They look nice – but you don’t want to see one in your cupboard…

A week may be a long time in politics, but we are still delighted about last Wednesday’s announcement by Energy Minister Chris Huhne of a new initiative to address the issue of privately rented properties and energy efficiency.

From 2016, all private landlords will not be allowed to deny a ‘reasonable’ request for energy efficiency improvements (that’s only five years till this blogger can have her boiler replaced by one that actually works); and from 2018, they won’t be allowed to rent out an F or G  rated property at all (that’ll be the windows, then).

G banded homes are twice as common in the private rented sector as in the rest of England’s housing stock. F and G rated homes are cold, they are a risk to householders’ health and wellbeing , and they are – as our Chief Executive said last week – ‘way too expensive to run’.

There is discussion about how landlords will pay for this; but our report on F and G rated homes last year demonstrated how three quarters of F and G homes can be brought up to an E banding for less than £3,500. In most cases it’s about basic improvements like insulation and switching to a modern boiler.

This blog recently addressed the fact that most private tenants have never seen an energy performance certificate for their property – and most landlords have never been asked for one. But, whereas EPCs are a commonplace to homeowners, it’s privately rented properties that have a lower average energy efficiency rating. Tenants can benefit from being a little more savvy, and asking for one.

The Energy Saving Trust has been working for an announcement like this for a long time. Our Chief Executive, Philip Sellwood, greeted last week’s news with approval, saying:

This is about ridding the UK housing stock of the most environmentally damaging homes… Things could happen quicker but the approach Chris Huhne is taking is spot on.

So if you’re a private tenant, it might not be quite time yet to present your landlord with a shopping list and the phone number of an insulation installer – but here in the blog team, we might just start looking at the boiler websites and have a little daydream…