How can I make my home more energy efficient?

New research has shown that 59% of homebuyers are willing to pay extra for a home that runs primarily off renewable energy, and 32% of buyers consider a home’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to be more important than it was a year ago.

Amidst soaring energy costs, this highlights that a home’s energy efficiency is becoming increasingly essential in purchasing and selling homes. Even if you aren’t planning to move homes, at the very least, you will reduce your overall energy bill by energy-proofing your home.

However, with the amount of information available on the topic, it can be challenging to know what changes will bring you the most value for your money.

You can make a few small changes to your home that will – perhaps surprisingly – make a big difference, or if you want to compound these effects, even more, you can adopt more substantial measures. In this article, we’ll explain the ten best ways to make your home more energy efficient.

Ten ways to make your home more energy efficient

Small changes can go a long way, such as turning the heating down, installing LED light bulbs, and insulating your pipes, tanks, and radiators. You can also take more drastic measures, such as installing a low-carbon heating system, upgrading your boiler, and insulating the walls of your home.

Regardless of your budget and the options you choose, this article will cover the best options to make your home more energy efficient. Let’s dive right in.

1. Turn the heating down

One of the first things you can do to save energy is to use your home’s central heating system sparingly. If energy efficiency is your goal, this will save you a lot of money each year – particularly these days with constantly increasing energy bills and costs. Opt to wear a sweater or hoodie instead of turning on the heaters at every opportunity.

Of course, British weather can be unforgiving. It’s often cold and windy, even in the summer months. So, if you still find that the temperature in your home is too low, turn the heating on but set the temperature at a few degrees lower than you normally would.

This slight change will significantly increase your home’s energy efficiency and will save money in the long run.

2. Upgrade your boiler

Building on the last point, your boiler itself could be a major factor in how high your energy costs are. Since everyone needs to heat their home, it is one of the highest expenditures you’ll have, and it could be made worse by the boiler you have installed. Most old boilers aren’t energy efficient at all, especially old ones that are 15+ years old.

These days, technology has advanced to the point where you can get A-rated boilers on an energy efficiency scale. They use considerably less energy, and upgrading to one of these newer models could save you much as £540 per year.

Sure, the cost of replacing your boiler will be expensive. Still, the money you save on energy consumption yearly will outweigh the costs within a few years. However, suppose this is not a financially feasible option. In that case, there are ways to ensure your existing boiler runs as efficiently as possible.

It’s important to get your boiler serviced regularly. Just like a car needs an MOT, your boiler needs a check-up to ensure it’s running smoothly. This will help you detect any issues early and get ahead to address them before they snowball into a bigger problem.

You should also bleed your radiators if you find they take too long to heat up or have cold spots. Another thing you can do is to increase the pressure. Low pressure is sub-optimal for efficient energy usage and will require your boiler to work harder to heat your home.

3. Add external wall insulation

Homes that have poor insulation are expected to pay £1,000 more in energy costs this winter compared to if they were well-insulated. This is because poorly insulated homes lose about a third of their heat through the walls, which is counterproductive if saving energy is the primary objective.

You can avoid this by adding external wall insulation. This means adding a layer of insulating material and covering it with special cladding or plaster to all walls that are exposed to the elements. Detached homes will have to add this to the entire building, but semi-detached homes can get away with insulating just half of the building.

This extra layer of insulation has multiple benefits. Of course, it will make your home energy efficient, but it will also improve its condensation, sound resistance, and upgrade the weather-proofing abilities of your walls.

Typically, you will need planning permission to undertake this work, so you mustn’t begin without getting authorised to do so first. But, once this has been obtained and the work is finished, you will have a more robust home with a lower carbon footprint.

4. Install LED light bulb in your house

Lighting is an often overlooked aspect when it comes to energy-proofing your home. It can seem insignificant, but swapping out your old light bulbs for LED ones greatly impacts your energy costs at the end of the year.

LED light bulbs are 90% more energy efficient than their incandescent counterparts and can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 65kg a year. To put that into perspective, that’s about as much as your car emits on a 220-mile drive.

LED bulbs will cost more than the regular alternatives. Still, when you factor in the money you will save on your energy bill, they more than pay for themselves.

5. Switch to energy-efficient windows and doors

It’s common knowledge that double-glazing your windows will be more energy efficient than single-glazed windows. They trap more heat and will therefore keep your house warmer. As a bonus, you will also block out more outside noise, making your home more peaceful.

However, it’s not your only option if you want more energy-efficient windows. You can also choose to triple or secondary glaze them.

Triple-glazing works like double-glazing, except there are three glass panes instead of two. This creates two pockets of air between them, resulting in better heat retention. Whilst it’s better than double-glazing your windows, it will come at a higher cost.

Double or triple-glazing are the most common options for homeowners as they will provide the most value for money. The problem with these options is that they are permanent solutions requiring you to completely replace your windows, which you can’t do without your landlord’s approval if you rent a home. In such a scenario, you can opt for secondary glazing.

Secondary-glazing involves installing an independent internal window on the inside of your window. The benefits of this are that it is completely removable without affecting your existing window and is perfect as a temporary solution.

If your windows are single-glazed, it will have the effect of double-glazing them. If you have double-glazed windows, it will mimic the effects of having triple-glazed windows.

6. Ensure your pipes, tanks, and radiators are insulated

It’s all well and good to turn down the thermostat or upgrade your boiler to an energy-efficient one, but if heat is lost on the way to the radiators, all that effort will be in vain – your boiler will simply have to work harder to warm up your home.

That’s why insulating your pipes, tanks, and radiators can be beneficial if you want to lower your energy costs.

You can fit a hot water cylinder jacket for your tank, which only costs around £20. To insulate your pipes, you can wrap them in a foam tube from your local hardware store. You can install reflective panels behind your radiators to reflect heat into the room instead of out through the walls.

Not only are these cost-effective to do, but they significantly influence how well your home stays warm.

7. Install solar panels

Over the last decade, we have seen a huge increase in the number of homes with solar panels installed. This is partly due to homeowners becoming more environmentally conscious and taking steps towards utilising renewable energy in their daily lives, but also due to government schemes that subsidise the cost of installing solar panels.

If you’re looking to install solar panels, you will have to fork out quite a bit of money – even if you install it through government schemes. It can cost somewhere between £2,500 and £9,000 depending on which company you opt to go for. Although it is pricey, it is also one of the most impactful things you can implement into your home to improve its energy efficiency.

You can expect to save up to £500 in the first year and a further 5% return over a 25-year lifespan of use. Moreover, suppose you produce excess energy that your home is not utilising. In that case, you can sell it back into the National Grid to recoup some of the money you spent on installation.

8. Insulate the floors of your home

Insulating your floors is also a great way to lower your home’s carbon emissions.

Much like with your walls, a large amount of heat is lost through the floors of your home. This doesn’t quite apply to the upper floors such as bedrooms – unless they are above an unheated space like a garage – but it is more relevant for the ground floor.

If your home is made from a solid material such as concrete or stone, you must add a layer of insulation across the top. Similarly, you can insulate tiled floors whereby thermal insulating boards will be installed below the tiles to prevent heat from escaping.

On the other hand, suspended floors, such as those made up of floorboards, can be insulated using mineral wool, rigid boards, or spray foam insulation.

9. Add a roof and loft insulation

On the same token, your roof and loft are areas of the building where plenty of heat can escape.

Compared to the other insulation options mentioned in this article, roof and loft insulation is one of the most cost-effective methods to add extra insulation to your home. It’s also one of the easiest ones to do, making it a popular choice amongst homeowners.

The bigger the property, the more heat you will lose and the more insulation will be required. But, as a general rule of thumb, 27cm of insulation will result in a noticeable benefit in how warm your house stays and a reduction in your energy bills.

10. Install a low-carbon heating system

This option is a bit more drastic than the others on this list as it will require you to install a new heating system in your home. But if you have exhausted the other options and want to increase your home’s EPC rating even more, this may be the solution.

Since your home will be using less energy than before, your heating system should reflect the new demands of the property. This is where you can install a low-carbon heating system such as ground or air source heat pumps.

Heat pump technologies are prevalent in Sweden and Norway and are slowly making their way across to the UK. As in the name, heat pumps transfer heat from one place to another. For instance, your refrigerator is a heat pump that transfers heat from inside to outside.

Air source heat pumps use air to create heat, and ground source heat pumps extract heat from the ground. Whilst these options are not widespread just yet, we will certainly be seeing more of these over the coming few years.

How energy efficient is your home?

Before making any changes to your home, a good place to start is to know how energy efficient your home currently is. This will let you know where to focus your attention to reap the most benefits.

You can do this by identifying your home’s Energy Performance Certificate – every home one. If you are unsure about yours or your EPC has expired, you can get one for approximately £80.

What information is on an EPC?

Your home’s EPC will show its current energy efficiency rating and what it could be if optimised. Ratings range from G to A, with A being the most efficient energy rating. You will also receive information on how to improvise it, alongside potential costs.