Choosing an energy-efficient home is not only better for the environment – it’s better for your wallet too. Five star householder David Wilson Homes has some expert advice for when you’re viewing potential properties. Here are some things you should be looking out for.
Good to know
All new-build properties have to comply with energy-efficiency regulations. That means they are built with superior insulation – ensuring the heat stays in and you use less energy to keep warm.
But what if the home you want to buy isn’t a new-build? You may want to make it more energy-efficient once you’ve moved in. And the improvements you make could well save you money on your bills.
Whatever you decide to do, consider an energy monitor, so you can see exactly how much energy you’re using up. With one of these handy gadgets, most people find they reduce their consumption by 5% to 15% in the first year. Switching energy supplier may also help to reduce your energy payments.
Homes that are south-facing will naturally absorb more heat and let in more light through their windows. This should definitely help keep your home warmer.
Does the boiler in the property need replacing? Boilers are rated from A to G, so take a really good look around. Ideally, you’ll want an A-rated one with an Energy Saving Trust logo.
In fact, installing an energy-efficient boiler could help lower your gas bills by around £200 a year. Smart heating gadgets can also help, allowing you to heat your home only when you need to – rather than just on a schedule. Set a temperature and your device will keep the home at that level, only turning the heat up when you decide. Both Hive and Nest are popular devices.
If your home isn’t insulated, you could lose 25% of its heat just through the roof. When you take a look at a potential property, try to take a sneaky look at the loft. Check how much insulation there is. Ideally, you’re looking for a depth of between 250mm to 270mm.
If there isn’t any insulation, you could potentially save between £120 and £225 – depending on the type of property – a year on your energy bills if you choose to install 270mm.
Windows and doors
Most homes these days have double glazing. Any that don’t typically lose 10% of their heat through windows and doors.
Replacing the windows and filling gaps to prevent draughts can be a good idea. So can hanging thick curtains to help prevent heat from escaping. New-build homes are usually pressure-tested – making them as air tight as possible.
Look out for trickle vented windows. ‘What are these?’ You ask. Well, they feature a slot as part of the frame, with a controllable cover or flap placed over it. When opened, the vent will allow air to gradually filter into your home. This means you can bring air in to circulate around your house without having to lose heat through fully open windows.
Not often thought about – but you can lose plenty of heat though your floors. Look out for big gaps between floorboards in older properties. You can fill gaps in both floorboards and skirting boards with ready-made adhesive or a rubber sealant – like Draughtex. Think about adding insulation underneath your floorboards too. If you do both, you could save around £40 every year on your energy bills.
Homes built from the 1990s and onwards typically have insulated walls. If your home doesn’t, a staggering third of its heat could escape. Adding insulation could save you between £70 and £225 annually – depending on the type of property.
Most homes in the UK are heated using radiators or through storage heaters. The difference between the two is that the former will use water to heat your home, and the latter is purely electric.
Which works out better economically will very much depend on the type of boiler you have and, of course, your utility rates.
Storage heaters can be particularly efficient because they collect their energy at night. The only drawback is that they work to a planned schedule, and don’t give you the option to turn your heating up as and when it’s needed.