How to make your home more energy efficient
Last updated: 21/12/2021
Improving your property’s energy efficiency will make it cheaper to run, lessen its environmental impact, and could make it more attractive to potential buyers. In other words, it’s a win-win.
Here are some of the ways in which you can supercharge your home’s energy efficiency.
Insulation is always a good investment, and one of the most commonly recommended areas for improvement in EPC ratings. According to the Energy Saving Trust, loft insulation should set you back around £395 on average in a detached house. But it lasts for about 40 years. And it could save you as much as £250 annually on your energy bills, because – if your loft isn’t insulated – you lose about a quarter of your home’s heat through the roof.
If your home was built after 1920, it’s likely to have cavity walls. Cavity wall insulation could save you up to £255 a year on your bills. Older houses are likely to have solid walls, which, when insulated, could save you as much as £360 a year. Not bad at all!
Getting double glazing installed admittedly isn’t cheap, but should ultimately prove a good investment. Getting A-rated PVC windows for a semi-detached house is likely to set you back around £4,250.
With a saving of £75 a year on your bills, it will take a long time to recoup this. But there are other benefits. With an improved EPC rating, you could get a better price for your property when you sell. Not to mention your home will be noticeably warmer and quieter.
Reducing energy consumption in lighting your home is another common EPC recommendation, and one which involves no structural changes. Replacing incandescent lightbulbs with energy-saving bulbs is a cheap and cheerful way to be more energy efficient. This should save you up to £7 a year per 100W bulb. It’s also worth getting in the habit of switching them off when you’re not in the room.
More than half of the average household’s total energy bill is made up of heating and hot water. A few changes to your heating could make a big difference, and not cost the earth.
Replacing your gas boiler with a more efficient model costs around £2,500, but should be worth it in the long run. Alternatively, updating your boiler controls should mean you get your heating only when and where you need it.
Installing a smart thermostat will allow you to create different programs and timers, which can prevent you from wasting energy. You can program different temperatures for different types of day, for example. Or you could add heating zones, so that the parts of the house you’re using remain toasty warm, without the heating being on elsewhere. In addition, you can control these using voice assistants, or from your smartphone when you’re out of the house.
Draught-proofing is a cheap and easy way to prevent chills around the home, and could save the average semi-detached house around £25 a year. Rather than the old-fashioned fabric snakes in doorways, you can achieve this by using draught-proofing strips around doors, windows and loft hatches. Sealing skirting and floorboards with a silicone-based filler will also help stop heat escaping.
Energy suppliers have targets to fit smart meters in all homes by mid-2025, but why not get a head start? It’s usually free to have them installed and – while they don’t improve energy efficiency in and of themselves – they will highlight where you could cut your energy use. Having one will also mean your bill is accurate, and not based on estimates.
Installing solar panels will mean your whole house can be powered by clean, renewable energy. You can use solar thermal panels for heating your water, and PV panels for your electricity. This can also be stored in a battery for winter months with less sunlight. Plus any additional energy can be exported to the national power grid, with payment being made via the Smart Export Guarantee.
You can read more about this scheme on the Ofgem website.
While not everyone will want to go as far as having solar panels fitted, it’s clear that there are plenty of cheap and easy steps you can take to make your home more energy efficient.