Energy Efficiency for Homes & Buildings

We all want warm and secure buildings that cost less to run and have less environmental impact.  This can be achieved by increasing their energy efficiency, which in turn can increase property value.  Bills and the carbon emissions from buildings can be reduced by up to 50% by actively reducing energy consumption and by stopping heat leaking from buildings.

Behavioural energy efficiency measures

The cheapest way of making energy efficient homes is by doing simple things. Such include turning devices off when not using them, turning down the thermostat and using less hot water.  It will make sense to try these changes for a few months before installing any other measures.  This will allow you to establish a baseline of energy use.

Below are some top tips, which if done together will save 10% on your energy bill.

Turn down the heating

Controlling your heating can make you immediate savings.  Often heating is turned on for too long, is on when you’re away for the weekend, or is simply a bit too high.  Take control of these factors, and also when you are heating hot water, and you should see positive differences.

Turning your heating down by 2 degrees can save up to 20% on bills and your environmental impact!

Turn off heating in unused rooms

Turning off heating in unused rooms is an obvious thing to do, but is something people often don’t do!  You can control heating for particular rooms by installing thermostatic radiator valves, but you can also simply turn off the radiators in unused rooms.

Use less hot water

By having timed showers or fewer baths you can really improve the energy use in your home.  Alternatively, you can get a more efficient showerhead.  You can save a huge amount of water too – each of us uses around 50,000 litres of water per year, with a third of that for washing!

Make best use of appliances

We all know about switching off appliances and lights, and not overfilling the kettle – but these simple steps can save £30 a year!  When you add in the cutting down of washing machine use and using a bowl for washing up, you can also save another £30!  

There are some other things you can also consider. Such include, when you replace devices, ensuring you buy those with a AAA+ rating. And you can also buy smart devices such as fridges that turn themselves off at night.

Insulation and energy efficiency

To assess your needs for insulation, your home’s energy certificate is a good place to start.  These certificates are a requirement for rental properties and for those that have recently been sold.  They provide a grading for the property and will recommend on how to improve its energy efficiency.

Loft insulation is the cheapest form of insulation and if you haven’t got any, installing this will give you the biggest bang for your buck! So waste no time – get up into your attic and check out what’s there!

Loft insulation

You lose around a quarter of the heat from your home through the roof.  In many cases, you can install loft insulation yourself very cheaply.  The first layer of loft insulation is laid between the joists, the second across the joists.

Insulation can also be laid between and over the rafters, which are the sloping timbers that make up the roof – but this is something you will need a professional for.  If there are inaccessible areas in your loft, you can also have a professional blow insulation into these tricky spots.

Wall insulation

Depending on how your house has been built, a professional may be able to put in cavity wall insulation. This can add to the building’s energy efficiency – however, you should consider that this has caused condensation problems for some home owners. 

The alternative is to install solid wall insulation, which means either putting in a layer internally or on the external walls of the house.

Underfloor insulation

Underfloor insulation can be achieved by getting excellent carpets with underlay, but can be enhanced by getting under the floorboards and installing insulation.  You need to see what floor you have in order to consider your options, as some are concrete.  To see what’s possible, lift the corner of a carpet using a pair of pliers and have a look underneath.

Insulating hot water tanks and pipes

Some houses have a hot water tank, whilst many simply have a combi boiler that responds on demand for hot water or heating.  If you have a hot water tank and it doesn’t have insulation, here you can have a quick energy efficiency win!  Simply get a hot water tank insulating jack for £20 from a DIY shop and cover that tank – it will pay for itself within a year! 

Piping around these systems also loses a lot of heat.  You can get pipe lagging and install it around these pipes for some quick payback.  If you want, you can also get under the floorboards and insulate the pipes there.

Draught proofing

Draught proofing doors and windows can be done at a very low cost.  There are options for adding a film to your window and covering the gaps around the window itself using specialist tapes.  Draught proofing doors will have a bigger impact and there are plenty of options for door draught excluders.

Other energy efficiency measures

There are other things to do to increase the energy efficiency of your home which are detailed below.  Further to what is here, you can also consider whether you want to install renewable heating systems or renewable electricity systems in your home.


Replacing spent light bulbs with energy efficient alternatives will save energy, and as they last longer, these will reduce the amount of waste from lighting.  They have an additional cost, but this is quickly paid back.  If you replace all the bulbs in your house, then you could save up to £25 in a year.

Radiator reflectors

Putting a reflective surface behind radiators will ensure as much heat as possible comes back into the room! To do this, you can install tin foil, or purchase more professional reflectors from DIY stores.

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1 World Solar West
AD Heating Ltd
AGMS Independent Energy, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire.
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Eco Design Consultants KeynesEco Design Consultants is an award winning chartered architectural practice, that designs beautiful, practical and fun places to live and work.
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