The topic of energy efficient homes has been at the top of many lists for years now. But with the current cost of living crisis, it has taken on even more importance.
Energy bills are soaring, and homeowners are looking for ways to mitigate the extra costs. An energy-efficient home can help lower electricity and gas bills while being friendlier on the planet. We look at how you can save energy at home, the most efficient property types, government initiatives and more.
Which types of homes are the most energy efficient?
Generally, new-build properties are more efficient than older homes – they are built with energy efficiency in mind.
Historically, older and larger Victorian and Edwardian homes have lacked insulation compared to newer properties.
Indeed, the property’s age is the most significant factor regarding energy efficiency. Homes built after 2012 were likely to have a better energy performance certificate (EPC) than older homes. Only 12% of properties built before 1900 have a high energy efficiency rating.
According to the Office of National Statistics, flats and maisonettes are England and Wales’ most energy-efficient property type. This is largely down to size, as both are typically the smallest property types.
How to improve energy efficiency in your home
Even if you live in an older property, there are many ways to make your home more energy efficient. Some solutions involve an initial outlay but save money in the long run, while others don’t cost a penny to implement.
Add wall insulation
Uninsulated homes lose more than a third of their heat through the walls. Detached homes, in particular, lose heat from every side. Adding wall insulation can reduce heat escaping and keep it warmer for longer.
Like walls, the floor is also a primary area for heat to escape. Up to 15% of heat goes through the ground floor of your home, and adding floor insulation at ground level helps keep it inside the property.
Upgrade windows and doors
Single-glazing should be replaced with more energy-efficient options like double and triple glazing. It’s an excellent option for rental properties, listed buildings and conservation areas where changing the windows is often prohibited.
Swapping an old light bulb for low-energy LEDs means you could use around 90% less energy around the home. Beyond that, LEDs can even improve the overall EPC rating of the property.
Keep doors closed
Keeping doors closed is a simple yet effective option to help stop heat escaping. It might not have the same impact as adding insulation, but it will have some impact on energy consumption around the home.
Draught can often escape through various areas of the home, whether it’s cracks in the windows or walls. Uncontrolled draughts lead to heat and energy waste. For many, DIY draught-proofing is the answer. Off-the-shelf products can help seal gaps around doors and windows, while products are also available to proof keyholes and letterboxes.
Installing a smart metre gives homeowners more control over their electricity as they can see how much energy they consume. Smart metres allow you to plan better and provide more clarity over energy consumption.
What is the government doing?
The UK Government published its Heat and Building Strategy to show how the UK will decarbonise homes and aim to achieve net zero by 2050.
For energy targets to be met in the residential sector, the government must offer incentives so homeowners and landlords can access sustainable measures.
Green Home Grant
The Green Homes Grant went some way to placating those otherwise unsure about making environmentally-friendly changes to their home. However, that particular scheme ended in the first quarter of 2022. The government now needs to decide if it will invest further in the Green Home Grant or introduce additional schemes.
Bringing existing homes up to standard
Along with a plan to create energy-efficient new homes, the government also outlined the need for higher energy standards in existing properties. The aim is to make them warmer while reducing bills.
Suggestions include replacing windows, heat pumps, cooling systems and fixed lighting. However, costs for these improvements vary significantly – an older Victorian terrace house, for example, will be more expensive than a single apartment constructed in the 1970s.
New EPC regulations
Current landlords will also be required to bring their EPC rating up, with the government committing to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) starting from 2025. All rental properties will need an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above under the new changes.
Developer considerations when building new homes
The Future Homes Standard ensures that all new homes built from 2025 will produce 75%-80% fewer emissions. The government has introduced significant building regulation changes where new builds currently need to produce 30% fewer emissions. This is to lay the groundwork for further changes coming in during 2025.
Housing developers are already making more energy-efficient homes. The overwhelming majority of new builds have features that reduce carbon emissions and produce more affordable energy bills.
Being more energy efficient
The plan is that new build homes should be more energy efficient from 2025 onwards, and efforts are already in place to improve energy consumption in current properties.
Yet all eyes are on the government to see what procedures it puts into incentives for homeowners going forwards. But for now, you can make smaller changes to your properties to make them more environmentally and energy friendly without spending a fortune.
Last Updated: August 22nd, 2023