Give your home an energy-efficient makeover

Solar panels
Relight my solar panels!
"You'll be able to sell any surplus energy you produce back to the grid, meaning your home could eventually pay for itself"
  • | by Emily Bater

The government's Green Deal scheme has been put on ice, but that doesn't mean homeowners should forget about energy efficiency altogether.

According to a recent recommendation from the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, homeowners should be offered new incentives such as discounts on stamp duty or council tax in return for improving their homes. 

But installing energy efficiency measures in your home can be done without the help of government initiatives. How's this for an incentive - a bit of investment could mean a drop in the cost of your gas and electricity bills.

Buy new stuff

Upgrading old appliances to newer models is an easy - if not necessarily cheap - way to make your home more energy efficient.

An ancient fridge which gets iced up quickly is probably using more electricity than a newer model, and not keeping your food as cold.

Modern flat-screen TVs are greener than old bulky models - and who needs an excuse to buy a new telly?

A cosy jumper for your home

Insulating your home is one of the most effective ways of saving energy - the less insulation your home has, the more heat escapes through the walls.

If your home was built between the 1920s and 1980s, it will probably be able to benefit from cavity wall insulation. Properties without cavity walls can often have external wall insulation instead.

Loft insulation is usually a straightforward process, so next time you're in the attic take a look around and assess your insulation.

If you choose to get insulation, going for added thickness probably won't set you back much more - you're already paying for the work to be done, after all.

Not a cuddly snake

There's no point in going to all the effort of installing insulation if you're going to let heat escape through pesky gaps.

Draught-proofing your home will block up gaps that let warm air out and cold air in, meaning you'll use less energy to heat your home.

You're most likely to find draughts around windows, doors, suspended floorboards and pipework which leads outside.

If you're a keen DIY-er then doing your own draught-proofing is fairly simple, but using a professional will ensure that the right materials are used.

Take back control

No matter what the age of your boiler, investing in new controls will allow you to heat your home in a more precise way.

You can decide what part of your house is heated, when it comes off and on and how warm you want each room to be. Installing a thermostat for each room, along with a programmer, could help you to be more conscious of your heating usage and save a few quid in the process.

You could also invest in a smart thermometer, which connects wirelessly to your boiler and can be controlled via a smartphone app.

These aren't to be confused with smart meters, which relay your real-time energy usage to your provider and are to be rolled out to homes across the UK by 2020.

It's been suggested recently that smart meters won't help customers make much of a saving on their bills; according to a government select committee, householders will save an average of just 2% on the typical fuel bill of £1,328.

Renewable technology

Investing in renewable technology for your home is a big commitment, and will depend on lots of factors, like location, budget and what you want to generate. Half a million British homes are now solarised, which makes solar by far the most popular renewable energy for homeowners.

With renewable technology, any electricity or heat generated goes straight into your home, meaning less reliance on energy companies. You don't have to be completely green, like some homes, but the more you invest in renewables the less you'll have to pay in the shape of bills.

You'll also be able to sell any surplus energy you produce back to the grid, meaning your home energy could eventually pay for itself.

All renewable technologies have a payback period, which means it'll take a certain amount of time for them to generate income and savings equal to the cost of installation.

An alternative to installing renewable technology in your own home is to join and invest in a community energy collective, which are popping up all over the country.


In a climate of seemingly never-ending price rises and lousy customer service, it's hardly surprising that more and more homeowners are abandoning the big six energy suppliers in favour of small firms.

Over the last six months, 71% of households that have switched energy provider have chosen deals from smaller brands, including Extra Energy, First Utility and Ovo Energy, according to research by's energy expert, Jeremy Cryer, said: "Consumers' preference for smaller energy providers over the last six months comes as no surprise, particularly as the UK's 'big six' suppliers have all failed to offer competitive tariffs during that time.

"If this continues, small energy providers are likely to benefit further from the consumer backlash against the energy giants."

However, only 15% of homeowners have switched supplier at all in the last 12 months.

With switching still taking on average two months - the government has made promises to speed it up soon - if you want to switch before those expensive winter fuel bills arrive, you need to do it now.

What energy-efficiency measures have you taken in your home? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter.