With the rising costs of energy bills, there’s never been a better time to look at how energy efficient your home is. Many of the UK’s homes are inefficient to heat, leading to a big carbon footprint and high energy bills.
By just making a few small home improvements, you could see an immediate decrease in your energy bills, and the best part is that many of these changes are easier than you might expect.
In this blog post we’ll look at a whole host of tips and tricks on how you can make your home more energy efficient today.
First thing’s first, how energy efficient is your home, and what’s the best way to find out?
The best way to find out how energy efficient your home is, and what improvements could be made, is to look at your property’s EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). This will give you an overall rating for your home and tell you how much it uses and wastes energy, and it can be found on the government’s EPC Register, with each certificate being valid for 10 years.
If your EPC has expired, or you’ve made changes to your home since it was done, then it may no longer give an accurate picture of how energy efficient your home is, so it’s worth getting a new one.
It’s important that you get an EPC for any property you’re considering buying, as it will give you an idea of how much the heating, hot water and lighting will cost over a year – and whether it’s worth making improvements before you buy. If a property has a low EPC score (below band D), it could be worth paying for improvements before moving in.
So once you’ve determined how energy efficient your property is, let’s explore the ‘fabric first’ principle in cutting energy consumption. This means making improvements to the fabric of your home, i.e. the floors, roof, walls and windows, and it’s widely acknowledged that this is the best place to start:
- Floor insulation
When looking at insulation, one of the best places to start is the floor. If you live in an old property, particularly one with wooden floorboards, then you could be losing a lot of heat. Insulating the ground floor is a great way to keep your property warm, heating costs down and better your energy efficiency. Between 10-20% of lost heat goes through the ground floor of your home, however remember this isn’t usually necessary for upper floors.
In order to sort the right insulation for your floor, you need to know what type of floors you have in the first place. For example, if they’re floorboards they’re likely to be suspended above a void space and they can be insulated using rigid boards, mineral wool or spray foam insulation.
On the other hand, you could have solid floors which are generally concrete or stone, and these would require a layer of rigid insulation on top. Furthermore, you could have a mixture of floors which would mean you require different floor insulation throughout.
- Wall insulation
Did you know that uninsulated homes may lose more than a third of their heat through the walls? This depends on your type of property, for example a mid-terraced house or flat doesn’t have as many external walls as a detached house, so will experience less heat loss.
Similarly to your floors, you’ll need to know how your walls are built and check what type they are before investing in any insulation. You may be able to tell the type of wall type depending on how old your property is, for example the majority of homes that are more than 100 years old have solid stone or brick walls, whereas properties built after 1920 may have cavity walls which have an air gap in between two walls.
Additionally, new-build homes built after 1990 usually have insulated cavity walls, and generally these shouldn’t need to be upgraded.
There’s a whole variety of different options so make sure to do your research before you decide which wall insulation is best for your property.
- Roof or loft insulation
Similar to how heat can be lost through the bottom of your house, the top is also an area which needs to be addressed. Insulating your roof or loft can be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your energy efficiency. Bungalows and large detached properties in particular can lose a large proportion of their heat through the roof, and most homes can benefit from a minimum of 270mm loft insulation.
There’s a number of factors to consider before choosing which roof or loft insulation you go for, including firstly what type of roof you have, as this will determine the type of insulation that will be best suited for you.
The cost of insulating a loft will vary depending on the materials used and whether you do it yourself or hire a professional insulation specialist.
For example if you’re planning on using a loft insulation roll made out of sheep’s wool, these can cost as little as £20 or so for a roll which will cover approximately 8 square metres. Whereas a professional may charge approximately £300-400 depending on the cost of materials and size of the loft.
- Updating your windows
If your property has single glazed windows, then updating these with more energy-efficient windows will not only make your home warmer by stopping as much heat from escaping, but you’ll also benefit from it being quieter too.
Double glazing is a great way to reduce your energy bills, and although you may be reluctant to pay for it in the first instance, especially if you’ve got a big house with lots of windows, over your lifetime your double glazed windows could easily save you thousands on your heating bills.
When it comes to draught-proofing your windows, there’s a few different options to choose from:
- Double glazing – made up of two panes of glass with a sealed gap between them, filled with air or an inert gas
- Triple glazing – three panes of glass with two gaps, which can be more effective than double glazing
- Secondary glazing – this is an option that’s added to existing windows to improve heat retention rather than a replacement, and it’s a good choice if you live in a rented property where you’re not permitted to replace the windows
Find out how to choose the best type of double-glazed windows and doors for your home.
- Make sure your appliances are E-marked
You may be surprised at how much energy each of your household electrical appliances use, and in addition to being more mindful of these and trying to cut back using them as much where possible, you can also make sure all of your appliances are E-marked which means they meet strict standards for safety and efficiency.
Check the packaging and labels of your appliances, or if you’re still not sure you can speak with the manufacturer or retailer who you got it from. If an Eco Mark logo is shown on your washing machine, fridge, or freezer for example, then you can rest assured know that this appliance is energy efficient.
- Check you’re not wasting electricity when it’s not needed
Most of us will recall our parents tirelessly telling us to turn the lights off when we left a room as children, but it’s only as you become a bill paying adult yourself that this really resonates, especially with the current high energy costs we’re experiencing.
It may seem obvious, but always try to remember to turn lights off when you leave a room, and furthermore, check your heating controls are set correctly so that you’re not heating up empty rooms unnecessarily. An easy way to get round this without fiddling with your heating settings is to simply turn the radiators right down in rooms that you don’t frequent as much.
- Add a hot water cylinder and pipe insulation
A really easy way to cut down on energy consumption and save energy on your bills is to insulate your water tank, pipes and radiators. Lagging water tanks and pipes and insulating behind radiators reduces the amount of heat lost, which means you spend less money heating water up plus the hot water stays hotter for longer.
If your hot water tank isn’t already insulated, then a hot water cylinder will do just the trick, whilst pipe insulation consists of a foam tube that covers the exposed pipes between your water cylinder and boiler to reduce the heat lost.
There’s a few different factors to consider when choosing the best options for your house, so make sure to do your research first or speak to a professional if you’re still insure
- Energy efficient lighting
We’ve already talked about turning lights off when they’re not being used, but another way to save on lighting is to make sure you’re using energy efficient light bulbs.
Did you know that traditional light bulbs were invented more than 100 years ago and only about 5% of the electricity they use converts into visible light? This makes them extremely inefficient! However, if you were to swap all of your bulbs for energy efficient LED lights, this could save you up to £65 on your electricity bills per year.
Furthermore, if you replaced all of your bulbs with LED lights you could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40kg in a year, which is the equivalent to the carbon dioxide emitted by driving your car around for approximately 145 miles!
So with all of this information under your belt, we hope we’ve given you some handy tips on how to cut down on your energy consumption and reduce your bills.