Living costs have risen sharply this year, placing a huge strain on household finances, with energy bills often now double the amount they were this time last year. Although the Government is providing some support to help those struggling to make ends meet, homeowners may be able to reduce heating costs by saving energy wherever possible.
How energy efficient is your home?When deciding which energy efficient improvements to make in your home, a good starting point is to find out your property’s energy efficiency rating. You can do this by checking your home’s energy performance certificate (EPC). EPCs were introduced in 2007 and are valid for 10 years from the date of issue, so if you bought your home within the last decade, you should have access to one. If you’re not sure what the EPC rating on your property is, you can search the EPC register if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. If you live in Scotland, you can search on the Scottish EPC register.
Ratings range from A-G, with A the highest and G the lowest. The higher an EPC rating a property has, the more environmentally friendly it is and the lower the heating bills should be, so it’s well worth taking this into consideration if you’re looking to buy a property. You can find out more about how EPCs work in our article What is an Energy Performance Certificate? Your certificate should show you which elements of your home are already energy efficient, and where you might be able to make improvements.
Top tips to improve energy efficiencyThere are several ways to make your property more energy efficient. Some of these will involve a bigger outlay than others, so it’s worth exploring whether you might be eligible for any grants to help cover costs. You can find out more about these at the Energy Saving Trust.
Insulating your homeMaking sure your home is well-insulated can have a significant impact on energy bills. Loft insulation is relatively easy to install, and involves fitting rolls of mineral wool insulation between joists. If you have cavity walls, you might want to consider cavity wall insulation, which involves holes being made in external walls and insulation material being injected into the space between your external and internal walls.
Whilst insulation can keep your home warm, be cautious about the use of spray foam insulation in your loft. This can seal moisture in which may lead to structural damage over the long term, and some mortgage lenders are reluctant to offer mortgages on properties where spray foam has been used. Cavity wall insulation also carries a risk of damp, so it’s really important to use a provider who is accredited by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency. This means you’ll be provided with a guarantee to protect you from any damage resulting from your cavity wall insulation.
Fit energy saving lightbulbsAccording to the Energy Saving Trust, using energy efficient LED lightbulbs could save you up to £7 per bulb per year in energy costs if you’re replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb, or up to £10 per bulb per year if you’re replacing 75 watt incandescent bulbs.
Stop draughtsHeat escaping your home is money wasted, so get yourself kitted out and keep the heat in. Draught excluder packs are available from most DIY stores, or you can get it done professionally. According to the Energy Saving Trust, getting gaps and cracks in windows, doors, floors and skirting boards professionally filled can cost around £225, but could save you around £125 a year on your energy bills.
There are several other energy-saving measures you might want to consider which won’t cost you a penny. For example, turning your thermostat down by just 1 degree centigrade could save you up to 10% on your energy bill according to the Energy Saving Trust. Always turning electrical appliances such as televisions off rather than leaving them on standby can also help reduce your energy bills, as can using your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures.