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How to insulate your home and cut energy bills this winter

Energy efficiency has never been more important when it comes to residential property. From first-time buyers to growing families, homebuyers now increasingly look to eco-friendly features and high EPC ratings for homes that are suited to 21st century living.

But whether or not you are considering moving home, the current energy crisis means higher heating bills this winter. Whatever government measures may be taken, it’s a good idea to put some serious thought into how best to insulate your property.

We’ve put together some of the key steps you can take to reduce heat loss and make your home cosier to live in, while keeping heating bills under control.

Fitting roof and wall insulation

Did you know that about a quarter of heat escapes through the roof? Loft insulation is one of most obvious and effective ways to combat heat loss in the home and reduce heating bills. If you already have some loft insulation in place, topping it up to the recommended depth of 250-270mm shouldn’t cost that much – you could even do the job yourself. Loft insulation has a lifespan of around 40 years and pays for itself many times over during that time.

Around a third of heat loss in the home occurs through uninsulated walls. For modern properties, cavity wall insulation is highly recommended to address this problem. Most cavity walls can be injected with insulation material into the cavity from outside, causing little disruption or mess. The cost typically pays for itself in less than 5 years through lower energy bills from a better insulated home.

Solid walls in older buildings and period homes lose nearly twice as much as cavity walls, so the effect of installing insulation can be even more pronounced. This can be done either from the outside or the inside, but both methods come with a degree of mess and disruption and installation costs are much higher than for cavity walls.

Draughtproofing windows and doors

Insulating windows and external doors can be one of the most rewarding ways of improving the cosiness of your home. Energy efficient double-glazed windows not only get rid of cold draughts and make the property cheaper to heat, but they also provide welcome acoustic improvements.

For homes where window or door replacements are not an option, secondary glazing is a useful alternative. Fitting an additional pane of glass to the inside of the existing window can be a cost-effective way to get through a cold winter. If the property is a listed building, permanent secondary glazing may be the only way to preserve the original windows for their architectural or historical significance while improving the energy efficiency of the building for today’s requirements.

In addition to the above, you’ll be amazed at the difference that can be made immediately with something as simple as adding thermally lined curtains and fitting draughtproofing strips around doors.

Upgrading the Central Heating system

Central heating boilers account for around 50% of home energy use, while water heating accounts for about 15%. If your boiler is more than 10 years old, it may be time to consider an upgrade. Replacing an old gas boiler running at 40% efficiency with a new high-efficiency condensing boiler can lead to significant savings.

If you are thinking of changing your heating system, take a look a heat pumps too. They are a more sustainable way to heat properties, using the heat from the ground or air around the property and increasing the temperature for use in the home. Heat pumps work best in well insulated properties. In terms of cost, they are a long-term investment into the future of your home.

If you’re not about to change your boiler, little changes can make a big difference too. Fitting thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to individual radiators will allow you to adjust the temperature in each room, while installing smart meters and smart thermostats will put you in full control of your heating system. Even the smallest things such as turning down the central heating thermostat by a couple of degrees, switching off the lights when you leave a room, and bleeding radiators every year, can make a real difference.

Considering solar panels

If you want to invest into future proofing your home, a solar array on the roof can be a great idea. Ideally, the roof should be facing south or west for maximum output. Solar PV installations can be expensive to install and you can expect an approximate 5% rate of return over the 25-year lifetime of your solar panel investment.

In addition to being one of the most effective ways to cut carbon consumption by embracing renewable energy, you get the benefit of free electricity while it is being generated on your roof. And with solar batteries now becoming widely available, you can even store the solar energy you produce for use when the sun doesn’t shine.

Next steps

With energy prices at an all-time high, it is likely that we will all be making big changes to how we use energy in the home, and this will also affect the house buying process. It may even be the case that Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings could play a factor in determining future mortgage levels or rental agreements. If you are concerned about the energy efficiency of a property you are thinking of buying, or would like our expert retrofit advice to bring your home up to date, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
UK Wide Chartered Surveyors
Cosey Homes offer the full range RICS home surveys from Level 1 - 3 with national coverage provided by our experienced local property surveying team.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only and not intended as advice. Each property has its own set of unique circumstances, all potential issues should be investigated by a surveyor on a case by case basis before making any decision.