Heating cost control in HMO’s

Heating cost control in HMO’s

by Readers Question

Guest Author

19:00 PM, 14th May 2014, About 10 years ago 175

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I would greatly welcome the advice of other members on how to effectively manage heating costs. I have 2 HMO properties and rents include; water, gas, electric and broadband. Heating cost control in HMO's

Over the past 12 months the electric and gas bills seem to have rocketed. I have checked and the tenants are not growing weed but I suspect that they are keeping the heating on 24/7 and opening a window when it gets too hot.

I know there are products for this out there but don’t have experience of how they work.

Are there tried and tested ways of controlling a reasonable temperature and locking down the thermostat or being able to monitor it remotely?


Mark Hartell


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18:38 PM, 3rd June 2014, About 10 years ago

Why am I not surprised that it's not a straight forward yes or no.

So it's on and the tenants are out? it's on at night? - I've obviously missed something here, I don't have my own heating on so why would a tenant expect to? Instead of all this paraphernalia with new systems and controls couldn't you put what you budget for on a key meter and let them get on with it - I have 9 in one house and it works fine - no one knew each other when they moved in but they all get on and no one gripes, it's in their contract, and I've not lost one to frost bite - yet. My 'self contained' tenants also work with timed (on me) and a key meter - my bills more than halved when I took them off 'uncontrolled' - and environmentally better as well I would think.

I didn't think so much could be written about this.

Steve Masters

18:46 PM, 3rd June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Harlequin Garden" at "03/06/2014 - 18:38":

Interesting. Has anyone else had experience with landlord paid budget on key meter with tenant paid top ups?

Nigel Fielden

21:48 PM, 4th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Having recently gutted and completely refitted one of our HMOs I thought about this a lot and built in the following:

1) all common area lighting is LED or CFL and on sensors. They are only irritating if the time delay is set too short.

2) I installed a heating control system called Heatmiser. Each tenant's room is its own heating zone and has a thermostat programmer. Thus each room only uses the heat they want and don't have to dump excess heat through the windows. The thermostat programmers in the common areas are set by me and locked. You can even log onto the system remotely and see actual and set temperatures for each room.

3) Solar thermal heating. In the summer this generates much of the hot water requirement and you can get paid per unit through the RHI incentive.

4) Insulation - solid wall insulation, lofts to 300mm etc - often overlooked.

All easy to do on a complete refurb but some of it also retrofittable.

Robert M

22:45 PM, 4th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Nigel Fielden" at "04/06/2014 - 21:48":

In relation to Heatmiser, although it allows each room user to control their own room temperature, (and you to view it online), it does not appear to actually prevent users from turning it up to maximum and opening the window, (or leaving it on full blast when they go away for the weekend, on holiday, out to work, etc), so how is this any better than a controllable radiator valve (TRV)?

Nigel Fielden

8:35 AM, 5th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "04/06/2014 - 22:45":

It's better because you can monitor what tenants are doing, speak to any who are abusing things and even override their settings if you want, all remotely. You can also tightly control the common areas which is where TRVs often get altered and then forgotten.

You could go easily go further and put cutout switches on the windows, but I decided that was a step too far for me.


8:46 AM, 5th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Doesn't this take 'control' a little too far - and how much time do you have to continually monitor each room and common area - I've little enough time as it is without monitoring my tenants room temps. Very big brother, and not far away from cctv, I notice no one has commented on having a key meter and an 'allowance', just launched into all this technology, when most properties have systems that are a number of years old and this is not an option. I've found that it's difficult enough to get a house of 'professionals' (when did everyone become a 'professional'?) to pick up a wet bath mat never mind respond to a request about how warm their room is and how much contact do you want with tenants? The best tenants are those I never see or hear from and I'm pretty sure that this is their idea of a 'good landlord'.

Nigel Fielden

8:51 AM, 5th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Harlequin Garden" at "05/06/2014 - 08:46":

Up to each landlord of course as to what suits them. All I can tell you is that my costs are controlled and I have a very good rapport with my tenants.

Nigel Fielden

12:14 PM, 5th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Robert Mellors" at "04/06/2014 - 22:45":

Robert, realised afterwards that an important advantage of Heatmiser is that it controls time as well as temparature. So the heating of one tenant's room can be off during the day while he's at work, while another can be working shifts and have heat when he's in.

Ian Ringrose

13:37 PM, 5th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Nigel Fielden" at "04/06/2014 - 21:48":


I am about to do a complete refit to create a HMO and have come to much the same conclusions as you.

How have you found the Heatmiser thermostat programmers and witch version did you choose?

Are you using thermal activators or zone values?

Did you use a UFH manifold with “home runs” for all the radiators?

Did you consider using Hours Run Meters (e.g. Muller BW40.28 230/50) to record how much heat each room called for?

Have you had problem with the boiler cycling when only one room is calling for heat?

How did you do DWH?

(I am likely to do external wall insulation as well, as the property has fake stone cladding at present!)


13:38 PM, 5th June 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Nigel Fielden" at "05/06/2014 - 12:14":

and the tenant is going to remember to turn it off when he leaves for work ...... I have 54 tenants, all apparently high achievers, graduates, well paid (I'm in Central London so rents are high, hence multiple tenants in houses), it's as much as they can to, bless them, to remember to close the door on their way out. Do you turn the heating on and off when they are 'out' - and if so, how do you know when they are out?

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