With continuing rises in living costs and expected energy bill hikes as high as 50% in April, Pinnacle Works regularly speaks to clients exploring the options to make their homes greener and leaner.
There are massive benefits to making your property more efficient:
- Reducing utility costs
- Creating spaces that are easier to heat
- Increases in market value
- Accessing grants and support schemes
Let’s look at some of the most popular green home improvements, what you stand to save, and how it all works.
Updating Heating Systems to Reduce Utility Costs
Most properties rely on gas boilers to heat their rooms and water – but with gas prices getting ever steeper and the typical maintenance issues (and repair costs) to think about, a new heating system is a fantastic option. We’ve recently completed work on an eco-friendly exterior ground-source heat pump, encased in a beautiful outhouse with bespoke oak doors if you’d like some inspiration.
There are multiple advantages:
- Switching an old gas boiler for a condensing model or a ground-source or air-source heat pump makes your home more sustainable, reducing CO2 emissions by a huge 15-30%.
- If all UK properties replaced their gas boilers, energy bills nationwide would drop by £1.3 billion.
- Air-source pumps are reliable and continue generating heat in outside temperatures from an arctic -15 °C, so they are dependable and low-cost to run.
In terms of pricing, a new air-source pump system costs around £7,000 to £11,000 on average, making it a big investment. However, you could save from £295 to £1,805 every year, with a system paying for itself in around six years.
If you’re interested in swapping your gas boiler for something more efficient, keep an eye out for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, due to launch in spring 2022. The initiative will offer upfront capital grants for homeowners to cover the costs of a heat pump.
Harnessing Natural Energy Through Solar Panels
Solar panels are one of the best-known eco-friendly upgrades, but they can take several years to pay back the investment.
The positive is that once you’ve fitted your solar panels, you can wave goodbye to huge electricity charges. If you have an aspect that soaks up a good amount of solar energy, you might find yourself living sustainably off the grid altogether. Fitting a new set of solar panels will set you back around £4,800 on average, but the perks include:
- Utility cost savings of £165 to £440 a year based on typical household usage.
- Income generated from selling excess power back to the grid.
- Reliable electricity, with solar panels generating power even on dull days..
Warming Your Home With Quality Insulation
One of the main reasons energy bills become so costly is that homes are not insulated properly – so the heating remains on around the clock because the chill sets in the second the boiler turns off.
Insulation is one of the most affordable ways to make a home greener, and you can look at:
- Replacing loft insulation.
- Boosting cavity wall insulation.
- Investing in underfloor insulation or heating.
The exact cost of fitting new, quality insulation depends on where the work is required and the size of your property, but simply insulating your loft adequately will save an average of £315 a year.
Underfloor Heating to Keep Your Toes Cosy
Underfloor heating is a wonderful addition to an eco-friendly home that is a joy to live in. It’s more discreet than blocky radiators or wall-mounted heaters and can be retrofitted to older homes as well as installed in new builds.
Heating pipes laid under your flooring use between 15% and 40% less energy than a conventional radiator, and the broad surface area means you can set your thermostat lower for the same level of warmth.
Effective Lighting With Energy-Efficient Bulbs
Light bulbs might not seem to make the biggest dent in your electricity bill, but the reality is that if you replaced every halogen bulb in your home with an LED light, you’d instantly knock off £40 a year from your running costs.
Energy-efficient alternatives are so much cheaper to use, better for the environment, and a priority for people wanting to live sustainably. You’ll also find that LED bulbs are cheaper to buy and last significantly longer than their counterparts – so you make a saving twice over.
The big benefit is to our planet – if every home in Britain switched to 100% LED bulb usage, we’d cut our carbon emissions by an impressive 1.7 million tonnes.
Controlling Energy Usage With a Smart Meter
As the winter starts to bite, it’s easy to be tempted to leave the heating running – which contributes to excessive energy usage and booming living costs. A smart meter is a simple, effective way to keep an eye on what you’re using and when.
For example, if you’re out of the house at work during the day, and the kids are at school, you can programme your meter to switch off when you leave and back on before you return, so your home is always warm – but only when you need it to be. If you’re concerned about your carbon footprint or your energy bills, knowing how you consume electricity can help you make good choices, such as only running the washing machine when you have a full load.
Smart meters work best when they come with a timer and thermostat and are equally useful for gas or oil central heating systems if you’re taking your eco-friendly renovation one step at a time. A timer, thermostatic radiator valves and a room thermostat will save the average three-bedroom property from £70 and 300 kg of carbon emissions every 12 months.
Replacing Old Glazing and Updating Window Frames
Double or triple glazing can work wonders to reduce the flow of heat that escapes through thin, single glazed glass panels that do nothing to contribute to an efficient home.
Families serious about being green can also opt for durable, professionally fitted wooden frames instead of UPVC to avoid the toxic compound emissions and pollution associated with plastics. Excellent quality glazing can reduce heat loss by a whopping 30% and save £110 to £140 a year on heating costs.
Reducing Water Consumption
Our final suggestion is to think about water usage – because, although your water bill might not sting as much as other utilities, you’re still using heating and electricity systems to warm the water you use and send it through your pipework.
Only boiling as much water as you need, investing in an eco-kettle, or upgrading to those incredible smart taps means you’ll use less electricity and avoid unnecessary water wastage. A low-flow shower head is also a great idea, which uses less energy while being just as powerful.
Adding Value to Your Property Through Green Energy Upgrades
We’ve mentioned a few indicative costs and savings to give a rough idea about the financial benefits of making your home more eco-friendly – but there is a tangible economic advantage that goes far beyond your household bills.
Whenever you sell a property or rent one out, you must present the buyer or tenant with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Your assigned rating indicates how efficient your home is and, therefore, what it will cost to run. A recent survey shows that 55% of homeowners want to make sustainable changes to the way they live, and 33% of buyers consider the EPC rating very important. While a higher energy rating might not seem like a pivotal selling point, in 2021, a better EPC added a £40,000 premium to sustainable property selling prices.
Even if it takes a few years to repay a green investment through your utility bills, it’s also adding value back elsewhere.
For more information about any of these eco-friendly home ideas or advice on the best projects to tackle your green property upgrade, please get in touch with the Pinnacle Works team. Our experienced, friendly team can recommend sustainable swaps that will pay the best dividends in energy costs and make your home warmer, greener, and easier to sell in the future.