How has lockdown affected Scottish renters?

The coronavirus crisis has turned the world upside down, with people having to change their way of life overnight.

Restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid-19 have seen much of the population spending the majority of their time at home.

This has had a number of impacts, including increased energy bills, higher wear-and-tear on decor and a new focus on inside space and how it’s used.

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Now a new survey from Smart Energy GB lifts the lid on how the ‘new normal’ has affected Scots living in rented accommodation.

Lockdown has seen domestic power bills rise for people spending much more time in their homes, causing many to look for ways to improve energy-efficiency
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One in three admits to feeling “stir crazy” after a year of the pandemic, with many wishing to change their domestic environment to improve the quality of their lives.

And with nearly half of Scottish renters reporting a rise in energy bills over lockdown, there is a keen interest in making homes more sustainable.

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But the study shows a third of renters are too afraid to ask their landlord about household improvements in case they get evicted or lose their security deposit.

As well as wanting to redecorate to spruce up interiors, lots of tenants have become more aware of their environmental impact and feel motivated to reduce their carbon footprint.

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The poll shows nearly four in ten in Scotland say they have bought new furniture, while a similar number have hung new decorations over the past year.

Meanwhile, around one in six Scottish renters have improved the energy-efficiency of their home to some extent – including simple measures such as turning off lights when leaving a room.

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More than a third have become more aware of energy usage during lockdown.

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Many tenants have reported benefits of smart meters, which allow customers to track and alter power usage.

However, half of those who responded to the survey said they didn’t realise they are entitled to request one from their energy supplier if they are the bill-payer.

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Most said they believed the responsibility to book an installation lay with landlords.

According to Smart Energy GB, smart meters make life easier instantly, through automatic billing and greater visibility of energy use.

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This in turn can help save money and eases the headache of splitting bills in shared households.

Robert Cheesewright, director at Smart Energy GB, said: “After the year we’ve had it’s no surprise that renters are doing all they can to improve their home environments, and it’s great to see that energy-efficiency and sustainability are a big part of that.

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“Smart meters help households to keep an eye on home energy use and are an essential part of Britain’s commitment to reaching net-zero.

“If you’re renting and you or your housemates pay the energy bill, it is your right to request one from your energy supplier.”

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