There are various steps you can take to live a greener life, from growing your own vegetables to properly insulating your home. Every move you make to support the environment will have a positive impact on your carbon footprint - and help you save money too!
Energy Performance Certificates
When selling your home you are required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate. This provides tenants and buyers with information about how energy efficient the property is, and recommends ways to reduce energy consumption.
As of April 2018, it is unlawful to let a property that does not meet the new energy efficiency standard. The regulations ensure all properties meet the minimum standard for non-domestic buildings, set at an ‘E’ EPC rating. You can find out more about the current standards in our guide on how to get an EPC.
Advantages of eco-friendly improvements
Even if your property's EPC rating complies with the law, there are still many advantages to further improving the energy efficiency of your home.
High return: Although eco-friendly projects often have large initial outlays they generally keep returning for years to come. An obvious example of this is solar panels as these are great sources of free power and a good investment when oil, gas and electrical prices continue to rise.
Reduced energy bills: Many eco-friendly improvements cut energy bills, such as installing Economy 7 heaters.
Unobtrusive: A lot of eco-improvements do not change the visual interior of the house but remain in the background, such as cavity wall insulation.
How to cut your energy costs
Look for energy efficient appliances
With everyone looking to live a littler ‘greener’ and do their bit for the environment, it’s important to consider the appliances you use in your everyday life if you want to create an energy efficient home and cut your energy costs.
Fridge-freezers, tumble dryers and washing machines make up the majority of your electrical bill, but upgrading to an energy efficient appliance could significantly reduce your costs. When you purchase your white goods and appliances, make sure you look for the product with the best energy rating, typically A+ and above.
Did you know? Opting for an ECO kettle and only boiling the amount of water you need uses 20% less energy than a standard kettle.
Turn it off
Even purchasing the most energy efficient appliances may not be enough to make a significant difference to your utility bills alone. It’s well known that leaving televisions and radios on standby still uses a lot of energy, so breaking the habit and turning your electrical goods off at the mains is another step in running an energy efficient household.
Making small changes, like unplugging your phone charger when you're not using it or turning your television off properly at night, can end up saving you a significant amount of money each year.
It’s not just electricity you need to be conscious of either, as running water and dripping taps can also have a big impact on the amount of energy you use. Reduce the time you spend in the shower each day, wash the dishes using a washing-up bowl and turn the tap off whilst you brush your teeth – you’ll be on your way to cutting your energy costs in no time.
Energy saving lightbulbs
Did you know? Replacing the light fittings in your home with energy saving light bulbs can save you over £100 a year.
As lighting accounts for a large majority of your electricity bill, fitting energy saving light bulbs is a great way of cutting this cost. Bear in mind that you can maximise the energy efficiency in your home by turning lights off when you leave a room and being conscious of how many lights you have on at one time.
Replace windows and doors
You may think you’ve mastered your energy-saving techniques by employing the above changes to your home, but all of your efforts for a greener way of life will go to waste if you don’t ensure your house is properly insulated.
Heat is most commonly lost through cracks in the walls, ill-fitting windows and draughty doors, so make sure you take the necessary measures to prevent heat from escaping. Replace old windows and doors if you can, and ensure you fit double-glazed windows to maximise your efforts. The Energy Saving Trust recommends using a registered installer for any installation work.
If you’re unable to fit new fixtures, then look at other ways you can draught-proof your home. Covering open keyholes with escutcheons, securing a letterbox flap or brush to your door and fitting foam or wiper stripes around windows are all effective ways you can keep the heat in your home and cut your energy costs.
Insulate your loft
While you might not be up their often, installing the right insulation in your loft can dramatically improve your energy efficiency and the overall temperature of your home. It’s a space that’s often used for storing suitcases and other belongings in the house, but it’s a common place that gets forgotten about when it comes to trying to improve your carbon footprint.
Did you know? The Energy Saving Trust suggests that uninsulated houses lose a quarter of heat through the roof. An average three-bed semi could save up to £145 a year by fitting standard DIY store bought roof insulation.
If you’re improving the insulation in your loft, remember to consider your wall and floor insulation too, as these are also areas of concern when it comes to heat escaping the home.
Switch energy suppliers
Switching energy suppliers can be one of the quickest and easiest ways of reducing the cost of your household bills. New tariffs come onto the market every few months and energy providers are always offering deals to encourage you to switch.
If you’re using the same energy provider you’ve always used, then it may be time to do some research and look for a better deal.
Heating and hot water control
While you might be tempted to crank the heating up to a subtropical climate when you’re feeling cold, remember that by turning your thermostat down by just one degree can save you around £80 per year.
Turning your heating off or keeping it on a constant low temperature is an argument that’s been long debated. But while it does use more energy to bring your house up to temperature after the heating has been switched off, you will end up using more fuel if you leave it on 24/7.
Programming your thermostat to come on and off at set times in the day and only heating the areas of your home that need heating are quick ways to save energy and keep costs down.
Similarly, it may be tempting to wash in a scolding hot shower, but reducing the temperature can have an instant effect on your energy bills – this also applies to the water you use for washing up and the temperature at which you set your washing machine cycle.
ECO shower heads are available which reduce the water use and aerate the flow. This means your shower will still feel strong, but less water will need to be heated.
Reduce, reuse and recycle
Whilst it might not have a direct impact on your bills, recycling is an excellent way of saving energy and improving your environmental impact. Households in the UK produce tonnes of waste every year, carelessly throwing away items that could be recycled and reused.
Did you know? By recycling one tin can you could save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours, and by recycling one glass bottle you could save enough energy to power a computer for nearly half an hour.
Consciously thinking about the environment is another step towards improving the energy efficiency in your house – even removals companies can recycle your packaging if you’ve recently moved home.
If your conscientious about living a greener way of life and seriously want to reduce the cost of running your home, then it might be time to start putting these top tips to the test and caring for the environment at the same time.
Updated February 2020