Investing in energy saving home improvements

With a climate catastrophe on our hands and the beginnings of a cost of living crisis, it’s little wonder individuals, lobby groups and politicians are focussing their attention on ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprints and thus our bills.
Our homes provide a good starting point for this, yet there is quite a lot we could be doing but aren’t. This may be partly due to expense, but also to not quite knowing what to do, how much it will set you back and whether you will reap any financial benefits in the short, medium or long term.
So, here are a few suggestions as to what we could and should be doing which won’t break the bank and could in fact help increase the value of your property.
If you have a garden one of the easiest and most straightforward things to do is invest in at least one water butt. It stands to reason the more you have, the more water you will collect so it is worth getting several, even if you have a relatively small garden. Attach them to the downpipes and you will be surprised how much water can be collected. In the dryer months, especially if we end up having a hosepipe ban, having this extra water supply will help tend and potentially save any precious plants.
Another good and inexpensive investment is that of a compost bin. You will have to fork it through from time to time and make sure you know what you can and cannot put in it, but it will repay you with amazing and free compost for which your plants will be grateful!
Moving inside the house, aside from switching to LED lights, turning them off when they are not needed, turning the thermostat down a few degrees, installing a water meter, leaving nothing on standby and reducing the amount of time you are in the shower, one of the most cost-effective things to do is that of insulation.
Houses, in particular those built before the 1980s, leech energy and therefore money. However, upgrading or installing insulation within a property, such as in the walls and in the roof, is one of the best ways of keeping the heat in, thus reducing energy usage and bills.
According to the Renewable Energy Hub, installing cavity wall and loft insulation could cut your energy bills by around £140 per year and £150 per year respectively after an initial spend of £450 and £300 respectively. Obviously the bigger the house, the more it will cost but the savings will still mount up. As an add on to that, make sure repairs on the roof are up to date and replace any missing tiles.
Double glazing is another simple but effective way to lower bills although the initial outlay can be expensive depending on the size and style of the windows. According to the Double Glazing Network, prices can be as low as £150 per window but quotes of £2,000 plus are not uncommon. Materials, size, style and the number of windows to be done will all need to be factored into the cost. The best bet is to shop around and get a few companies in to provide an estimate. Also don’t forget if you live in a listed building, you will need planning consent. However, as well as creating an energy efficient and warm home, it will also add to the value of your property, so in the long run, it’s a useful investment.
Upgrading your boiler may seem an expensive idea at around £2,500, but it’s another situation where a little short-term pain will give you long term gain, as it will be more efficient and over time will save you money.
An alternative to a new or an upgraded boiler is to choose a ground source heat pump. Although they will save you between £700 and £1,400 each year, the downside is they are expensive to install at between £13,000 to £35,000 so they may only be worth considering if you are planning to stay in the home for many years. Check out Green Match for prices.
With the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid cars, now could be the time to install a charge point. Doing so is relatively inexpensive at £800 according to the RAC and will be a definite plus point if and when you come to sell your home.
Finally, solar panels can also help reduce energy bills but only as part of a long-term investment. The Energy Saving Trust suggests a typical domestic solar PV system, with 20m2 of panels that should be suitable for most homes, could cost between £4,000 and £5,000. This includes the materials needed as well as the cost of labour for installation and connection of the system. Once installed it should last for 25 years and should not require much maintenance in that time.
For more information, The Energy Saving Trust and Green Match have a great many ideas, guides and information on a variety of ways in which you can reduce your energy bills and be more efficient in your energy usage. Even if you can’t afford to do all of these suggestions, doing one or two can make a real difference.