10 ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home

Fancy saving a few quid on your heating bills? You’ll be surprised how simple it could be…

In fact, with just a couple of changes to your house, you could keep your home warmer for longer, reduce your carbon footprint and shrink your energy costs – you might even add some value to your property.

Best of all, it needn't cost you an arm and a leg. In fact, you could make a start today. Here’s 10 ideas to get you going…

Radiator
Step 1

Cavity wall insulation

Keep the warmth in and the cold out by installing cavity wall insulation.

This is a simple fix with long-lasting effects. You essentially fill in the gap between the outside and inside walls of your home with dense, insulating material.

Is it right for you? If your home was built after the 1920s, it will probably have cavity walls, meaning there will be a gap between the bricks on the outside and the plasterboard on the inside. Cavity walls are good at preventing damp but bad at retaining heat when they’re not properly insulated.

Cavity wall insulation is inexpensive and lasts a long time, so it pays itself back quickly. Which? estimates you could save up to £250 a year by insulating your cavity walls.

You may also be able to claim a grant for the insulation through your energy supplier under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

Step 2

Solid wall insulation

Do you own a home built before the 1920s? If so, it’ll probably have solid walls – but you can still insulate them.

Solid wall insulation goes on the outside of your home, covering up old bricks with attractive and colourful cladding.

It’s more expensive than insulating a cavity wall, but the savings make it worthwhile in the long run.

As with cavity wall insulation, you could look into getting a grant. You may also want to look into the government’s Green Deal, which helps you to make energy-saving improvements to your home and find the best way to pay for them.

Step 3

Loft insulation

Heat rises – so as well as lining your walls, you may also want to look at how much heat is escaping through your roof.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could be losing up to a quarter of your home’s heat if you haven’t insulated your loft. Which? estimates you could save up to £225 a year by installing loft insulation.

There are different kinds of loft insulation available depending on your home. You can also choose to install it yourself to save a little extra.

As with wall insulation, you may be able to help pay for your loft insulation through schemes such as ECO or the Green Deal.

Step 4

Solar panels

Even in cloudy Britain, you’ll be surprised how much you could save with solar panels.

And not only is powering your home with solar energy good for your monthly bills, it’s good for the environment too.

There are two types of panels:

  • Solar PV panels. These panels convert energy from the sun into energy for your home. They don’t need direct sunlight to work, so they’ll still charge on cloudy days.
  • Solar water heating. Instead of heating your home, these solar panels heat your hot water tank.

Although panels can be expensive to install, the energy they generate is free. And if you had an electric car, you could use the energy generated from the solar panels to charge your car at home too.

Better still, with solar panels, you could one day sell your excess energy. The government used to let homeowners do this with their ‘feed-in tariff (FIT)’, but that scheme finished in March 2019. However, they have proposed a new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) to ensure households won’t have to give away their spare energy for free – keep your ears open for more news.

Step 5

Ground source heat pumps

Here’s an idea you may not have considered: generating energy from the ground under your home.

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are buried in your garden and absorb heat from the ground.

They work by using fluid-filled loops that get warmed up by thermal energy underground. The fluid in the loops is pushed through a compressor that increases its temperature, while the earth keeps the pipes insulated.

This type of heating can lower your fuel bills, reduce your carbon footprint, and you could make money back for the energy you produce under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

Step 6

Double glazing

One of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your home warmer for longer is to double glaze your windows.

Many homes already have double glazing but if you have an older house this may not be the case for you.

As well as keeping the heat in, they have the added bonus of keeping noise out. Plus, double glazing helps to reduce drafts and prevent condensation.

Step 7

Draught insulation

A great first step, and you’ll notice how much cosier your home feels right away.

If you’ve felt draughts in your home, you may already know exactly where you need insulating. Not only will it help to keep warmth in, it will protect against damp and condensation too – so it’s good for your health as well as your heating bills.

You can install draught proofing yourself or get a professional to do it. Remember, even simple things like putting draught excluders under doors or blocking up old chimneys can have a big impact.

Step 8

Smart thermostats

A smart thermostat helps you save money by heating your home more intelligently.

It’ll learn the best way to keep you warm at home while using the minimum possible energy. The more you use it, the more efficient it will become.

Step 9

Boiler upgrade

Depending on how old your boiler is, it may be worth upgrading to a newer model that’s more efficient and reliable.

This could prove expensive, but a new boiler should make you significant savings in the long-term. Which? estimates you could save £652 a year on your energy bill by swapping your old-style boiler for a newer model.

Step 10

Energy-saving lighting

Finally, one of the quickest and simplest changes you can make that will make a huge difference to your energy bills is to replace all your home’s current lightbulbs with energy-saving lightbulbs.

Did you know that replacing just one 60W incandescent bulb could save you £7 a year? So, changing 10 will give you a chunky £70 annual saving.