Energy efficiency is the gold standard for modern homes. At the core, it means consuming fewer non-renewable resources to service our homes. Rather than spending a lot of money to keep your home comfortable, there are plenty of measures that can be taken to reduce your energy consumption and pay less. What’s more, lower carbon emissions will help care for the planet, cutting down our reliance on planet polluting fossil fuels and saving wildlife habitats. What’s not to like?
Let’s take a look at some of the best strategies for making your home cosier and energy-efficient to live in.
Upgrade your heating
Did you know that your central heating boiler accounts for just over half of your energy bills? That’s more than all your other electrical appliances combined. An inefficient boiler not only costs more to run, it’s also an unnecessary source of excess carbon emissions. If your current central heating boiler is more than 10 years old, it may be time for an upgrade. Expect to save in the region of £200 per year on bills by replacing an old gas boiler with a new A-rated condensing boiler.
Had you thought of an alternative, greener heating option? If you want to make your home truly sustainable while getting away from energy price hikes you have no control over, looking at alternatives to gas boilers, such as ground source or air source heat pumps, is a smart idea.
And on the subject of heating, check your other appliances too. If you are planning on upgrading your heating, there are methods of ensuring that your fireplace is energy-efficient. Electric fireplaces are cost-effective, emission-free and easy to install as are the new kid on the block, bioethanol fireplaces.
Roof and wall insulation
Around a quarter of the heat in the home is lost through the roof, which makes loft insulation a very effective way to reduce heat loss and your heating bills. Topping up your existing loft insulation to the recommended depth of 250-270mm won’t cost a lot and can often be done by an experienced DIYer as a weekend project. Installed properly, loft insulation should last for 40 years, paying for itself many times during that time. You may even be able to qualify for a home energy grant from the UK Government.
Uninsulated walls account for around a third of heat loss in the home. The good news is that the cost of cavity wall insulation will pay for itself in less than five years as a result of lower energy bills from a properly insulated home. Solid wall insulation can have an even more dramatic impact simply because solid walls lose twice as much heat as cavity walls.
Draughtproof your windows
Insulating your windows and door is perhaps the most instantly rewarding way of making your home cosier, particularly during the winter months when draughty windows and doors are at their most noticeable and irritating. Investing in energy-efficient double-glazed windows can save you up to £160 per year in heating bills. You may also notice significant acoustic improvements since the new windows constitute a better sound barrier.
If window or door replacements are not an option, there are other ways you can stop heat from escaping. Secondary glazing is a popular alternative. While double-glazing has two window panes as standard, secondary glazing consists of an additional panel of glass that is fitted to the inside of the existing window. Basic secondary glazing is fairly cheap and can be a good temporary measure during colder periods. Permanent secondary glazing is typically recommended for listed buildings where the original windows are protected for their architectural or historical significance.
Generate your own solar power
Installing solar PV panels can be expensive but it’s one of the most effective energy-saving measures you can implement in your house. You will need a south or west-facing roof and a budget in the region of £3,000-£8,000 to allow for the panels and full installation in an average UK home, depending on the number of panels and size of your roof. A 3.5kW solar roof array in the South of England should return somewhere around £300 in the first year, with an approximate 5% rate of return of the 25-year lifetime of your installation.
Solar panels are an excellent investment, but you also get the huge benefit of free electricity consumption while it is being generated on your roof. And with solar battery storage systems now widely available, you can even store the electricity produced during sunshine hours for use at a later date and after dark. In this way, solar battery backup power can lower your energy costs even more.
Whatever the size of your budget for energy efficiency improvements in the home, don’t forget that there are plenty of little things you can do every day that will make a difference too. Don’t underestimate the daily impact of using an eco-kettle or a water-saving showerhead and thermally lined curtains for your windows.
Small tasks such as switching off the lights when you leave a room, turning down the central heating thermostat by a couple of degrees and bleeding your radiators once a year should all become regular habits that will translate into financial savings without much effort at all.