Four new UK weather records were set in 2019, including the highest winter and summer temperatures ever recorded, and the 2010s were the second hottest and second wettest decades of the past 100 years according to the Met Office.
This matters because the consequences of climate change for the UK are likely to be warmer summers, milder winters, more rain and – possibly – more flooding. We should all be doing our bit to help tackle climate change and looking for ways to create energy-efficient homes is a good place to start.
How to be more energy efficient
Scientists urge us to act now to save energy, use more sustainable materials, and contribute less to further global warming. On a more practical note, as energy becomes more expensive, it makes sense to adjust our lifestyles and consider energy-efficient home design ideas.
Ways to make your home energy-efficient
Most of our homes are not energy-efficient because they are old and built to accommodate open fires rather than central heating. This means they are leaky aka drafty!
Becoming energy-efficient will require some investment, but there are long-term savings to be had:
Install a smart meter
Smart meters give a minute-by-minute reading of electricity and gas usage. This allows you to identify what activity uses the most energy. Tip: a shorter shower uses less energy and can save money on utility bills.
Insulate your home
Keeping water and heating pipes covered reduces heat loss, so you can turn down the thermostat and reduce energy bills. The most effective measures include lining the loft. Lagging pipes, injecting insulation into cavity walls, and draught-proofing by blocking unwanted gaps around windows or underneath doors.
Double or triple-glazed windows
Double glazing traps a layer of warmth and helps keep out noise. Triple glazing has a third layer to multiply the effect. Before you install, check with your council that you are not in a conservation area. If you are it may mean you cannot fit modern windows of this kind.
Fit solar panels
An increasingly popular method of saving energy in the home is fitting solar panels. You’ll have seen these panels (also called photovoltaic cells or PVs) on more and more roofs. They capture the sun’s energy, absorbing rays even on relatively cloudy days. The cells convert this into electricity which can contribute to running your home. This can help to create an energy-efficient home.
Energy-efficient light bulbs
The most common new energy-efficient type of lighting is LED. These lights use 75 per cent less energy and last 25 times longer than old-fashioned ‘incandescent’ lighting. Most new homes now have LED lighting and energy-efficient light bulbs as standard.
Create a roof garden
Instead of conventional materials like tiles or concrete, there can be a roof lawn or plant growth. These can improve a home’s energy efficiency by making the area beneath the roof warmer. They also limit excessive rain-water run-off damaging walls or gutters and is ideal for biodiversity.
But your property must be strong enough to support the roof which may be heavier than traditional materials.
Collecting rainwater, in a water-butt, gives you a ready supply of water for the garden.
Use a garden compost bin
Don’t waste leftover food! It can become compost, a kind of fertiliser to maintain plants in your garden (or your allotment).
Alternative building materials
If you considering an extension or outbuilding consider using more sustainable materials than bricks and mortar. Ecobricks are stuffed solid with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block. Some specialist builders use cob (a mix of mud and straw which combines to form very solid bricks).
Schemes to help with energy efficiency
Are you keen to create an energy-efficient home but don’t know where to start – or are wary of big expenditures? There may be help at hand with a home energy efficiency scheme.
For some energy improvements, you may be entitled to an energy-efficient grant for your home. Many local councils operate schemes – eligibility varies according to where you live and your own circumstances, but a full list is on www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk, a government website.
For those born before April 6 1954 and who lived in the UK for at least one day between September 16 and 29 2019 (the qualifying period), there’s a one-off annual winter fuel payment of £100 to £300. The government writes to each recipient to explain how much they get. Some older residents get additional government money in extremely cold weather.
There are also two energy-efficient home schemes for those with solar panels or domestic wind turbines – Smart Export Guarantee and the Renewable Heat Incentive. In certain circumstances, if you generate your own electricity any excess can be sold to commercial energy suppliers.
Last Updated: April 15th, 2023