Better Guide to Energy Efficient Homes

This guide has been created by @Tommo, but it has been inputted on by the Better Century community (as this is a wiki post and can be edited by trusted members of the community).

Energy for heating homes makes up 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions [4]. According to Committee on Climate Change in the UK we could reduce energy use in our homes by 25% through effective retrofitting of energy efficiency measures [5] resulting in a saving of £331 per average household. With the right energy efficiency measures and renewable energy installed in homes, alongside battery storage, a home could be 100% without energy from the grid.

The question is what should be done first and what has the most significant pay back?

I’ve gone about extracting information from various sources about how to make your house more energy efficient. This is the Better Century’s step by step guide to energy efficient homes:

Step 1: Access current energy usage

Look at your bill and your energy performance certificate (required for UK properties when constructed, sold or let). The energy performance certificate will give your house a rating and will give top recommendations on improving efficiency. In improving your energy rating experts project you will also increase the value of your property (see MoneySavingExperts analysis of this).

For your bill look at the kWh usage in the last year, or multiply this up from a recent month. An average household in 2014 the average domestic electricity consumption per UK household was 4,000kWh and the average domestic gas consumption per UK household was 12,400kWh [2], with an average cost of £1,326 a year [3].

Don’t worry if you’re way over the average. There are a number of factors:

  • The type, size, location and age of your home
  • The levels of wall, floor and loft insulation
  • The external wall area and windows area
  • The efficiency of the appliances and lighting
  • The occupants behaviours and use of the home

Step 2: Adapt behaviour

You should probably figure out whether changing behaviour can have a massive difference to your energy bill before going to great expense on making improvements. Here’s some top recommendations from the Energy Saving Trust [1]:

  • Turn devices off stand by (saving £30 a year on average).
  • Switch devices off standby saving £30 a year.
  • Use devices in your kitchen more effectively by cutting back on washing, boiling only the water you need in your kettle and cutting back use of washing machine.
  • Get in control of your heating; ensure heating is only on when you’re there and keep the heat at a minimum.

Step 3: Install low cost tech and draft proof

You may want to install low cost technology and draft proof to see what impact it has on your overall bills. It could make quite a significant difference and is a good step to take before making more significant investment:

  • Install LED light bulbs in your home - cost £100 for an average household with a £35 a year pay back [1}
  • Install a water efficient shower head and spend less time in the shower saving up to £80 a year [1]
  • Draft proof windows, doors, floor boards, skirting boards, and install a chimney draft excluder, costing £200 if done professionally, but saving you £20 a year [1]

Step 4: Get More Information

What you need now is more information about what is consuming energy in your house and where you are losing energy. Check out some of the common places where we are losing energy (since you’ve already done the draft proofing):

  • Windows: check whether your windows are double or triple glazed.
  • Boiler: If you’ve got an old boiler then you can make significant savings [1]
  • Check insulation in the attic: This is the most common place to be losing energy (good information here on the energy saving trust)
  • Electric heaters: If you have electric heating devices these can be a major pull on energy. See if turning them off for a week or two in the summer makes a major difference then if it does replace them.

The other thing you may want to do at this stage is get a Smart Meter. Energy companies are often offering these free. It will help you in a number of areas:

  • Access when you are expending a lot of energy so you can figure out what things are drawing on the energy.
  • Ensures billing is correct.
  • Allow you to control your energy outside of your house.

If you want to go further then you could employ an expert to give you advice about how to improve energy efficiency in your home. An expert would survey your home and then give you advice about where to make improvements as well as suggestions on who to use locally. This can be invaluable to those who are extremely busy.

Step 5: Install Sizeable Energy Efficiency Measures

If you feel you can save a lot of money by correcting your house through energy efficiency measures then you should. The common forms of energy efficiency measures include:

  • Triple glazed windows
  • Insulation (roof & loft, cavity wall, solid wall, insulating tanks)
  • Replacing heating system

There is good information on the energy saving trust about each of these mechanisms.

Step 6: Install Renewable Energy at Home

Installing renewable energy at home can improve your energy performance certificate, and therefore increase the value of your house. There are numerous renewable energy’s you could install at home, which will all be discussed at Better Century (see solar here, air source heat pump here)

The following you should consider (useful information on energy saving trust on each):

  • Heating: Solar, Ground Source, Air Source, Biomass, Thermal Stores
  • Electricity: Solar, small wind, micro-CHP

In addition to each of these there is the ability to install batteries or use electric vehicles to ensure you optimise the energy you produce.

Step 7: Replace energy rich devices with new tech

Fridges, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers as well as boilers are obvious things to get better versions of when you replace them. Each has an energy rating allowing for you to easily make savings on energy.

I am yet to find a reliable source of information to give you an insight into the money you can save from these devices and await further input.

Final Step: Share your experiences here!

Share what experiences you’ve had of making your house more energy efficient. Please share:

  • Recommended products
  • Experiences of installation and figuring out the process
  • Things which are missing to this piece (we’ll add them to improve over time)

References [1] Energy Saving Trust https://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/home-energy-efficiency/energy-saving-quick-wins [2] Department for Energy and Climate Change [3] Ofgem [4] EPA Report on Emissions https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/styles/medium/public/2016-05/global_emissions_sector_2015.png [5] The Committee on Climate Change Forth Review Budget (2013) https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/fourth-carbon-budget-review/

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Hi @Tom Thanks for sharing this information.
I’d suggest de-emphasising monetary gains as the prime motivator for adopting energy efficiency measures, where possible. Many will be motivated by environmental concerns, wanting to live in a healthier home as well as just “doing the right thing” - especially if we all want to create a better century!
For further references I’d suggest taking a look at www.carbon.coop who are doing amazing things to reduce the carbon impact of houses.

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Cheers Locky! Do you think there’s anywhere you can get actual cost savings for each of the sections?

Will have a look at the reference and will try and make changes over the next few days…

No worries. I met someone tonight actually who might be able help. I will ask her to join the forum when I get back in touch with her. She’s overseen the retrofit of 1200 homes so has loads of insight to share.

2 Likes

That would be awesome! Ready to co-create the better guide with experiences and all sorts shared.

Thanks @Locky

Linking these topics are very relevant to each other.

https://community.bettercentury.org/t/are-air-to-air-heat-pumps-worth-it-in-the-uk-climate/142/26

Loving some these projects put up by the @GreenBuildingStore. This one’s a corker!

Linking in this Topic:

Linking these topics:

Very good, but i had to smile at the picture of the ancient thermostat!. I think that’s something to replace with an electronic sensor As those old bi-metallic devices are so poor at regulating heat, typically 2 to 4 degree ‘swing’ which means turning the temperature up to compensate for the low end. For example you want your house at 19 degrees but it will drop to 17 before the bi-metallic switches the power back on to the pump so you turn up the heating a bit … now it will swing from 19 to 23 degrees and as every degree above 19 is about 10% of your total heating bill you are burning money whereas a nice sensor can regulate right down to points of a degree and act to keep the temperature bang on 19 !

Thanks Steven. Have you got any recommendations of which one to get?

Hi @Tom. You mentioned paying for expert advice - but where would I look to find someone reliable in an area I don’t know? Are there surveyors who specialise in energy-saving?

I Libby. You may want to look at YouGen - they have a pretty good list of suppliers. Members of the community have been making their own recommendations about suppliers, who we will be contacting, and I think thatPeak Power Systems may be in your neck of the woods and would be useful to you.

Thanks for those tips, Tom. A friend has also suggested AECB Association for Environment Conscious Building who look good

Yeah, they’re a great bunch. Good tip!

Libby. Just to say there have been numerous energy efficiency experts researched by our @Recommended_Partners group. Here they are:

Name of Organisation Website Description Location
AGMS Independent Energy https://www.agmsenergy.com/ Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire.
Micro-Renewable Solutions https://www.microrenewable.co.uk/ Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire
EcoHaus http://www.ecohaus.org.uk/ Design and build company specialising in truly energy efficient, sustainable and healthy homes. Cornwall
Happy Energy http://happyenergy.co.uk/ Cornwall
GreenGenUK Limited http://www.greengenuk.com/ Cornwall
Eco Arc https://ecoarc.co.uk/ Cumbria
Aran Services Ltd https://www.aranservices.co.uk/ East
Energie Solutions https://www.energiesolutions.co.uk/ East
Eternal Energy Systems Ltd https://www.eternalenergysystems.co.uk/ East
East Anglia Renewables Ltd T/A Eco East Anglia https://ecoeastanglia.co.uk/ East Anglia
Greenscape Energy Ltd https://greenscapeenergy.co.uk/ East Anglia
Bere Architects https://www.bere.co.uk/ London
Soup Architects https://souparchitects.com/ London
Carbon Co-op https://carbon.coop/ Community co-op that supports people tackle climate change Manchester
Douglas Strachan Architects https://www.douglasstrachan.com/ Mid Lothian
Greenshop Solar https://www.greenshopsolar.co.uk/ Midlands
Eco Design Consultants https://www.ecodesignconsultants.co.uk/ Milton Keynes
Northburn Solar http://www.northburnsolar.co.uk/ North
Peak Power Systems Ltd https://www.peakpowersystems.co.uk/ North
AR POWER http://www.arpower.co.uk/ North East
Pure Solar Ltd T/A Pure Renewables http://purerenewables.co.uk/ North East
Athena Electrical Ltd http://www.athenaelectrical.com/solar-pv-installation.html North London
Perfect Sense Energy https://perfectsenseenergy.com/ North West
Hero Renewables Ltd http://herorenewables.co.uk/ North West
R-ECO The Renewable Energy Co-operative http://www.r-eco.coop/ Oxfordshire
Box Power https://www.boxergy.com Provide renewable heating systems Scotland
AD Heating Ltd http://www.adheating.co.uk/ Scotland
Anderson Floor Warming And Renewables https://www.andersonfloorwarming.co.uk/ Scotland
Ecoliving http://www.ecolivinguk.com/ Scotland
Perthshire Biofuels https://perthshirebiofuels.co.uk/ Scotland
Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens https://ssk.uk.com/ Sustainable Kitchen Provider Sheffield
GenFIT c/o PV FIT Ltd https://www.generationfit.co.uk/ South
Joju Solar https://www.jojusolar.co.uk/ South
Ecovolt Environment https://www.ecovoltenvironment.com/ South East
Urbane-Eco http://urbane-eco.co.uk/site/ Design and Energy Efficiency Services South West
Bioheat Energy Limited https://www.bioheat.co.uk/ Provide renewable heating systems South West
1 World Solar http://www.1worldsolar.co.uk/ South West
MIG Renewable Technologies Ltd http://migrenewables.com/ South West
Navitas Sustainable Heating Systems Limited http://www.navitassystems.co.uk/ South West
H2ecO Ltd https://h2-eco.com/ South West
Matildas Planet https://www.matildasplanet.org Range of innovative energy efficiency products UK Wide
Zhyphen https://zhyphen.com/ Providers of UK manufactured battery storage UK Wide
Green Building Store https://www.greenbuildingstore.co.uk/ Building products and services UK Wide
Super Homes http://www.superhomes.org.uk/ Provide case studies of amazing homes UK Wide
Parity Projects http://www.parityprojects.com/ Provide consultancy and advice on retrofitting buildings UK Wide
Inveka https://www.inveka.co.uk/about-us/ UPvC Windows and Doors from recycled windows, doors and conservatories. UK Wide
Energy Saving Trust http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/about-us Impartial advice to save energy UK Wide
Save Money Cut Carbon https://www.savemoneycutcarbon.com/ Provide realm of products and services to improve effiency of homes and workplaces UK Wide
Trina Solar https://www.trinasolar.com UK Wide
Carbon Trust https://www.carbontrust.com Support people and organisations to reduce carbon UK Wide
Caplor Energy https://www.caplor.co.uk/ Provide renewable heating systems West Midlands, Wales
PV Renewable Energy LTD http://pvrenewables.co.uk/ Witham, Danbury and Maldon Essex
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Recently pulled together a league table of the various measure of heating efficiency I intend to publish on the main site at some point soon. Here is it - hope you find it useful!

Heating (kWhrs) Saved from Efficiency Measure

Detached House Semi Detached House Mid Terrace House Detached Bungalow Flat
Solid Wall Insulation 2,107.1 1,250.0 773.8 845.2 583.3
Cavity Wall Insulation 1,190.5 738.1 452.4 500.0 345.2
Installing Loft Insulation (from none) 1,095.2 654.8 583.3 940.5 0.0
Single to Double Glazing Windows 972.6 691.1 563.1 563.1 460.7
Turning Down Heating by 2 degrees 854.3 657.1 676.9 854.3 576.1
Installing Hot Water Pipe Insulation 595.2 357.1 357.1 535.7 357.1
Solar Water Heating 530.5 397.9 344.8 397.9 0.0
Installing Hot Water Tank Insulation 476.2 511.9 511.9 500.0 535.7
Under Floor Insulation 333.3 190.5 131.0 333.3 0.0
Double to Triple Glazing Windows 243.2 172.8 140.8 140.8 115.2
Install Water Efficient Shower Head 175.2 131.4 131.4 175.2 87.6
Turn off heating in unused rooms 116.1 87.6 87.6 116.1 54.8
Improving Hot Water Tank Insulation 107.1 119.0 119.0 119.0 119.0
Improving Loft Insultation 95.2 59.5 47.6 83.3 0.0
Radiator Reflector Panels 2.6 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.6
Draught Proofing Doors 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3

Amazing list - still processing - many thanks.