Ensuring that our homes and offices are as energy efficient as possible has always been important, in reducing energy wastage and ensuring a high standard of living. With 2022 seeing significant rises in the cost of energy, it is all the more essential that we focus on efficiency to make sure that we benefit as much as we can from the energy we use.
Methods of ensuring energy and thermal efficiency range from small, easily implemented actions to much larger and more involved choices. As well as ensuring we get the most out of the power we consume, many of these actions can also help us reduce energy consumption in the long run and help us on our way to a net zero future.
Read on for more from the Institute on the best ways to ensure your home is energy and thermally efficient, as well as an excerpt from our accredited Energy Efficiency in Buildings course.
These tips can be carried out easily and with minimal time or money required. Even just making small changes to your everyday actions and habits can increase energy efficiency in the long run.
1. Make small changes to everyday behaviour
- Adopt habits such as switching off lights and appliances when not in use.
- Choose to air-dry clothes if possible, instead of using dryers.
- Avoid leaving the heating on all day but heat rooms for a couple of hours at a time.
- Keep doors closed to keep heat in and minimise drafts.
- Make a habit of looking out for the most energy efficient version when replacing appliances and electronics. For example, eco kettles can keep water hotter much longer than traditional kettles.
2. Maximise your existing set-up
- It is important to make sure that existing appliances and fittings are working to the best of their ability. For example, ensure that boilers are serviced and maintained regularly to maximise efficiency. This will also help to increase the life expectancy of your appliances.
- Insulate hot water pipes; if you have a hot water tank, you can also insulate these with cylinder jackets. Approximately 17% of domestic energy consumption in the UK is used for hot water heating. Therefore insulating hot water tanks will mean that less of the heat being created leaks out into the surrounding area.
- Minimise drafts, whether this is under doors or through windows. Purchase draft excluders for a small cost or try your hand at making them yourself.
- Request a smart meter. In most cases, these can be provided free of charge by energy providers and can be switched over between providers. This will help identify any areas in the home that are using excess power and improve awareness of overall energy consumption.
3. Swap to more energy efficient alternatives
- Switch all lightbulbs to LEDs, which use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if every home in Britain swapped all of its bulbs to LEDs, we would save 1.7 million tonnes of CO2 a year. These bulbs also last a lot longer than other alternatives and so can save money in the long run. Remember that you can also swap out bulbs in appliances, such as ovens.
- Invest in heavy curtains or well-fitting blinds for windows and make sure that you close these as soon as it gets dark each day.
Invest in Energy Efficiency
The following actions do require more time and money and in many cases are a significant investment. It may take a few years to see the economic benefits, but short-term will have a marked impact on the energy efficiency of a home.
Remember that grants are available in certain countries to help with the cost of improving energy efficiency. For example, the UK Government has introduced the Home Upgrade Grant which aims to spend £950 million over the next 3 years on improving energy efficiency in homes across England. Contact your local representatives to see what grants might be available to you.
1. Improve Insulation
- Especially in older homes, insulation can often be lacking. According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), one third of heat in homes is lost through walls. Adding insulation to walls and roof spaces will reduce the amount of heat lost significantly and in the long run will pay for itself. EST advises that you will recoup the money spent on this within 5 years.
- There are various types of insulation you can look into, depending on the type, size and age of the property. Some of these options include cavity wall insulation, placed into existing gaps, or external wall insulation which is constructed around the exterior of a building.
- Consider adding insulation to floors, as 15% of heat is lost through floors. 
2. Invest in Green Technology
- Adding solar panels to your home or swapping to an air source heat pump can significantly improve the energy efficiency of your home and bring down your energy costs in the long term.
- Underfloor heating is also an effective way to increase thermal efficiency in your home. As underfloor heating emits more radiant heat than heaters (50% as opposed to 10%), you will feel warmer and in turn can lower the temperature by a degree or two for the same effect.
- Invest in double glazing at least, if not triple glazing. Newer types of glazing, such as argon filled, can be even more efficient. If you live in a listed building and have fewer options to change existing windows, you can always look into secondary double glazing.
There are so many ways in which to improve the energy efficiency of a building, even if only by a small amount. If some of the tips above seem out of reach at the moment, there are always smaller actions that can be taken as a first step. Again, make sure to engage with local councils to see if there are any grants available to you.
If you would like to learn more about the numerous ways you can ensure your home is more efficient, consider enrolling on the Energy Efficiency Consultant Expert Certificate. You will benefit from expert-led teaching as seen in the clip below, taken from our accredited Energy Efficiency in Buildings course.
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