As the second month of the new year approaches, the stress of finding a place to rent for the next academic year seeps in as well (as if January exams weren’t stressful enough!). But the bigger problem is finding a house that is not only within your budget but is also energy efficient- because we all have to be good Samaritans to save this planet, don’t we? Well the good news is that all your misery will eventually come to an end and you will be booming with pride as you lounge on the sofa wrapped in a blanket (we don’t want to be using energy unnecessarily when a thick, warm blanket can do the same job, right? :D) for making it through, because trust me I was in the same shoes as you but now I am living comfortably in a private rented flat with my twin brother.
So just to tell you a bit about myself, I am a second-year undergraduate student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I was involved with the Student Switch-Off as an ambassador for my hall last year and now I am living in the private rented sector. I pay directly for how much energy I use; hence I have a greater incentive to save as much energy as I can and all the energy saving tips we used in halls help me a lot right now as well!
One of the biggest lessons I learnt from my experience of house hunting was failing to pay attention to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). So, my advice to anyone searching for houses would be to make sure the EPC has a rating between A-D because it is definitely something I would consider for any future properties. The EPC also gives more information about insulation of the house and this gives an indication of the amount of energy you could expect to spend on heating (obviously, try and look for a well-insulated flat).
When we live in a hall, we never really care as to how much energy we use because the cost of energy is already included in the accommodation fees and we hence fail to realize how important it is to be energy efficient! Therefore, one of the other things my brother and I decided to do is to switch to a tariff that charges more for energy usage during the day and a lower amount at night. Why is this so beneficial? Well, as students, both of us spend most of our day at university hence having to pay a lower rate for energy usage in the evening means more savings (which can be used to fund that trip to Europe you have been planning for ages!). Moreover, I try to carry out tasks such as doing laundry and cooking as well as switching on the heating in the evening because of this. My brother and I also study in the living room instead of two separate rooms so that we only switch on the heating of one place rather than the whole house.
My biggest tip would be to try and cook meals for the whole week/for several days at one go; it not only saves energy but also saves you a lot of time! Why not set rules in the house that your flat mates must follow? For example, the rule in my house is that we will only switch on the heating if we still feel cold after wearing a hoodie/sweater and socks in the house.
Energy consumption is a huge topic of debate around the world and the abnormal weather patterns are a clear indicator of a serious need for climate control! The question is then how can we, as individuals, do something to win this losing battle? Hopefully this article has given you some insight into using energy efficiently when wading into the unknown territory of renting a house!