Improving the energy efficiency of your home
Posted 9 September 2015 by Keith Osborne
With fuel bills among the most significant outgoings for homeowners, creating an energy-efficient home has never been more important. If you are looking to sell up and make a move to a new home, increasing your energy efficiency is a great way to make the property appealing to buyers.
The first task is to ensure that your home is properly insulated. There is no point spending a fortune insulating the home only to watch the energy escape. Warm air always rises, so the first step is to check the loft insulation. Lay some if it isn't there, or think about replacing it if it is old and worn. Secondly, you need to insulate the pipes and the water tank.
Finally, install an insulated loft hatch and place strips of insulating material around the edges of the trapdoor to stop icy drafts blowing through to the upstairs part of the house. The Energy Saving Trust has calculated that these alterations alone could save the average householder £190 a year.
A third of all energy is lost directly through the walls, which means that cavity and solid wall insulation is an important consideration if you are energy proofing your home, although this might not be such a pressing issue if you have a newer house. Most properties built from the 1990s onwards have wall insulation as a standard feature.
You will need to check whether your home has cavity walls. As a rule of thumb, homes built before 1930 tend to be cavity, and homes thereafter tend to have solid walls. Cavity walls always have a regular brick-pattern, but solid walls have an alternating pattern with different rows of bricks laid in a different way.
It might not seem like a lot, but every year, uninsulated floorboards will cost approximately £60 in lost heat, and while getting a professional tradesman in to fit the insulation might be expensive (up to £500) there is a cheaper, if less comprehensive alternative. Use filler and make sure that there are no gaps in the skirting boards around the house - the small holes that exist are channels for cold air to enter your home and warm air to leave it.
Older homes will often have suspended timber floorboards, and it is normally a good idea to have insulation installed under these - this is particularly good for the environment as saves 240 kilograms of carbon per year.
Another £60 a year can be saved by general draught-proofing around the house. This is someone you won't need a tradesman for as it can be done quickly and at very little cost. You can buy a wide range of draught exclusion materials from your local DIY superstore, including a flap for the keyhole, insulation strips for the edges of the door, a draught excluder for the bottom gap and an airtight letterbox cover. If you have rooms in the house you don't normally heat, the doors to these will need to be insulated too, making sure that cold air in the property is kept in one place.