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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Ian Ringrose

12:10 PM, 21st May 2014, About 10 years ago

Expecting people that don’t know each other that are renting on separate AST to divide a bill between themselves is just asking for problems.

Electric heating costs about 3 times as much to run as gas heating, gas also creates less CO2, so is clearly the most cost effect and environmental option for a normal home.

It is relatively cheap and easier for a landlord to meter how much electricity is used by each room. However there is a bit of pain in collecting the payment or selling cards to the tenants.

Also the electricity connections to the building will most likely need uprating if electric showers are used in every letting room, this is not cheap.

There seems to be no cost effect way at present to measure the heat usage in a single room on a gas CH system, yet alone be able to sell the tenants cards for a heat meter. (Hot water usage for showers is a bit easier to measure.)

Given the size of the HMO market, why has on one come out with a system to control the use of CH in a HMO, that allows charging to each tenant????

Steve Masters

12:48 PM, 21st May 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "21/05/2014 - 12:10":

One way the limit if not measure the heat to each HMO bedsit room is to have each room on it's own heating "zone" with it's own wall mounted thermostat in each room.
Of course the room thermostat would need to be one with a tamper resistant temp limiter. Who knows, some tenants may even use the wall stat to turn their heating down instead of opening a window (one can live in hope!)

I have just fitted the Landlord version of Inspire Home Automation room thermostat to control the temperature in one of my HMO houses. I have locked the menu and set the temperature to 21C. I can now control and monitor the central heating from my PC and even via a phone app! It remains to seen if it actually reduces the fuel bills.

I was also thinking of conducting a survey via perhaps Survey Monkey and asking the tenants in each HMO house whether they would prefer the heating on constant at a lower temperature or on higher but for limited periods of on high and constant for an extra £5 week.

Ian Ringrose

14:18 PM, 21st May 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve Masters" at "21/05/2014 - 12:48":

The last time I check none of these fancy WiFi enabled thermostats could even record how many minutes of heat they requested for the room over each month. If they could then putting each room on its own S Plan zone and dividing up the gas bill based on the “minutes of requested heat” would not be a bad solution.

The Honeywell “smart” TRVs would be a great solution if the central control box would log what heat they requested.

I have considered putting an Electronic Timers / Hour Meters, (e.g. Baumer IVO B148.002XC9C) on each zone in a S plan system. But this seems such a shame when all thermostats these days have CPUs that for want of a small software addition could record the information.

Steve Masters

15:18 PM, 21st May 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "21/05/2014 - 14:18":

The way I see it HMO regulations state that each tenant should be able to control their own heat and there should be enough heat to reach 21C in all habitable areas.

So the way I see it is that all habitable areas should be maintained at around 21C. For the central heating system this can be achieved with locking and limiting TRV valves in each room and a Locking and Limiting room thermostat in the coldest part of the house.

I don't have to provide any more heat than that and I doubt any measure will persuade tenants to use much less than that. The bill for around 21C should be factored into every tenants rent.

Then one just needs to find a solution for those pesky electric heaters that tenants have a habit of bringing into the house and leaving on.

Ian Ringrose

10:57 AM, 22nd May 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve Masters" at "21/05/2014 - 15:18":

I would rather have a system that heated each room to say 15c with the tenant having an option to turn it down, then a “boast” button in each room that heated to 21c for 2hrs when pressed.

(People like their rooms cooler when sleeping, but if you have anyone on sift work a single timer does not work.)

An interlock to a magnetic switch on the windows would be great, so the heating was turned off in a room when the window was opened. (But what if a tenant goes away leaving a window open when it is -5 outside? How do I stop the radiator freezing?)

Robert M

11:02 AM, 22nd May 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "22/05/2014 - 10:57":

What a great idea, surely someone somewhere could invent this?

Steve Masters

11:15 AM, 22nd May 2014, About 10 years ago

Room thermostats with Boost buttons exist.
TRV valves with open window detection exist, more commercial than domestic.
Frost stats exist.
To make them all work together the open window detection would need to be incorporated into the room stat/controller.

Does anyone know if such a product exists?


10:50 AM, 24th May 2014, About 10 years ago

We had our first HMO as 9 rooms with 'all inclusive' and after a year the bills just kept rocketing, heating on 24/7, lights, computers - TV on and no one in. I changed the meters to key meters and put on the amount I'd budgeted for the gas and electricity and anything over they topped up - I put on every month. At the start they didn't go over and was half of the bills when it was un regulated - however didn't work for the gas as they kept running out and the boiler would go out and we kept having to go over to turn it back on - so this was put back on the normal meter and I now do a set amount of hours of heating and hot water during the day and the controls are locked away - the tenants know when they take on the place that heating is not 24/7 and timed for 'workers' - some grizzle when the weather is cold, but I tell them I'm not in control of the weather and if they want to take on the bills be my guest, so far no takers. No control is out of control, tenants do not behave the same when they pay the bills - I have tenants who are in control of their own bills and they are just fantastically low!! they moan that the house is cold but when I see the bills you can see that they don't put the heating on.


10:56 AM, 24th May 2014, About 10 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Steve Masters" at "21/05/2014 - 15:18":

My HMO officer told me that there are no residential regulations regarding heating as long as I do not prevent them from supplying their own heat via a heater - as I've just posted ,I have my electricity on a key meter and heating timed and cannot be over ridden - they are welcome to plug in heaters and with the key they are in control of the bills - and they choose to put on a jumper, if I was paying they'd put on their shorts and flip flops and put on the heating - and open the window when it's too hot.

john kelly

22:25 PM, 27th May 2014, About 10 years ago

Hi folks here is how i manage my HMO's

- PIR sensors on all communal lighting - set on timers and daylight work v well
- Low energy bulbs throughout
- Hive remote heating - v easy to monitor and control
- I dont rent to DSS - working tenants only - never had a case of anyone touching the stat
- I cover stats with lockable covers
- Heating is on fr 7 - 9m and 4pm - 10pm
- GCH is off below 17c and during summer months
- Nothing is allowed to be charged without being in room - cleaner checks every two weeks
- W/M and tumble dryers are on coin slot timers

showers are a problem as some tend to take several a day for ages.....!

great post 'food for thought'

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