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How To Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Many UK homes are inefficient to heat, resulting in high energy bills and a big carbon footprint. The government is encouraging homeowners to improve their energy ratings, but its not just about following the government’s advice. Improving your energy rating will most definitely bring your energy bills down.

How energy efficient is your home?

Firstly, you need to find out how much using you’re using currently, and how to improve it. If your property has been marketed for sale or rent, it should have a energy performance certificate. This will be extremely helpful for tracking your energy usage.

To find a valid or expired EPC you can look on the government website on the gov EPC register. If your EPC is expired the cost for another one is around £60 – £120 depending on the size and location of your home.

What information is on a EPC?

A EPC provides an indication of how much it will cost to heat and power your property. It also includes recommendations of energy efficient improvements, the cost of carrying them out, and the potential savings in pounds and pence that each one could generate.

Home energy checklist:

If you done have an EPC, you can try doing a basic DIY home energy checklist. You can take a walk around each room and note down what you find.

  • Installation – Inspect the loft, external walls, and ground floor, and the installation around the hot water take and pipes.
  • Draught proofing – Check around the doors, windows and other openings for draughts and gaps, such as key holes, loft hatch, and letter box.
  • Heating – Check that the boiler, radiators and other heat sources are working efficiently, heating controls, and thermostats are working in line correctly.
  • Lighting – Check all lighting is fitted with efficient LED bulbs, including extractor hoods, and outside lights.

The warmth created by your heating system and the energy used will ne quickly lost due to uninsulated areas. Sorting these areas first will make your home noticeably warmer, lower your bills and improve your EPC score.

Making improvements to the fabric of your home

This includes:

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Roof
  • Windows

This is the best place to start to reduce your energy use.

Below is a breakdown of the main ways to make improvements:

1. Add wall insulation

Homes that are uninsulated lose more than a third of their homes heat through the walls. A mid terraced house or a flat has fewer external walls so experiences less heat loss. Whereas, a dethatched house loses heat to the outside world through more walls so the loss is much higher. You need to check what type of walls you have and how your walls were built, as the methods of insulating each type of wall is different. To get an idea of the type of wall construction you have, try and find out the age of your home.

  • Homes more than 100 years old have solid walls, stone or brick. External and internal insulations are available.
  • A home built after 1920 is likely to have cavity walls, made up of two walls with an air gap, (cavity) in between. Insulation no less than 50mm wide can be installed in the cavities.
  • Homes that were built after 1990 also known as (modern homes) have already insulated cavity walls and shouldn’t need to be upgraded.

2. Add floor insulation

Up to 15% of lost heat goes through the ground floor of your home, so it should be insulated if possible. It’s not normally needed for upper floors, but if you have a room above an unheated space, such as a garage, insulation may be beneficial. What you need to do is, check what type of floors you have. Like walls, you need to know what type of floors you have to choose the right sort of insulation.

  • Suspended floors, usually floorboards, rest on joists above a void space. They can be insulated using rigid boards, mineral wool, or spray foam insulation.
  • A layer is rigid insulation can be laid on top of solid floors. Generally stone or concrete.

Many homes have both type of flooring so you may need more than one approach.

3. Add roof and loft insulation

Large dethatched houses and bungalows lose a huge amount of heat through the roof. Insulating a roof is one of the most cost effective improvements to your homes energy efficiency. Most homes benefit from a minimum of 270mm if insulation.

Most roofs can be insulated. But again, there’s different methods.

  • Flat roofs can be insulated as warm deck, cold deck, or inverted roof.
  • Pitched roofs can be insulated at joist level as a cold roof, often called loft insulation. Insulation rolls, rigid boards, and spray foam applications are all available.

4. Upgrade windows and doors

Replacing single glazing with more energy efficient windows will make your home warmer and quieter. Not every home can install replacement windows but there’s some other options:

  • Made up of two panels of glass with a sealed gap between, filled with air or inert gas, double glazing is the most common type.
  • Triple glazing can be more effective than double glazing. Made up of three panes of glass and two gaps.
  • Secondary glazing is not a replacement, but is added to existing windows to improve heat retention.

5. Add hot water cylinder and pipe insulation

Insulating your hot water tank alone is likely to pay for its self in a year and its easy to do. Your boiler works under pressure to provide you with hot water and heated radiators. Unfortunately a lot of heat can be lost due to an uninsulated hot water tank and pipes.

6. Draught proofing

Although controlled ventilation is important to prevent damp and condensation, draughts waste heat and energy.

DIY draught proofing is easy using off-the-shelf products to seal around doors and windows, and ready-made products are also available to draught proof keyholes and letterboxes.

7. Lighting

Swapping out regluar light bulbs for low energy LEDs can even improve your EPC rating. LED bulbs are more expensive to buy, but they use around 90% less energy and last up to 15 times longer, making it more value for money.

Although lighting may seem a minor part of your homes energy usage, it is part of the EPC assessment.

8. Low carbon heating

If your home is well insulated and youre in a position to have a whole new heating system installed, its time to think about the way its heated.

A poorly insulated home will have a much higher heat demand, whereas a well insulated home would have a lot lower heat demand. When you upgrade or replace your heating system it should be sized to suit that reduced heat demand.

A trained engineer will be able to calcluate the right boiler size to meet your hot water and heating demands.

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