Maximising the energy efficiency of your home

Maximising the energy efficiency of your home

As the UK deals with rising food and energy prices, looking at how you use energy in and around your home could not only help you save money but also cut your carbon footprint, and even increase the value of your home.

Many of our daily activities produce dangerous greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Carbon dioxide (or CO2, often shortened to ‘carbon’) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, accounting for around 81% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. Our homes account for nearly a third of that carbon, through energy used for activities like heating, lighting, washing, and cooking.

EPC improvements increase a home’s value

A Rightmove study* of 200,000 pairs of property sales identified a clear correlation between the improvement of energy efficiency ratings and an increase in resale value in excess of market trends. On average increasing a home’s efficiency by: 

  • 1 EPC band = 6.7% increase above market trends
  • 2 EPC bands = 12.1% increase above market trends
  • 3 EPC bands = 19.5% increase above market trends
  • 4 EPC bands = 22% increase above market trends

How to save energy at home

  • Check if your house has an EPC. A lot of older properties that have been owned by the same person for a long period may not have one. If your property does have an EPC check to see what recommendations are on it and start there.
  • Change your bulbs. Lighting accounts for around 12% of our energy use so switching to energy efficient light bulbs will reduce our usage and costs.
  • Revisit your laundry habits. Washing and drying our clothes accounts for around 13% of energy use. By reducing the temperature on a machine, using half load settings where relevant, and switching from tumble drying to air drying where possible, you can help cut the bills and reduce your energy consumption.
  • Replace your windows. Single glaze windows are less efficient than double glazed windows, forcing you to use more energy to maintain a constant indoor temperature. If you own, replacing single glaze windows could pay off by reducing your energy usage and bills.
  • Check for drafts around windows and doors. Drafts can affect the internal temperature of a room and contribute to increase energy use.   Even I you have recently had them replaced, don’t overlook checking your windows and doors for draft strips. Draft strips can be purchased online or at a local DIY store and can be fitted by you. Draft strips will help stop drafts and keep your rooms from losing heat.
  • Insulate your home. Insulation can be fitted in the roof, walls and floor to help reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Make sure to get impartial advice before you start insulating. For example, spray foam insulation could improve the efficiency of a home but could also end up costing thousands in unintended repairs, such as damp issues in a roof if not installed properly.
  • Regularly clean and bleed radiators. Radiators that are only partially full or ones that have a layer of dust on them do not work as efficiently as the could.  When this happens the heating system needs more gas to keep rooms warm, which in turn costs more money.
  • Switch to a heat pump. This is a substantial investment and needs careful consideration before committing. It won’t necessarily improve an EPC unless your home is already well insulated. So, looking to improve the glazing of windows, draft proofing and radiators before taking this next step is a wise move. If your home is poorly insulated, you could end up with higher running costs resulting in a worse EPC grading. When your heating or cooling system accounts for around 47% of home energy use, it’s worth doing it right. Also make sure to check availability and pricing, currently 69% of air source heat pumps are imported. *
  • Install solar panels. Similar to heat pumps this is another item that requires a large upfront cost. Make sure to do your research and consult with an independent professional prior to getting them fitted. You need to make sure the roof is sturdy enough to support the panels and it’s always best to check the lifespan of the product and work out how often they’d need replacing.
  • Chang your habits. A lot of us could be guilty of leaving our phone charger plugged in or the TV on standby, which can cost up to a few hundred pounds a year. Switching these items off as well as reducing cooking times, by bulk cooking with the oven, or putting lids on pans can contribute to saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.

Being an energy conscious renter

There’s still options available for people who rent, like switching lightbulbs, cleaning radiators, and changing your daily habits. You could still look for more permanent improvements but speaking to the landlord upfront and getting their permission is essential. In England and Wales, landlords have a legal requirement for properties to have at least an E-rated EPC, and this will soon rise to be C-rated minimum.

Getting an Energy Audit

Most importantly, before doing major works to your home, you should have an energy audit, or a retrofit assessment carried out by a professional independent assessor. This will go into more detail about energy wastage and is the best option to find out what will work for each home. All properties are different and use different materials, so there needs to be sensitivity around how the building is modified using newer, more energy efficient products. These assessments can vary in detail, complexity, and cost, depending upon the property’s requirements and are available to homeowners and renters.


*Data obtained in Q2 2021 prior to inflationary pressures put on the UK economy


** ( see p53).