An energy-efficient home means cheaper energy bills; learn where to start with low-energy lightbulbs and home energy assessments.
Heating many of the homes in the UK is inefficient, which results in high energy bills and a significant amount of carbon impact. Our homes are among the oldest and least well insulated that can be found anywhere in Europe. According to the findings of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), only one third of homes that are occupied by their owners earn the highest possible A-C ratings for efficiency.
More than half of the homes that are currently in EPC bands D-G have the potential to earn a band C rating, which is why the government is urging homeowners to raise their EPC rating to band C by the year 2035. But enhancing the energy efficiency of your home is beneficial for more reasons than just adhering to recommendations made by the government or working to preserve the environment; the most obvious advantage is that it will result in a reduction in the amount of money you spend on your monthly energy bills.
How efficient is your home when it comes to using energy?
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much energy your home consumes and how to save costs while simultaneously increasing efficiency. If your property already has an Energy Performance Certificate, using it will assist you in determining which potential upgrades are worth pursuing. If your home has been put up for sale or rented after 2008, there is a good chance that it has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
Find your EPC
You can find any current or expired EPC for a home in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland on the government’s EPC Register or, in Scotland, on the Scottish EPC Register that is run by the Energy Saving Trust. Alternatively, you can find an EPC for a home in Scotland on the Scottish EPC Register that is run by the Energy Saving Trust. On either of these websites, you may also get a list of trained domestic energy assessors in your area.
After EPCs are only valid for a period of 10 years, it is possible that it has already expired. Furthermore, if you have made any modifications to your property since the time of the EPC assessment, it is possible that it is no longer correct. If the energy performance certificate (EPC) for your home is out of date, you can get a new one for somewhere between sixty and one hundred pounds (GBP), depending on the size and location of your property.
Find an assessor who can perform a home energy audit for you if you want a report that is more in-depth. It may involve thermal imaging in addition to one-on-one guidance and a detailed plan to assist you with upgrading your home; however, the cost of this service will be higher.
What kinds of information are contained on an EPC?
The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) provides a rating for your home that ranges from A (the most efficient) to G (the least efficient) (least efficient). Additionally, it provides a list of ways in which you might increase the rating, together with suggested expenses for each method. More information on what you can learn from your EPC may be found on the website that is endorsed by the government and called Simple Energy Advice.
Installing external wall insulation or solar panels may be on the list of recommended upgrades, but so may making a simple adjustment like upgrading to energy-efficient lighting. The EPC lays forth the order in which the suggestions should be implemented in order to maximise their impact.
Checklist for a home energy assessment
An EPC or other expert assessment isn’t necessary to conduct a simple home energy audit. Make a list of what you find in each room as you go.
Check the insulation in the attic, on the exterior walls, and on the ground level, if they are accessible. The hot water tank and pipelines should be insulated, so look for it.
Draught-proofing: Look for gaps and draughts around doors, windows, and other openings. Keep in mind the loft hatch, letterbox and keyholes when preparing your home.
Keep an eye on your heating systems to make sure they are running properly and that thermostats and timers are adjusted correctly.
Inspect ovens, extractor hoods, and exterior lights for LED bulbs to ensure they are all energy efficient.
“Fabric first” principle: reducing energy consumption
Uninsulated spaces quickly lose the warmth generated by your heating system and the energy it consumes. If you take care of them first, your house will be substantially warmer, your costs will be reduced, and your EPC score will go up. For those who want to lower their energy consumption, the first step should be to improve your home’s fabric, which includes the walls, floors and roof. The following are the primary methods in which you might improve:
Insulate the walls.
More than a third of the heat in an uninsulated house is lost through the walls. Detached homes lose heat through their outside walls because they are open to the elements, whereas mid-terraced homes and apartments have fewer external walls and as a result lose less heat.
Make sure you know what kind of walls you have. In order to properly insulate your home, you must understand the construction of your walls. The type of wall construction can be determined by the age of your home. The majority of residences built more than a century ago have strong brick or stone walls. There are options for both internal and external solid wall insulation.
Most houses built after 1920 have cavity walls, which are made up of two walls connected by an air gap (hence the name “cavity”). No less than 50mm of cavity width is required for the installation of insulation. Cavity walls in modern homes built after 1990 are typically insulated, and don’t need to be improved upon. In this article, you’ll learn more about the pros and cons of installing solid wall and cavity insulation. An expert insulation installation may be needed if your home has an aluminium or steel frame, or if it’s a prefabricated concrete structure.
Add a layer of floor insulation.
As much as 15% of your home’s heat is lost via the ground level, so if you can, insulate it. If you have a room above a garage or other unheated area, insulation may be advantageous. Upper levels don’t generally require it.
The type of floor you have is important. As with walls, you need to know what kind of floors you have in order to select the appropriate insulation. The floorboards of a suspended floor rest on joists suspended above a void space. Rigid boards, mineral wool, or spray foam insulation can all be used to insulate these structures. Stone or concrete are the most common materials used to build solid floors. Rigid insulation is an option on top.
Add insulation to the roof and the loft.
Insuring your attic or roof is one of the most cost-effective methods of increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Insulation in the attic of large detached houses and bungalows is critical to reducing heat loss, but most buildings will be better off with at least 270mm of loft insulation. Your roof is made of what? In order to insulate a typical roof, there are a number of alternative options.
Cold roofs can be insulated at joist level, which is commonly referred to as loft insulation, while warm roofs can be insulated at rafter level. Spray foam applications, stiff boards, and insulation rolls are all options.
A heated deck, cold deck, or inverted roof can be installed on a flat roof. Installing insulation in your roof might save you money and time.
4. Make improvements to your windows and doors.
Your home will be cosier and more peaceful after you replace any single-glazed windows with windows that have a higher rating for energy efficiency. There are some homes that cannot have replacement windows installed, but there are alternative choices available. The most popular kind is called double glazing, and it consists of two panes of glass separated by a gap that is either filled with air or an inert gas and then sealed.
Triple glazing, which consists of three separate panes of glass separated by two air gaps, is an alternative to double glazing that has the potential to be more energy efficient. Secondary glazing is not a substitute for windows; rather, it is an addition that is made to windows that are already in place. In situations where it is not allowed to replace the windows, such as in rented residences, listed structures, and homes located in conservation areas, this may be an excellent option.
5. Install insulation on the hot water cylinder and the pipes
However hard your boiler works to heat water for your faucets and radiators, a significant portion of that heat may be lost if the water tank and distribution pipes are not adequately insulated. Insulating your hot water tank is not only incredibly simple to carry out but also has a good chance of paying for itself in a single year. Fit a cylinder jacket. Be sure that it is at least 80 millimetres (3 inches) thick, as they are easy to install and inexpensive to purchase. Use foam tube that can be purchased anywhere to insulate any and all hot water lines that are easily accessible. Install reflective panels behind radiators to prevent heat from escaping through the walls into the surrounding space. They are especially useful for radiators installed on solid walls that are not insulated.
6. Protection against draughts
Even while controlled ventilation is necessary to avoid dampness and condensation, heat and energy are wasted whenever draughts are allowed to circulate unchecked. Using off-the-shelf solutions to seal around doors and windows is an easy way to perform do-it-yourself draught proofing, and ready-made items are also available to draught proof keyholes and letterboxes.
7. Energy efficient lighting
Although lighting may seem a minor part of your home’s energy use, it is part of the EPC assessment. Swapping old light bulbs for low-energy LEDs can even improve your EPC rating. LED bulbs are more expensive to buy, but they use around 90 percent less energy and can last up to fifteen times as long. Read all about LED lights and discover our best buy light bulbs.
8. Use low-carbon heating
A whole new heating system isn’t possible for everyone, so it’s worth getting through the points above this one before you consider an upgrade. But if your home is very well insulated, and if you’re in a position to do so, it’s time to think about the way it is heated.
A well-insulated home will have a lower heat demand than a poorly insulated one. When you replace or upgrade your heating system, it should be sized to suit that reduced heat demand.
system with a lower heat output is likely to cost less to buy and install and the ongoing running costs – your energy bills – will also be lower. A good heating engineer should be able to calculate the right size boiler to meet your hot water and heating needs.
Energy-efficient fossil-fuel heating
Although gas and oil boilers will be phased out in due course, they may still be the best choice for you right now. To keep carbon emissions as low as possible, find out which boilers are the most efficient and find out how to use heating controls and thermostats most effectively.
Making the switch to a system with lower carbon emissions
There is a good chance that new kinds of heating systems will become available some time in the next decade or so. We can anticipate the development of additional technologies that use electricity to generate heat, and these are likely to appear alongside heat pumps that draw their heat from the ground or the air. This is a source of energy that emits a decreasing amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as more electricity is produced by renewable sources such as wind and sun. 7. Lighting that is more efficient with energy
Even though it may seem like an insignificant portion of your home’s overall energy consumption, the lighting will be evaluated as part of the EPC. Increasing your EPC rating can even be as simple as replacing old light bulbs with more energy-efficient LEDs. LED bulbs have a higher initial cost but have a lifespan that is up to fifteen times longer than traditional bulbs and use only a fraction of the amount of energy. Learn everything there is to know about LED lights and find out which light bulbs are our top picks.
8. Heat your home with a source with low carbon emissions
It is not possible for everyone to purchase an entirely new heating system, so it is important to work through the points that came before this one before you think about upgrading. However, if your house has excellent insulation and you are in a position to change the way it is heated, now is the time to do so.
A home with adequate insulation will have a lower demand for heating than one with inadequate insulation. When you replace or upgrade your heating system, it should have a capacity that is appropriate for the lower amount of heat that is required.
It is more likely that a system with a lower heat output will cost less to buy and install, and the system’s ongoing operating costs, which are measured in the form of your energy bills, will also be lower. An experienced heating engineer should be able to determine what size boiler you require to meet your requirements for both heating and hot water.
Heating that is efficient in its use of fossil fuels
Even though oil and gas boilers will become obsolete at some point in the future, you might find that gas or oil boilers are the best option for you right now. Find out which boilers are the most energy-efficient and how to make the most of your heating controls and thermostats so that you can reduce your carbon footprint to the greatest extent possible.
Making the switch to a system with lower carbon emissions
There is a good chance that new kinds of heating systems will become available some time in the next decade or so. We can anticipate the development of additional technologies that use electricity to generate heat, and these are likely to appear alongside heat pumps that draw their heat from the ground or the air. This is a source of energy that emits a decreasing amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as more electricity is produced by renewable sources such as wind and sun.