Looking for ways to lower your carbon footprint this new year? Or maybe you’re just hoping to get your energy usage down after that eye-watering Christmas bill? Whatever the reason, make Greta Thunberg proud by following these ten steps to turn your existing house into a super-efficient eco-home.
The dream of being able to turn your existing home into a cost effective, snug and wholly comfortable eco-home is not one that happens overnight; nor will most come for free, but there are some measures that outperform the rest and can quickly help you save money and improve your situation.
Here are the top 10 most effective measures you can take to fast turn your existing home into an environmentally sound one to be proud of.
- Improve loft insulation – it’s rare today that people have no loft insulation installed but compared to modern regulations almost everybody would benefit from topping it up. Modern building regulations suggest almost 300mm of fibre glass insulation to keep your home snug and once it’s done you can forget about it. Most homes can be treated for less than £500 and you’re likely to get your money back within 2-3 years.
- Get cavity wall insulation – if you live in a home built in the last 100 years it is likely that your home will have cavity walls. If so check if they are insulated and treat them if they are not. There are still companies out there providing this service for competitive rates and the savings will often pay for the work within 4-5 years.
- Target draughts and open chimneys – in older properties this is a real cost saver especially for those with open chimneys. Draughts can account for around 15% of a standard energy bill, more so for older properties. Simple draught proofing seals, tape and chimney balloons can recoup the cost within a year and cut down wasted energy that is literally going up the chimney.
- Install solar panels – Prices for solar panel systems have fallen considerably, and still far outstrip any standard investment options. Even the largest 4kW (16 panel) domestic system cost no more than £7,000 and you are likely to get your money back within 10 years with a 20-year tariff payment term. It will also offset your daytime electricity usage and works wonders with a heat pump.
- Install a heat pump – an air source heat pump could cost £10-15K for the average domestic home, but the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme offers tax free payments for 7 years almost guaranteeing that you will get your money back within this term. In real numbers this is the equivalent of 12.5% return on investment.
- Ditch the AGA – if you have one of these get rid of it, or at the very least considerably reduce its usage. Even efficient electric systems can cost well over £1,000 per year to operate. For minimal heating output these are very expensive ornaments for cooking food.
- Install low flow temperature shower heads – this is also a measure that will return the investment within the first couple of years. Installing replacement shower heads that aerate the water and give you the same shower feeling whilst using 25% less water can be bought for around £25 each.
- Change to LED lighting throughout – LED lights are dropping in price and some can be bought for less than £10 online. If you occupy the house during the day or have areas in the home that are used all the time with lots of lights then this measure is a no-brainer. Depending on usage this typically costs less than £300 to implement, but you could realistically get your money back within the first year.
- Stop using your tumble dryer – many people use tumble dryers and they are a convenience, but most people spend around £150 per year drying clothes so if you can find space to naturally dry clothes then you’ll immediately be quids in.
- Start collecting rainwater – this low-cost modification is best for avid gardeners. When rainwater is properly collected the savings on metered water could be considerable. A simple plastic barrel and guttering and you’re away!
So, there you go, even if you haven’t got much to spend you can make a big impact on your energy bills starting straight away. What are you waiting for!
“Doug Johnson has a mechanical engineering background and much practical renewable energy experience with involvement in over 300 domestic low energy home building projects since 2008. He is the Director and Founder of Mesh Energy, of Farnham, helping architects and their clients design and build low energy projects.”