How to make your home more energy efficient
6 Dec 2022
Many UK homes are currently inefficient. The escaping of heat within homes produces rising energy bills and a bigger carbon footprint.
A big factor is that many UK homes have inadequate insulation in place. According to EDF, just 58% of homes in England and Wales meet the insulation standards of 1976 or earlier. This makes it some of the worst insulated in Europe.
While the UK government is pushing homeowners to improve their energy efficiency to meet emissions targets, the biggest motivator for making your home more energy efficient is to stop the rise in energy bills.
List of energy efficient home improvements
There are various options and upgrades available for making your home more energy efficient. Upgrades include:
- New boiler
- Smart meter
- Double (or triple) glazing
- Draught proofing
- Energy efficient fittings
- Spray foam insulation
Below we look at each upgrade in more detail for what you need to do to improve home efficiency.
The older a boiler gets, the more heat it loses and is less efficient. Upgrading your current boiler to a new model is expensive but will be cheaper in the long run. Not only that, but you’ll be kinder to the environment as you cut your carbon dioxide emissions.
All boilers are rated for their efficiency on an Energy Performance Certificate using letters A-G. The most efficient boilers are rated A with the least getting a G rating. Replacing an old G-rated boiler with a modern A-rated boiler, with a full set of heating controls, makes your home more energy efficient and can save you hundreds of pounds on your gas bill.
Smart meters keep an accurate track of all energy used in your home. It displays when your energy was used and how much it will cost. Having a display that gives you accurate, real-time information on your energy use will help you manage it better. By cutting down on energy waste, you can make your home energy efficient while helping you save money over time.
If you have smart controls fitted, some models allow you to have greater control of your heating. This includes targeting certain areas of your house or adjusting timings and settings, through a mobile app, when you’re away from home.
The government wants smart meters rolled out as standard by 2024. The rollout of smart meters in homes has been happening for the last few years and your energy company has likely reached out to get one installed. While you’re not under any legal obligation to get one, having a smart meter installed will improve home efficiency.
Double (or triple) glazing
Replacing single-glazed windows with more energy-efficient glazing will make your home warmer, quieter and more efficient.
Double glazing is the most common type of window upgrade. These windows comprise two panes of glass with a sealed gap in between, filled with air or inert gas. As homeowners strive for greater energy efficiency, triple glazing is growing in popularity. Triple-glazed windows comprise three panes of glass with two gaps, improving their effectiveness in improving home efficiency.
For refurbishment projects, windows are an important consideration. Often upgraded to improve aesthetics, as well as energy efficiency, homeowners may opt for slimmer window frames and larger panes of glass. By selecting double or triple-glazed options, homeowners can achieve elegant designs without compromising energy efficiency.
If you’re unable to completely replace your existing windows, because you live in a rented property or listed building, secondary glazing could be an option. This glazing is added to existing windows to improve heat retention.
While most options on this list require professional installation, draught proofing is a DIY energy efficient home improvement. Uncontrolled draughts waste heat and energy. DIY draught proofing can be bought off-the-shelf in shops and is placed around doors and windows to stop heat from escaping. Ready-made products can also draught proof keyholes and letter boxes.
Energy efficient fittings
While you can draught proof the house yourself, you can also buy certain items for your home that are more energy efficient:
- Appliances - there are more energy efficient washing machines, freezers and kettles on the market than ever before
- Low flush toilets
- Low flow taps for bathroom and kitchen
- Water saving shower heads that restrict the volume of water while retaining the pressure sensation you’d expect
- Smart controls such as passive infrared sensors that detect motion or daylight sensors, automatically switch off lights when there’s no activity in the room
- LED lights and downlights are the most efficient bulbs available and will last 10 times as long.
Spray foam insulation
Alongside insulation techniques such as glazing and drought proofing, the biggest job is ensuring your loft, walls and floors are insulated properly.
Installing home insulation will bring the biggest benefits for making your home more efficient by retaining heat in your home. This will reduce the need for more heating to replace what is lost. A warmer, insulated home also reduces the possibility of damp later on. In cooler months, it will also help keep cool air out too.
While you may be aware of traditional insulation, open-cell spray foam insulation is a more beneficial type of insulation that makes homes more energy efficient. The spray liquid layer expands to over 100 times its original size when installed into ceilings, walls, floors and cavities. This flexibility allows the foam to flexibly secure every space to create a superior air barrier that reduces thermal loss through convection and conduction.
The vapour permeability of open-cell spray foam insulation stops moisture and other outside elements from getting into the property while stopping heat from escaping. This ability gives spray foam a superior R-value - the value that shows how good a material is at resisting the flow of heat - when compared to traditional insulation methods.
Spray foam insulation is an energy efficient upgrade that can only be done by an authorised installer to ensure it is properly installed. Huntsman Building Solutions has a network of qualified and trained installers across the UK who can complete the job within hours.