How to improve home energy efficiency (ranked from low to high cost)
The need to improve the energy efficiency of our homes is more important than ever. So we’ve ranked 12 top tips, from lowest to highest cost.
If you’re wondering how to improve the energy efficiency of your home, you might find it a little overwhelming to figure out where to begin. With so many ways to improve home energy efficiency, it can be tricky knowing which ways are worth your time and money.
To give you a helping hand, this article lists some of the best ways to improve home energy efficiency in cost order. We show the expected impact level too, in case there’s a tie.
How energy efficient is your home?
Before considering how to make your home more energy efficient, it’s helpful to know how efficient it already is. This way, you’ll be able to identify whether you need to consider making small or big improvements to your home.
To find out how energy efficient your home is, you can look at its EPC (energy performance certificate). This is a basic report that’s produced by an accredited domestic energy assessor after inspecting your home.
For a more in-depth report, which also estimates the cost and environmental benefits of various efficiency installations, you can sign up to Snugg for free.
1. Adjust the thermostat
Heating and cooling your home accounts for a significant portion of your energy usage, which means that adjusting your thermostat can be a simple and effective way to reduce your energy consumption and save money on your energy bills.
You can manually set your thermostat to a lower temperature when you're asleep or away from home, and then raise it again when you're awake and at home. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can automate this process by setting different temperature schedules for different times of day and days of the week.
Impact: Moderate to high.
2. Schedule the boiler
Heating your home and hot water with a boiler can be one of the biggest contributors to your energy usage and bills, which is why scheduling your boiler can help you save energy and reduce your heating costs. By setting a schedule for your boiler to operate during off-peak hours or when demand is low, you can ensure that your boiler is operating at maximum efficiency and minimize the amount of energy it uses.
To schedule your boiler, you can use its timer function without the need for a separate programmable thermostat.
Impact: Moderate to high.
3. Reduce the boiler’s flow temperature
When you consider how to improve the energy efficiency of your home, you probably won’t think about your boiler’s flow temperature. What even is it, anyway? Simply, it’s the temperature at which it heats up water before sending it to the radiators in your home.
Reducing the temperature of the water circulating through your heating system can be an effective way to save energy and reduce your heating costs. Most boilers are set to circulate water at a default temperature of around 70-80°C, but lowering this temperature to around 60°C can help reduce energy consumption and still provide sufficient warmth for your home.
Lowering a boiler’s flow temperature can save the average household around £112 per year, according to Nesta. You can participate in Nesta’s Money Saving Boiler Challenge and lower your boiler’s flow temperature right now!
4. Switch to LED bulbs
LED bulbs, or light-emitting diodes, are a type of energy-efficient lighting that are quickly becoming the most popular choice for home lighting. Compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy and can last up to 25 times longer.
When replacing your old bulbs with LED bulbs, check the wattage and brightness levels to make sure you get the right bulb for your needs. You may also want to consider investing in smart bulbs that can be controlled via a smartphone app or smart speaker, which can help you further reduce your energy usage and save money on your electricity bill.
Cost: Low, depending on the number of bulbs.
5. Dress your windows
Curtains, blinds and shades can play a key role in regulating heat loss and gain through your windows. During the winter months, properly selected window treatments can help to reduce heat loss and keep your home warm. In the summer, they can help to reduce heat gain and keep your home cool.
To maximise the energy-saving benefits of your window treatments, choose curtains, blinds or shades that are specifically designed to improve your home's insulation. For example, thick curtains with a thermal lining can help to reduce heat loss and improve your home's overall insulation.
Cost: Low to moderate, depending on materials and window sizes.
Impact: Low to moderate.
6. Draught-proof doors and windows
Draught-proofing your doors and windows is an important step in improving the energy efficiency of your home. Gaps and cracks around doors and windows can allow cold air to enter your home and warm air to escape, leading to increased energy usage and higher heating bills.
Draught-proofing your doors and windows is a relatively simple and affordable project that you can do yourself with a little bit of DIY experience. By sealing gaps and cracks around your doors and windows, you can improve the energy efficiency of your home, reduce your energy usage, and save money on your heating and cooling bills.
Cost: Low to moderate.
7. Install a smart thermostat
Smart thermostats use advanced sensors, machine learning algorithms and geofencing technology to learn your habits and preferences. They can use these techniques to automatically adjust the temperature of your home to optimise your comfort and energy usage.
When shopping for a smart thermostat, look for models that are compatible with your existing heating and cooling system and smart home devices.
Impact: Moderate to high.
8. Insulate the loft
Loft insulation is one of the best ways to improve home energy efficiency and reduce heat loss through your roof. A properly insulated loft can help to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, reducing your energy usage and saving you money on your heating and cooling bills.
Insulating your loft is also a relatively simple and affordable project that you can do yourself with a little bit of DIY experience. However, if you're not comfortable doing it yourself, you can hire a professional to do the job for you.
9. Use energy-efficient appliances
When it's time to replace your old appliances, choose energy-efficient models that can help you save money on your energy bills. Look for appliances with an Energy Efficiency Rating label that ranges from A+++ (most efficient) to G (least efficient).
Examples of energy-efficient appliances include refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers. These appliances are designed with energy-saving features, such as advanced insulation, smart sensors and low-energy settings, which can help reduce your energy usage and save money on your energy bills.
Cost: Moderate to high, depending on the appliance.
Impact: Moderate to high.
10. Insulate the walls
Wall insulation is another effective way to reduce heat transfer and improve the energy efficiency of your home. There are two main types of wall insulation: cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation.
Cavity wall insulation involves filling the space between the inner and outer walls of your home with insulation material, such as foam or mineral wool. Solid wall insulation, on the other hand, involves adding insulation to the exterior or interior walls of your home. This can be a more expensive and complex process than cavity wall insulation, but it can provide greater energy-saving benefits.
Cost: Moderate to high.
11. Double (or triple) glaze your windows
Upgrading to double or triple-glazed windows is one of the most effective ways to improve the insulation of your home.
Double-glazed windows consist of two panes of glass separated by an insulating layer of air or gas, while triple-glazed windows consist of three panes of glass with two insulating layers. By reducing the amount of heat that escapes through your windows, you can create a more comfortable and energy-efficient home, particularly during the colder months.
Double or triple glazing your windows is a significant investment, so it's important to consider your budget and consult with a professional before making any decisions. But double or triple-glazed windows can provide significant energy-saving benefits and improve the overall comfort of your home.
Cost: Moderate to high, depending on the number of windows and type of glazing.
12. Install solar panels or a heat pump
Installing solar panels or a heat pump can be a great way to generate renewable energy and heat your home. Solar panels generate electricity from the sun's energy, while heat pumps extract heat from the air or ground to provide heating and hot water for your home.
Solar panels and heat pumps are one of the most significant investments on this list, so it's important to consider your budget before making any decisions. However, solar panels and heat pumps can provide significant energy-saving benefits over time. And they can reduce your carbon footprint while providing a more sustainable source of energy for your home.
Bonus: Reduce the up-front cost with a home energy efficiency grant
If you’re not sure how to improve home energy efficiency on a limited budget, you might be able to get a grant to offset the up-front cost. These grants can cover part or all of the cost of solar panels, new boilers, heat pumps and more. Several home energy efficiency grants are available that help homeowners improve their homes' energy efficiency and reduce their energy bills.
Sign up to Snugg to get your free personalised energy efficiency plan and see which grants you might qualify for.
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