It is reported that at the end of March 2020, there were 1,656,000 non-domestic buildings in England and Wales, with the top three uses being for shops (29%), offices (20%), and factories (14%).
Within the commercial property sector in the UK, it’s common for business properties to be rented. In fact, the latest Property Data Report highlights that over 50% of commercial property is rented, compared to only one third of domestic homes.
Regardless of whether it’s the landlord or tenant that pays the energy bills for a commercial property, both parties can benefit from having a smart meter installed.
Whether that’s through cost-savings, accurate end-of-tenancy readings, preventing disputes, or doing your part for the environment, a smart meter can be a particularly helpful tool for landlords.
Read our smart metering install guide for landlords below to find out what a smart meter is, the benefits of a smart meter installation for landlords, and how you can get a smart meter installed at your property.
Smart Energy GB defines a smart meter as the next generation of gas and electricity meter. But what exactly does this mean?
Smart meters do the same thing that standard meters do in terms of recording your property gas and electricity usage. However, instead of sending in meter read numbers yourself, or having a utility worker come to your property to read the meter, a smart meter sends these readings directly to your property’s energy supplier.
For landlords especially, this can bring many benefits. Read on to find out how a smart meter could help in your rented properties and what your responsibilities are as a commercial landlord.
If you are a landlord that pays the energy bills for the property, it’s your decision whether you would like to install a smart meter. In recent years, there has been a focus on the benefits that a smart meter can bring landlords. In fact, a March 2021 report by Smart Energy GB reveals that 72% of landlords would agree to get a smart meter installed, and 1 in 4 have arranged a smart meter to be installed.
There are many reasons why this is the case, and we will discuss a few of the benefits of smart meters for landlords below.
Even without any tenants, your property will more than likely still use energy, for example, if you turn the heating on during cold periods, or if you need to show some new tenants around on a viewing.
In this case, you may also still need to pay a daily standing charge for keeping your property’s gas and electricity connected to the network.
As the landlord, if you weren’t already, you will become responsible for all energy bills incurred during a void or empty period.
Having a smart meter installed in your property will ensure that you will have accurate readings for start-of-tenancy and end-of-tenancy. This means that you will only pay for the energy used in the empty property between tenancies, rather than basing this information on estimated bills. This way, you can be confident that you’re not overpaying for any energy used in your empty property too.
As well as this, with a smart meter, daily or even half-hourly meter readings are sent to your utility supplier automatically. This means that you can save time, as you wouldn’t need to visit the property to manually take a reading at the end of a tenancy period. This is especially useful if you do not live near the property, or if it isn’t managed for you on your behalf.
Having a smart meter could also give you a way to reduce energy consumption and save money in your empty property. For example, appliances like TVs and microwaves still use energy even on standby. In fact, the Energy Saving Trust reports that the average UK household spends £35 a year powering appliances that are left on standby. This could be flagged on a higher-than-expected energy reading from a smart meter. You would then be prompted to visit your property to make sure your appliances are switched off at the plug, or any timers turned off.
As discussed, a smart meter allows you to have accurate readings for start-of-tenancy and end-of-tenancy, which is useful for a landlord because this reduces the risk of disputes.
For example, the tenants leaving your property may dispute their final bill with the incoming tenants, which could cause a lot of stress and wasted time for you as a landlord.
But, with a smart meter, your property’s energy bills will always be up to date, rather than relying on meter reading submissions and estimated bills. Therefore, the risk of a dispute is minimised, and there will be no over or under payments for you to sort out.
As well as this, tenants may forget to send in regular meter readings, meaning that bills would be based on estimates. If the tenant’s bills increase as a result of this, this could create some questions, that you would have to spend time to resolve. However, with a smart meter, this risk is also reduced, as meter reads are taken and sent to the energy supplier automatically.
With a smart meter, you will have accurate recordings of the energy costs of your property over a certain period.
This is something that you’d be able to share with any potential new tenants, to give them an idea of any extra costs that may be associated with the property.
This could even be a selling point for your property too. For example, if you have installed eco-friendly appliances that save energy, such as a D-rated fridge freezer, this would be reflected in a lower energy usage. For example, the most efficient fridge freezers on the market save you £420 over the lifetime of the product.
Smart meters show how much energy is being used in the property in near-real time, which can encourage reduced energy consumption. For example, switching appliances off standby mode at home can save £35 a year.
This not only helps save the bill-payer money, but can also contribute to reducing our carbon footprint as a nation.
Even if your tenants aren’t the bill-payers, having a smart meter installed may be particularly attractive to them, as consumers become increasingly eco-conscious.
During the pandemic, consumers adopted new habits, and a recent report by PWC reveals that these new habits have stuck, even as we start to recover from the effects of COVID-19. For example, the June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey reveals that 50% of all global consumers surveyed say they’ve become more eco-friendly.
So, whether you’re the bill-payer or not, it’s a win-win for both tenant and landlord – save money, and let your tenants know you’ve considered the environment.
As discussed, landlords installing smart meters has become increasingly popular. So, if you’re the bill-payer and want to reap the above benefits, it may be worth you arranging to have a smart meter installed at your property.
If you’re not the bill-payer and your tenants request an installation, Ofgem outlines that you should not stop the installation without reason. But- this also means that it’s the tenant’s responsibility to arrange the installation with their energy supplier too.
If you’re a landlord or a letting agent and have more questions about installing a smart meter, you may find the FAQs for landlords on the Smart Energy GB website useful.
If you’re ready to upgrade to a smart meter in your rented property, Valda Energy can help make the process simple and hassle-free.
Our Valda SmartChoice tariff is built around control over energy usage and spend, and our tailored Valda Energy app allows you (or your tenants) to access your energy-usage data 24/7.
So, whether you want to save money, manage your property’s void periods, prevent disputes, or offer a greener property to your tenants, Valda Energy can help. Contact us or get a quote today to see how we can help with your rented property.