Improving the energy efficiency of your home not only helps to conserve the world’s natural resources but also saves you money too. From quick wins to improve your efficiency in a flash to long-term projects that reap huge rewards, we’ve rounded up the five best ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
It costs thousands of pounds to heat a home, so why waste your money by letting the heat disappear through draughty doors and windows? One of the best (and easiest) ways to reduce energy loss is by properly insulating your home. Start at the top: if you have a loft, make sure it has been fitted with insulation and properly sealed. You can also use a draught excluder on your chimney, fill in cavity walls or install double glazing. There are cheap ways to insulate your home, too. Thick curtains will help to trap heat inside rather than let it disappear through the glass and hanging them over exterior doors can also protect from draughts. You can also purchase stick-on insulation to run down the sides of draughty doors and windows for a cost-effective way to keep the heat where you want it – in your home. Draught-free homes are comfortable at lower temperatures, so may also let you turn down your thermostat.
If you’re planning a big upgrade of your property, renewable sources are more accessible than ever. Instead of fossil fuel-reliant sources, consider installing solar panels or ground source heat pumps to provide power to your home. It’s a larger upfront outlay but will pay off in the long run as you begin to generate your own electricity. If that’s out of your price range, consider upgrading your old boiler to a new energy-efficient model, or speak to your energy provider about switching to a tariff that supports renewables and not fossil fuels.
We’ve all grown a little lax with our energy consumption around the home: our appliances are designed to be ready to go at the touch of a button, so many are left on standby. These are known as ‘energy vampires’, and even when turned off (or on standby) the appliance will still use energy. Those mobile phone chargers you leave plugged in? They’re still costing you money, even when not charging your phone. Simple changes to your behaviour can save energy – and hundreds of pounds a year. Boiling the kettle? Only boil what you need. Warming up outside? Remember to lower your thermostat. Throwing in a load of laundry? Wait until you’ve got a full load, as it means more clothes get washed in the same amount of water. Make sure you turn your machine down to 30 degrees too, as 90% of a washing machine’s energy is used to heat the water, with just 10% used for running the machine. Saving water is also a priority in a sustainable home: use a bowl for washing up and fit a water-efficient showerhead. The latter can save you up to £25 a year and makes no difference to the flow.
Tracking your energy usage is a great way to improve your home’s efficiency. By installing a programmable thermostat, you can not only see where you’re wasting money, but you can also control your heating and lighting when you’re on the move. Throughout your home, change your lightbulbs to energy-saving LED bulbs which are just as bright and use just 25% of the energy of standard bulbs, while lasting up to 25 times longer. If you’re replacing old or broken appliances, ensure that they cannot be repaired before recycling them at your local council recycling centre, rather than throwing them into landfill – many parts can be refurbished and used again. When buying new models, look for energy-efficient options – every electrical item must have an EU energy efficiency rating displayed on it, with A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient. If you’re buying a fridge freezer there are three additional ratings to choose from, A+, A++ and A+++. The most efficient appliances also carry an Energy Savings Trust Recommended Certification Mark, awarded to only the most efficient appliances.
One of the best ways to improve your energy efficiency is to track what you’re using – once you see the numbers in front of you, it can be a scary thought to consider how much energy (and money!) you’re wasting. Consider installing a smart meter to track your energy and gas usage, which will allow you to view in real-time what you’re using; they also remove the need for meter readings. So how do smart meters work? They measure your total energy consumption in the same way as a traditional meter, but they can also break down when you’re using this energy and how much it costs, so you can adjust it accordingly. You’ll be able to view this on an in-home display unit, which shows units of electricity as well as cost in pounds and pence. Every home and business in Great Britain is set to be offered a smart meter before the end of 2020, but there’s no reason why you can’t get a jump-start on things now.
For more examples of how to improve energy efficiency in your home, check out the ideas from the Energy Saving Trust.
We’re full of great ideas to help you improve your energy efficiency, whether you’re buying, selling or looking to make improvements. Take a look at more of our home improvement blog posts here.