessary. But, if you feel your home is overvalued or you want to sell quicker, drop your asking price a little to attract more interest.

44. Upgrade Your Property Listing – Property portals such as Rightmove offer property listing upgrades to make your listing more visible to potential buyers.

For an additional fee, they can bump it to the top of the search results, highlight it in a different colour, and add various other upgrades. Talk to your estate agent to see what’s possible.

Use Better Property Photographs

45. Use Better Photographs – Don’t think you have to go with the first set of photographs your estate agent produces. If you feel they can get better photos, ask them to redo them or provide your own. Equally, you can try using different photographs as the main image on your property listing to see which one produces the most interest.

46. Add A Virtual Tour – Make sure you make use of all options on your property listing. If your estate agent offers a virtual tour, get it added to your listing. The more you can do to draw people into booking a viewing, the better.

47. Sell To An Investor – Depending on the type and price of your property, it may appeal to an investor. If you can find an investor who wants to buy your home, the advantage is they’ll usually be chain-free and cash buyers, helping the sale go through more quickly. On the downside, you might have to accept a lower price than you would if selling to a normal buyer.

48. Use Social Media – According to research, the average person now spends 1 hour and 40 minutes on social media platforms every single day. That means sharing your property on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms is a great way to generate additional exposure for your home.

49. Sell At An Auction – Like selling directly to an investor, property auctions mean you might have to accept a slightly lower price for your property than if you find a buyer on the open market. However, despite that, property auctions are one of the best ways to sell your house quickly so shouldn’t be entirely discounted.

Internal Staging For Viewings

To successfully sell your home, buyers need to feel like it’s already theirs as soon as they walk in. Correctly staging your home for viewings will help to increase the likelihood of someone falling head over heels for your home.

50. Take Magnets Off The Fridge – If you have magnets, photos, or even children’s drawings stuck to your fridge, remove them for viewings. Doing so helps to de-personalise your home, making it easier for potential buyers to imagine themselves living there.

51. Clear Kitchen Counters – Removing as many things from the kitchen worktops as possible will help to create a tidier, more spacious looking kitchen and help show you are not pushed for storage space.

52. Remove Personal Photos – This is really important but overlooked by many sellers. Like removing fridge magnets, taking down personal photos during viewings will make it easier for potential buyers to picture their own photos and furniture in the property.

53. Put Beds In Bedrooms – If you’re currently using a bedroom as a study, storage room, or anything that isn’t a bedroom, it’s time to revert it back to it’s intended use.

Placing a bed in a bedroom makes it much easier for people to imagine the room as a bedroom and get a sense for how much space is available in the room once a bed is in there.

54. Have A Spring Clean – Get right into the nooks and crannies of every room to dust away dirt and cobwebs. Doing so will create a cleaner, fresher environment and show you are house-proud and have taken care of your home.

55. Declutter – One of the single, most effective ways to sell your house faster is to have a full declutter and sell or dispose of any unwanted items or furniture. Doing so will help de-personalise your home, make it look larger, and make your job of packing much easier!

Start Packing To Be Ready To Move House

56. Start Packing – Similar to decluttering, if you have places where you can store boxes out of sight, it’s never too early to start packing a few non-essential items.

Packing early will have a similar effect as decluttering, but will also help you move more quickly when an offer does come in. Just don’t overdo it and leave your house looking empty and soulless!

57. Turn Up The Heating – If the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to make your home delightful! When potential buyers come out from the cold into your nicely warmed property, they’ll immediately feel more welcome and more at home. It also helps to show your heating system is in full working order.

58. Put Bread In The Oven – The smell of freshly made bread has long been known to influence our buying behaviour. That’s why supermarkets often deliberately let the smell drift around their store and why estate agents often recommend baking bread just before a potential buyer arrives.

If you don’t have time to make a dough, the part-baked loaves of bread you can buy at the supermarket are a good compromise.

59. Use Air Fresheners – Most homes have a distinctive smell, but as the owner, you probably don’t notice it. It’s not necessarily a bad smell but it’s still worth using air fresheners to help make your home more inviting. This is particularly important if you have pets that could cause odours.

60. Turn On Lights – If a property feels dark it can also feel colder and smaller. Even the lightest room can feel a little dark on overcast days. Turn on lights throughout the house just before a viewing to ensure your home feels warm, light, and welcoming.

61. Open Blinds – Similar to turning on lights, making sure all blinds are open will help make your home look more light and airy as the natural light floods in.

62. Play Calming Background Music – Music is used all around the world to set the right atmosphere in bars, restaurants, and even shops, so, why should your home be any different?

Playing gentle, calming music in the background as you show people around your home helps people relax and feel at home

63. Remove Pet Bowls, Toys, And Bedding – Have a quick sweep around your house before a viewing appointment arrives and pick up and items belonging to your pets. They not only make rooms look untidy but can also omit pet odours that will put some buyers off.

64. Get A New Doormat – Doormats are one of those things that are easy to get used to, even when they are dirty or in poor condition. Yet, they are one of the first things a visitor to your home will see.

Making sure you have a nice new, clean, doormat helps to give the right impression the moment (literally!) someone steps through the door.

Put Fresh Flowers On Table

65. Put Fresh Flowers On Tables – Flowers are great at brightening up a room and adding a subtle, natural fragrance. Use them to your advantage and place them in the centre of a table, on a sideboard, or on the mantlepiece for best effect.

66. Clean The Oven – A clean oven is a sign that you have cared for your property and the items in it, and yes, some people DO check inside ovens during viewings! Make sure it’s clean and sparkling to create the right impression.

67. Polish Door Handles – Dirt and finger marks on door handles is a big turn-off for many potential buyers. If your door handles are looking a little grubby, make sure you give them a good clean and polish to bring back a bit of sparkle!

68. Wash And Put Away Pots – Leaving dirty plates out on kitchen worktops is a big ‘no-no’ when showing potential buyers around your house. They signify a lack of love for the property and can make it look like there isn’t enough storage space.

69. Turn Off The TV – Unless you want to deliberately mask noise from outside (in which case, see tip 62), turn the TV off to give viewers a chance to really image themselves living there.

70. Get A Smaller TV – As technology has improved, our television sets have got larger and larger. And, a large TV makes a room look smaller so downgrade at least for a little while to avoid people dismissing your property as too small.

71. Make Sure All Rooms Have A Purpose – And no, a storage room does not have a purpose! You want to give people creative ideas about how space can be used, they’ll find that harder to do if a room is unused or just being used for an unusual purpose.

72. Freshen Up Your Sofa With A Throw – Worn or tatty sofas can be brought back to life with a nice new throw to cover any unsightly bits and give a better first impression when someone enters a room.

External Staging For Viewings

As soon as a potential buyer pulls up outside your home, they are already judging it to make sure it’s right for them. Making sure it looks at it’s best from the moment they arrive is key to finding a buyer fast.

73. Mow The Lawn – Long, uncut grass gives the impression your home is uncared for and may have hidden issues. Therefore, cut the grass regularly, particularly if you have a front lawn so that you create the correct first impression.

74. Plant New Flowers – The colours and smells of fresh new flowers growing in your borders will brighten up and garden and ensure your outside space is welcoming and appealing to potential buyers.

75. Restain Sheds & Fences – Nothing makes a garden look old and unkempt than sheds and fences that haven’t been restained or treated for years. A fresh link of wood stain or paint works wonders on the overall look of your garden.

Weed The Garden For Viewings

76. Weed The Garden – Who wants a garden full of weeds? It’s one of those tedious jobs we’d all rather not do, but having a good weeding session before a viewing is like giving your garden an instant facelift.

77. Clean The Windows – A layer of dirt on your windows and window frames instantly gives the impression your house has been left to deteriorate. Don’t let that put off potential buyers, get the squeegee out!

78. Tidy The Garage – For some reason, many sellers forget that a buyer may want to see inside the garage. A tidy garage shows you are organised and have everything in order – attractive qualities when it comes to progressing a sale.

79. Trim Overgrown Bushes – Keeping bushes neat and tidy helps to create a better impression. That said, it’s best to avoid trimming bushes between March and August when birds may be nesting inside.

80. Hide Wheelie Bins – We know you can’t make them disappear, but placing wheelie bins somewhere discreet creates a better impression.

Try and avoid leaving them on display at the front of the house. If needed, buy purpose-built wheelie bin storage to keep bins hidden.

81. Check Your Neighbours Gardens – We know this can be tricky but if your neighbour has an untidy garden, it could put someone off buying your house. Offer to have a tidy up for them if necessary.

The Viewing

‘Selling’ your property during a viewing is vital to achieving a sale. The good news is, you’re probably much better at it than you think!

82. Include ‘Extras’ – To encourage a quicker sale or attract a higher sales price you can include extra items such as sofas, sheds, white goods, etc in the sale.

Buyers may like the fact they can save themselves money on some furnishings and you end up with one less thing to move or sell. It’s win-win!

83. Move Pets – We don’t mean permanently! Making provisions for someone to look after your pets during viewings can stop them putting off buyers who aren’t into pets.

84. Know Your Area – The more you know about your local surroundings, the better you’ll be able to ‘sell’ your property during viewings. It’s, therefore, one of the most powerful ways to sell your house faster.

85. Know Your Property – Likewise, the more you know about your home, the type of heating you have, when the extension was added, and so on, the better you’ll be able to ‘sell’ your home.

86. Know Your Buyer – Understanding exactly what your potential buyer is looking for is vital if you want to be able to point out the best bits of your house that they’ll be interested in.

87. Understand Benefits – When you show people around your property, be sure to mention the benefits of any features you point out. For instance, the new combi boiler you just had installed isn’t just a new boiler, it’s more efficient so saves money on heating bills.

Remember that it’s the benefits that really sell something to a prospective buyer, not the features. You can read more about this in our article on how to conduct your own viewings.

Host An open House To Sell Your House Faster

88. Host An Open House – An open house is where, rather than having specific time slots for each viewing, you allow everyone who is interested to turn up and view the property during a specific time slot.

The advantage of an open house is that multiple people will be looking at the property at once, that adds some competition and fear of missing out, which helps to get more offers and drive up the price.

89. Printed Brochures – House hunters will often view more than one property in the same day. Therefore, having a properly prepared printed sales brochure at hand means your viewers can take something away to remind them what your property offered.

90. Use A ‘For Sale’ Board – A ‘For Sale’ board is a great way to advertise your property for sale to passers-by. In fact, you would be surprised at how many people book viewings after driving past a ‘For Sale’ board.

91. Check Out The Competition – If any of your neighbouring properties are up for sale, be sure to check out their property listings to see how they differ from your home.

That helps you understand what you’re up against and ensures you know how to put your property in the best possible light compared to your neighbours.

92. Be Ready For Unexpected Viewings – Once your property is on the market, it’s not unusual for you to get last-minute viewing requests. By ensuring your house is always well-presented you won’t have to turn any of these viewings away.

93. Leave Your Driveway Free – When someone views your property, you want them to feel like they already live there. That will allow them to fall in love and put in an offer. Leave your driveway free for them to use to enhance the feeling it’s already theirs.

94. Arrange Viewings For The Right Time – There are probably good times and bad times for people to view your property. If you live near a school, this could be during school rush hour when parking becomes difficult. If you live near a pub, this could be a Saturday evening when things can get a little rowdy.

Think about what times of day would put your property in a lesser light and try and avoid arranging viewings for these times.

95. Put The Kettle On – Again, you want people to feel at home when they view your property. So, one of the best ways to sell your house faster is to offer them a cup of tea or coffee when they arrive so that they feel more at home.

96. Don’t Leave A House Empty – Many people lack the imagination needed to picture how a property will look with furniture in. That’s why in new builds, there’s always a fully furnished show home you can view.

So, don’t leave a house or even a room completely empty. If you need to, pick up bargains from charity shops or freebies from places such as Freecycle in order to kit out an empty property.

Helping The Sales Process

There are several things you can do to help speed up the process and ensure a quick sale even once an offer has been accepted.

97. Move Into Rented Accommodation – Your house instantly becomes more attractive to buyers if you’re not in a chain. Not only that, taking yourself out of a chain by agreeing to move into rented accommodation means at least one fewer cog in the chain that could break and cause the sale to fall through.

It also means there are few complications likely to slow the whole process down, allowing you to reach the point of exchange far, far quicker.

Conduct A Survey On your Own Home

98. Conduct A Survey – If you do decide to stay in a chain and find somewhere to move to, make sure you get a survey carried out as quickly as possible to show you are serious and give yourself plenty of time to deal with any issues it highlights.

You could also conduct a survey on your own property and provide it to the buyer in order to avoid having to wait for them to carry out their own, thus speeding up the process. Just be sure to use a fully qualified chartered surveyor.

99. Appoint A Solicitor – The earlier you can appoint a solicitor to handle the conveyancing process for you, the better. Even if you’re not ready to give them the go-ahead yet, at least do your homework now so you can move faster when you are.

100. Apply For Planning Permission – If your property is likely to attract buyers who will want to develop the property through an extension or other work that would require planning permission, apply for it in advance.

Not only could this add a substantial amount to the value of your home, it could also help the sales process go more smoothly once you’ve accepted an offer.

101. Keep The Pressure On – You might need to regularly chase your estate agent and/or solicitor in order to keep things moving forward. Don’t be afraid to put the pressure on to keep the sale on track.

Phew! You made it! So, that’s a massive list of 101 ways to sell your house faster. It might be a long list but it’s still not a comprehensive list.

Get creative and think logically and you may come up with even more ways to sell your house faster!

Posted on

Home insulation grants: can you get help paying for loft and cavity wall insulation?

Home insulation grants: can you get help paying for loft and cavity wall insulation?

 

Home insulation grants can help you get loft and cavity wall insulation, potentially saving you more than £1,000 on your annual energy bills.

Winter is approaching and even with the government’s ‘energy price guarantee’, keeping bills down is a priority for many households in the face of rising inflation and costs.

But you can save costs by keeping the heat in your home with loft and cavity wall insulation.

Here we explain how much insulation can save you, what grants are available to help pay for it and how you can insulate your own home.

WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN INSULATION MAKE TO YOUR BILLS?

A quarter of heat is lost through the roof if not insulated, Energy Saving Trust(opens in new tab) explains. This is the case with all types of roofs including sloped, flat or loft space.

According to EDF(opens in new tab), both cavity wall and loft insulation can save you up to £1,060 per year on energy bills.

CAVITY WALL INSULATION

If we break it up into the type of home you live in, here’s how much you could save annually if you get cavity wall insulation alone, according to Energy Saving Trust:

TYPE OF HOUSE ANNUAL SAVING (£)
Detached house £480.00
Semi detached house £285.00
Mid-terrace house £180.00
Detached bungalow £195.00
Mid-floor flat £145.00

These figures are based on the current energy price cap of £1,971 set by Ofgem(opens in new tab).

LOFT INSULATION

Energy Saving Trust also worked out how much you could save annually if you get 270mm of loft insulation:

TYPE OF HOUSE ANNUAL SAVING (£)
Detached house £580.00
Semi detached house £255.00
Mid-terrace house £230.00
Detached bungalow £365.00

Before looking into it, you should also check if your home needs loft or cavity wall insulation as it depends on how old your house is and its wall type.

For example, Energy Saving Trust(opens in new tab) says houses built after the 1920’s are likely to have a cavity wall, which are 2 walls with a gap, the gap being the ‘cavity.’ Houses before this time might have a solid wall, in which case you don’t need cavity wall insulation.

WHAT HOME INSULATION GRANTS AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE?

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, means there are grants available to insulate your home.

Big energy firms like British Gas, E.ON, Scottish Power and Octopus Energy are taking part in the ECO scheme, and they are offering to insulate your roof and cavity wall for free (subject to terms). You can find yoru firms contact details on the Ofgem website(opens in new tab)

The government says(opens in new tab) you could be eligible if you live in private housing (for example you own your home or rent from a private landlord) and get one of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Pension Savings Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Benefit
  • Housing Benefit

The energy rating of your home also matters.

  • If you own your house, it must have an energy efficiency rating of D, E, F or G to be eligible.
  • If you rent from a private landlord, the house must have an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G to be eligible. You must have the owner’s permission to do the work.
  • If you live in social housing that has an energy efficiency rating of E, F or G you might also be eligible for help with insulation or installing a heating system for the first time.

You can use the energy performance certificate register(opens in new tab) to find your property’s energy efficiency rating, or ask your landlord.

The criteria includes the homeowner must be claiming benefits which is listed on the government website, and it depends on the energy efficiency rating of your home.

WHO CAN DO ROOF AND CAVITY WALL INSULATION?

Energy Saving Trust advise that cavity wall insulation is not something you can do yourself and you should get a professional in to do the job, someone who is registered. For a detached house, having cavity wall insulation put in costs around £610.

To find some trustworthy to carry out the work, you should look out for a tradesperson who is a member of one of the following:

When it comes to loft insulation, if you have easy access and there is no condensation or damp issues, then you could do it yourself, saving you money in the short term and long term.

If you prefer to get a professional in to do the loft insulation for you, then you can do so. It’s good to check that they are part of the National Insulation Association(opens in new tab) to ensure they are trustworthy.

Whether you’re looking for a tradesperson to do loft insulation or cavity wall insulation, you can also check on the Trustmark(opens in new tab) website to see if they are trusted by the government.

Labour costs average around £250 per day. Depending on the type of roof insulation you want, material costs can vary between £10 to £40 per square metre, according to Checkatrade(opens in new tab).

CAN YOU INSULATE YOUR LOFT YOURSELF?

Yes. It’s a relatively straightforward DIY task for a fit and healthy person.

DIY retailer Wickes(opens in new tab) recommends you first, clear the loft to ensure you have a safe working space.

  1. Lay walkboards on the loft ground so you can use it to walk across, lean on and place the insulation on.
  2. Then, measure the insulation roll and the space between the loft joists and cut the roll according to the size of the gap. You usually get 400mm or 600mm roll sizes.
  3. Once cut, put the insulation down covering the walkboards. Start from the furthest corner and make your way to the loft hatch. It’s important that you have to squeeze the insulation in with a ‘friction fit’ so there are no gaps, otherwise heat can be lost.
  4. Also remember not to press down hard on the insulation as this can reduce how well it insulates. It’s good to keep any off cuts you have to fill any small spaces.
  5. Once the first layer is complete, unroll the second layer over the top of the first (which doesn’t need to be cut to any particular size, as long as it’s covering the first layer).
  6. Lastly, don’t forget to insulate the loft hatch.

WHAT INSULATION PROBLEMS SHOULD YOU LOOK OUT FOR?

After having loft or cavity wall insulation installed, new or old problems can occur. You may find damp after a loft or cavity wall insulation.

This can be for several reasons, a damp problem could have occurred at the time of the installation, the house might not be right for the measured insulation, the insulation wasn’t done correctly or there might have already been a damp problem that was never resolved.

Energy Saving Trust(opens in new tab) recommends that if you can’t put your finger on the problem, then you should look out for damaged/ blocked gutters, missing slates or tiles, damaged bricks, plumbing leaks or excessive moisture.

Posted on

Solar panel sales boom as energy bills soar

Solar panel sales boom as energy bills soar

 

 

The energy bills crisis has prompted a big rise in demand for solar panels.

 

Just over 3,000 solar installations are being carried out every week, according to trade association Solar Energy UK, up from 1,000 a week in July 2020.

One provider said this month it had seen enquiries about solar panels rise tenfold.

“More solar panels are being put on British roofs than ever before,” said Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK.

The fact that renewable energy helps protect the planet has always made it an attractive option.

The way they work is simple: the panels absorb sunlight through photovoltaic cells which convert it into electricity that can be flowed through your home, or into a battery.

The process significantly reduces the amount of electricity you will need from the network.

People who have successfully installed solar panels report saving hundreds of pounds on electricity bills.

But they are not the answer for everyone, as installing them means an upfront investment of thousands of pounds and you’ll need the right type of property.

Soaring energy prices, however, have slashed the time taken to recoup your initial costs.

How much does it cost?

A decade ago a typical solar panel system cost around £20,000 and would take around a decade to cover those set-up costs.

But prices for solar panel systems have fallen by more than 60% since then, meaning it takes between four and five years for a system to pay for itself.

The price includes installation and the number of panels will depend on how much space you have on a roof. A typical 20sq m roof could hold 12 panels.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggests a standard solar panel system costs between £9,000 to £11,700, while Solar Energy UK lists the cost of a “typical” 3.1kWp system for a three-bed house as £3,925.

What you’ll end up paying will depend on the size of the system, the type of panel you choose, the quality of components, the accessibility and state of repair of your roof, and the individual installer, says Which?

What types of properties are suitable?

Not everyone will own a home that can benefit from solar energy, especially if you own a north-facing property, or your home is largely shaded.

“Solar panels are perfect for residential properties with a south, east or west-facing roof, preferably without any shading,” says Mandip Bhamra, head of renewables at SaveMoneyCutCarbon.

“Depending on how old your house is, you may want to check your roof is structurally sound before fitting the solar panels onto it,” says Brian Davenport, owner of The Solar Centre .

He says most installers will have access to a structural engineer for calculating the wind-load should a roof show any signs of distress.

“There should also be a small amount of room made available in your loft for the inverter, which is roughly the size of a microwave,” he adds.

If you live in a flat you’d need to discuss the issue of installing solar panels with other residents and the freeholder.

“For a block of flats, most roofing should be fine, and with some flats where there is excess land, these can be placed in the ground too,” says Mandip Bhamra.

How much could solar power help reduce your bills?

The amount of electricity solar panels generate depends on the type and size of system and home.

A report for Solar Energy UK suggests that a typical home could cut electricity bills by more than £300 a year. Households with electric heating could be more than £900 a year better off, the report said, although most UK households remain on gas central heating.

If energy bills rise as predicted this winter, then the value of electricity generated through solar panels could almost double, says Kevin Holland, managing director of The Solar Shed, a Norfolk-based renewable energy business.

He says a typical solar panel system could generate £1,200 worth of electricity in a year at current prices.

If energy bills rise by 80% in October plus a further 50% in January, as forecast, then the value of electricity generated by a typical system could climb to around £3,240.

Also, if you don’t actually use all the electricity you generate, you can sell that surplus to an energy firm.

‘Solar panels help me save £80 a month’

Colin Froude installed solar panels on his detached home in Salisbury, Wiltshire 11 years ago.

“I’ve never regretted it. It paid for itself in about seven or eight years and now my energy bills are just £67 a month, a saving of up to £80 a month,” says Colin, who used to be in the Royal Air Force but is now retired.

“Paying that by standing order means I’ve actually built up a £330 credit in recent months so even when bills climb in October I won’t increase my standing order as that credit should see me through into the New Year.”

He spent £18,000 on installing 19 solar panels on his home in 2011 and says that has since generated £21,000 worth of electricity.

He spent another £12,000 installing a battery, new transformer and optimisers fitted to each panel a year ago but says that has improved efficiency enormously.

The move paid off. The system generated 1,600kwh in three months this summer.

“I did it to future-proof the house as protection against power cuts but it’s rapidly paying for itself.”

He cooks with electricity and says the solar panels generate all the hot water the household needs, so in the summer months when the heating is off, he pays nothing for gas.

“Given the rising cost of energy I would recommend solar panels to anyone,” he says.

What else should you bear in mind?

It’s a big investment so there are several things to consider.

“Well-chosen solar panel systems can provide a reliable source of renewable electricity for decades, helping to cut your carbon footprint, but buying an inappropriate system could leave you out of pocket,” says Which?

In other words it’s important to do thorough research and get a variety of quotes.

It is also worth considering that however much you splash out, it may not add an equal value to your home. Ageing, unattractive old solar panels could well put some potential buyers off.

 

“As long as you can’t see them, solar panels are a great idea,” says Charlie Wells, managing director of estate agency Prime Purchase.

“Estate agents are unlikely to offer a higher valuation if a property already has solar panels installed,” says Brian Davenport.

But some buyers will be attracted by renewable energy and the chance to save cash on energy bills, says Kevin Holland.

“If there are two houses in the street for sale, one has no solar and a £4,000 energy bill, the other has solar and a £1,500 energy bill, which one are you buying?” he says.

Posted on

Collapse of supplier Bulb could add more than £150 to energy bills

Collapse of supplier Bulb could add more than £150 to energy bills

 

Households could end up paying more than £150 extra on their energy bills because of the collapse of Bulb, as the price of bailing out the failed supplier threatens to top £4bn by next spring.

The cost of bailing out the UK company, which has about 1.4 million customers, has escalated because of rising wholesale gas prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Office for Budget Responsibility said in March that the bailout would cost £2.2bn over two years. The consultancy Auxilione forecasts that Bulb could lose a further £420m for the six months to October, when households use less energy, and £1.6bn during the colder winter months.

Bulb is in a special administration overseen by the UK government and run by the restructuring firm Teneo. The government has refused to allow it to hedge – where companies buy energy at a fixed price for a certain period – exposing it to rising gas prices.

Bulb was one of 29 suppliers to have collapsed during the energy crisis, with many caught out by sharp rises in prices combined with a lack of hedging.

The Auxilione director Tony Jordan told the Financial Times the government “was paying a high price for the lack of hedging, and costs could rise even higher if gas prices continue to soar”.

Bulb was considered too large to fail and the government stepped in to handle its administration. However, it has yet to find a buyer, with only Octopus, the UK’s fourth largest supplier, still interested in a deal.

Octopus has offered to take over Bulb’s customers if the government buys gas and electricity in advance at a cost of £1bn, the FT reported. Octopus has also offered terms under which it would share in the profits of Bulb’s customers with the government should they become profitable. The Octopus chief executive, Greg Jackson, declined to comment on the report.

Wholesale gas prices soared again on Monday – with the UK month ahead price up 16% to 535p a therm.

The Russian state energy company Gazprom said on Friday – after financial markets closed – that it would halt natural gas supplies to Europe through its main Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days at the end of the month.

The unscheduled maintenance on the pipeline under the Baltic Sea will take place on 31 August until 2 September.

Industry watchers fear that Russia will not switch supplies into Europe back on, forcing countries to cut their gas consumption and risking a recession in Germany, which relies on Russian gas imports.

The energy crisis in Great Britain is expected to deepen this week when the regulator Ofgem announces the level of the industry price cap, to be introduced in October. It is forecast to rise from £1,971 to £3,582.

Dale Vince, the founder of the supplier Ecotricity, said Britain’s energy supply system is “broken” and consumers should not have to pay for the cost of suppliers’ failures in their bills.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This problem predates the Ukrainian war. We have a systemic failure in the energy market; the government does need to intervene. We shouldn’t expect customers to pay the cost of this failure and the Ukraine war.”

Jackson said energy supply retailers were a “profit-free zone”. “You can’t expect the energy customers or indeed retailers to carry the cost of a war.” Jackson said gas prices are nine to 11 times higher than normal. “If this was beer, we’re talking about the wholesale price being £25 a pint,” he added.

Vince backed the idea of a deficit fund, which energy suppliers have proposed to the government. Under the plan, energy bills would be frozen and suppliers would be able to access a fund to cover wholesale costs, which would be paid back over 10 to 15 years.