Introduction to energy efficiency in the UK

Energy efficiency plays a significant role in UK housing and potential homebuyers will often reject a property because of substandard qualities. So, what exactly is energy efficiency?

Essentially, energy efficiency is all about using less power for the same result. For instance, an inefficient boiler will cost more to run and heat your home to 20ºC than a modern A-rated replacement. It’s worth noting, energy efficiency is different to energy conservation. Energy conservation is a physical act, such as turning down the thermostat.

In order to improve energy efficiency in the home, you should expect some financial outlay. However, it’s important to remember energy efficient measures will pay you back in the coming years, thanks to the savings. This is an attractive option both financially and for the environment, by reducing CO2 emissions.

In the UK, the most effective energy efficiency measures include insulation, draught proofing and double glazed windows. Switching to energy saving light bulbs is also highly recommended. And with government targets of reducing CO2 emissions from homes by 24% by 2030, it’s important to act now.

Why is energy efficiency so important?

Energy efficiency is extremely important and even the Government are under pressure to reduce the UK’s total carbon emissions. There are two core reasons to pay more attention to your home’s efficiency:

Save money. According to the Money Advice Service, the average annual gas bill for 2018 was £676, or £56.33 each month. That was a 3.1% rise compared to the prices for 2017. For 2018, the average electricity bill per year was £699, or £58.25 per month. This was an increase of 7.2% from 2017. With prices on the rise, any way of cutting down monthly costs can help.

Help the environment. By using less energy in the home, you’ll help reduce the gas, coal and oil that are burnt to provide your fuel. This is saving precious resources, whilst cutting back on the level of pollution.

The Government has a long-term plan to combat carbon emissions in the UK and plans to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050. In 2017, the Government released data which showed that direct CO2 emissions from homes has decreased by 18% since 1990. This was largely thanks to UK households having installed 182,300 heat pumps and 976,197 solar panels by 2017. These are just two of the ways you can reduce your household emissions. With increased energy efficiency you’ll do your own bit to help the environment and reduce your carbon footprint.


Wall, loft & floor insulation

All insulation is designed to keep your home warm and protect your property from cold weather. As such, homeowners tend to consider insulation in the months leading up to winter. There are extra benefits for investing in insulation though, which ensure it’s worthwhile all year round. This includes reducing sound pollution, so your home is quieter.

New homes are typically built with excellent insulation already in place, so realistically it’s older properties that’ll have a problem when it comes to retaining heat. However, it’s easy to address these problems unless your property was built pre-1920 (when solid walls were popular).

Cavity wall insulation

Your property’s walls are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to heat loss. In fact, uninsulated walls will lose a third of the heat produced. What a waste of money! This is natural though, because heat will travel faster between a warm environment to a cool one. So the colder the temperature is outside, the more heat that’ll be lost.

Properties built after 1990 will have some level of wall insulation in place, but those prior to this could be totally exposed. Again, if your home was built after 1920, it’s likely to have cavity walls.

Cavity walls are constructed from two walls with a gap between. This is the cavity and it’s this space that’ll be filled with insulation. Once insulation has been professionally installed, heat won’t be able to pass through your walls and escape the home.

Cavity Wall InsulationDetachedSemi detachedMid terraceBungalowFlat
Annual Saving£240£145£95£100£75
Installation Cost£720£475£370£430£330
Payback TimeThree YearsFour YearsFour YearsFive YearsFour Years
CO2 Saving Each Year1040kg600kg395kg410kg325kg

All savings figures in the tables throughout this guide are from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest data.

Solid wall insulation

If your home doesn’t have cavity walls, you’ll have solid walls instead. Just as with cavity walls, you’ll be losing plenty of heat if they’re uninsulated. However, for those with solid walls the situation is worse as twice the amount of heat can escape.

Solid walls are likely to impact those with properties built prior to 1920. After this point, cavity walls were favoured. There are a few ways to determine if your walls are solid or cavity.

Measuring them is one possibility and any width less than 260mm is likely to be a solid wall. You can measure the width best by a window or door. Of course, you could also instruct an expert to help determine if your home has solid walls.

Insulation for solid walls can be fitted internally or externally. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, but as you can see, external wall insulation seems to be a better option all round.

Internal wall insulation:

  • Is a typically cheaper option
  • Will reduce floor space slightly
  • Can be disruptive to home life
  • Requires fittings such as skirting boards to be removed.

External wall insulation:

  • Is more expensive
  • Won’t reduce floor space
  • Fills external cracks and draughts
  • Reduces condensation
  • Improves weather proofing
  • Enhances sound proofing benefits.
Solid Wall InsulationDetachedSemi detachedMid terraceBungalowFlat
Annual Saving£460£270£180£180£150
Annual CO2 Saving1,900kg1,100kg700kg800kg600kg

All savings figures in the tables throughout this guide are from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest data.

Loft & roof insulation

Heat naturally rises and as such, it makes sense to insulate your loft and roof to keep warmth inside. No matter the type of roof your property has, insulation will be effective for more than four decades, paying for itself many times over.

Of course, prices will vary dependent on how easy your loft space is to access. If there are no damp problems and access is straightforward, the loft will be easy to insulate and you can even do this yourself.

It’s worth noting that if your loft suffers from any damp problems, it’s important to have these resolved first. Insulation will cause your loft to become a cooler space so damp will only worsen. Professionals will help you tackle damp issues.

For fitting loft insulation, rolls of mineral wool will be used to fill the space between roof joists and another layer to cover these joists. Any competent DIYer will feel comfortable tackling this job without the help of a professional.

Nowadays, lofts are used as excellent extra storage space and if this is your plan, you’ll need to board over the joists after insulation is first laid. Just be sure not to squash the insulation, as this will reduce its quality.

If your loft is inaccessible, this is when matters become a little more complicated and you’ll need to seek the help of an industry expert. Insulation can be blown into the loft space using specialist equipment and this can be completed in just a few hours.

Loft Insulation (0-270mm)Detached houseSemi detached houseMid terrace houseDetached bungalow
Annual Saving£250£150£140£200
Installation Cost£395£300£140£200
CO2 Saving Annually1,000kg620kg580kg830kg

All savings figures in the tables throughout this guide are from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest data.

Floor Insulation

Heat is lost from your home in a variety of ways and surprisingly for many; the floorboards can be big culprits in this too. Floor insulation can help you save up to £70 each year and there’s the potential to reduce bills even more by plugging the gaps around skirting boards. Larger properties can hope to save the most.

The latter is reasonably straightforward for any home DIYer. All you’ll need is a tube of sealant bought from a DIY store. Just be sure not to block under floor airbricks, as floorboards can rot without adequate ventilation.

If you’re considering floor insulation, it’s an easier task for those with older properties. The timber boards can simply be lifted and insulation placed underneath. New homes tend to have solid concrete floors though, in which case rigid insulation will need to be laid on top.

Typically, you’ll only need to insulate downstairs flooring as this has unheated space below. The only time upstairs flooring will need insulating is when the room is above a garage.

Out of the main insulating measures, floor insulation is probably the easiest for those not seeking the help of a professional. For starters, sealing any gaps between skirting boards and floorboards will only cost between £10 and £15. You’ll just need a sealant gun.

When lifting the floorboards to fit insulation underneath, ensure to check for signs of damp or rot. You’ll want the floorboards in as good of a condition as possible before sealing them down.

Solid Floor InsulationDetached HomeSemi Detached HomeMid Terrace HomeBungalow
Approximate Annual Saving£75-£95£45-£60£35-£45£70-£80
Approximate Annual CO2 Saving1050kg620kg580kg830kg

Suspended Timber Floor InsulationDetached HomeSemi Detached HomeMid Terrace HomeBungalow
Approximate Annual Saving£100-£120£60-£75£45-£60£75-£90
Approximate Annual CO2 Saving110kg65kg60kg95kg

Insulating your windows

Windows and doors contribute to a significant amount of your home’s heat loss. In fact, single pane windows can lose a a significant amount of your property’s warmth, and you could be wasting hundreds of pounds every year. Even double glazing over 15-years-old will have lost the majority of its energy efficiency and heat will be escaping.

There are plenty of reasons to upgrade your windows:

  • Enjoy cheaper energy bills
  • Produce a smaller carbon footprint
  • Have a more comfortable home with no draughts or cold spots
  • Reduce noise pollution and keep your home in peace and quiet
  • Minimise condensation build-up.

Costs and savings for replacement windows will vary from home to home and are dependent on factors such as frame material and size. The energy saving calculator on the Glass and Glazing Federation’s website should give you a better idea of potential savings.

Window frame materials

When replacing your windows, there are three frame materials to consider:

uPVC frames:. The nation’s favourite. These have a number of excellent attributes such as being weather resistant, hardwearing and durable. uPVC is the cheapest option for your window panes too.

Wooden frames. An environmentally friendly option with fantastic aesthetic appeal. However, wooden frames will require increased maintenance to keep them in tip-top condition.

Aluminium frames. The most expensive of the three, yet with the price comes incredible strength and resistance. Aluminium frames won’t rot, warp, crack or peel.

When deciding on replacement windows, look to the energy rating for guidance. Windows are rated from A-G, with A being the most efficient and G the least. Both the frame and glass are incorporated in the energy rating, which is governed by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC).

What if I live in a Conversation Area?

Conservation areas are regions of national heritage and protected by local councils to ensure they maintain their original appeal. As such, property owners in conservation areas will struggle to have planning permission approved for a variety of renovations. This can include double glazing and other replacement windows. However, it is possible to resemble the original windows so speak to a local planning officer for more information.

Double glazing

Double glazed windows are superb insulators and can save you money every year. Because of their fantastic energy saving qualities, double glazing is the standard in new build homes.

Double glazing is aptly named, with two sheets of glass installed and separated only be an energy efficient gas spacer. The gas spacer tends to be one of Argon, Xenon or Krypton, with Argon typically the most popular. Not all double glazing windows are the same, so always be on the lookout for the BFRC rating between A and G.

With double glazing:

Slash your heating bills

The main reason for installing double glazing is the opportunity to significantly reduce energy bills. Energy bills have been on the rise for the last few years and better insulating your home is the best way to avoid extreme costs. With double glazing you can save over £200 annually.

Reduce carbon dioxide emissions

By improving energy efficiency you’ll be helping the environment by cutting CO2 emissions. Carbon is released when fossil fuels are burnt. With better insulation, your home won’t require as much heat, thereby fewer emissions are released.

Enjoy a warmer property

Double glazing not only prevents heat escaping your home. It also eliminates draughts and cold spots, ensuring a warmer and more comfortable environment for you to enjoy.

Keep your home in peace and quiet

Double glazing’s efficient qualities aren’t just useful for reducing energy bills. In the same way double glazing will retain heat, it’ll also keep sound out. Noise pollution can’t pass through the motionless gas spacer, so you’ll have a quieter home.

Energy RatingDetached homeSemi detached homeMid terrace homeBungalowFlat
A rated£130-£175£90-£120£80-£105£60-£80£50-£65
B rated£120-£160£80-£110£70-£95£50-£70£40-£60
C rated£120-£150£80-£105£70-£90£50-£65£45-£55

All savings figures in the tables throughout this guide are from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest data.

Secondary glazing

Secondary glazing is a cheaper option to double glazed windows, but it won’t have the same level of energy saving qualities and money saving possibilities. You can save up to £100 annually with secondary glazing and it’s often recommended for conservation area homes and listed buildings.

Secondary glazing is essentially a second pane fitted to the inside of your original glazing. This means the exterior appeal doesn’t change, which is why councils often don’t have a problem.

If you’re on a budget, there’s also the option of fitting thin, transparent plastic film to the windows. This can be done yourself, so there’s not the expense of hiring a contractor. It looks similar to cling-film but when fitted it should be wrinkle-free and almost invisible.

Understanding U Values

The U Value is often mentioned when referring to a window’s energy efficiency. In layman’s terms, it’s the measurement of heat that can escape or be retained. Whilst the Window Energy Rating (WER) gives you a good idea on a scale of A-G, the U Value is a more accurate calculation.

The U Value calculates the rate in which heat will pass through a particular unit. This is known as thermal transmittance and the lower the U Value, the better the window’s efficiency. This is measured in W/m²K (Watts per square metre, per degree Kelvin).

The energy performance of your windows can be ascertained with heat loss and heat gain. Free heat can be gained from the sun, which passes through the window and is absorbed by internal fixtures. This is short wave radiation. Once heat transfers to long wave radiation it’ll try to escape your home through the windows, roof, doors, floors and walls.

This is why double glazing windows have a lower U Value as the energy efficient spacer blocks heat and prevents it from escaping.


Upgrade your heating

When it comes to energy bills, heating plays a large role in the annual cost and accounts for about 55% of your total domestic bill. That’s exactly why replacement boilers make a huge difference to your expenditure and there’s the potential to save over £300 each year.

Replacing your boiler

Modern boilers are typically condensing, which is why they hold efficient qualities. An older, well maintained boiler can burn fuel efficiently, however a lot of heat is lost in the flue. Condensing boilers have a larger heat exchanger, so they recover more heat and only allow cooler gas to escape.

This cool gas can cause water vapour (condensation), which is why condensing boilers are named so. Further energy can be recovered from the vapour so efficiency levels are even higher.

If you want to save more money on your heating bills, switching to gas will be a cheaper option if possible. Electric and oil fuelled boilers typically cost much more to run.

There are a few types of boiler to consider. Older boilers tend to store water in a tank in the loft or airing cupboard, whereas combination (combi) boilers can provide hot water directly and fit on the wall or in a kitchen cupboard. A combi boiler is your most efficient option, but won’t be suitable for everyone.

Old Boiler RatingSemi Detached HomeDetached HomeBungalowMid Terrace HomeMid Floor Flat

Data from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest figures.

Thermostats & controls

Whilst replacing your boiler will significantly increase energy efficiency, you should also consider the thermostats and controls in your home. With the right controls for your home’s heating you’ll enjoy a more comfortable home without wasting fuel.

For those with electric storage heaters it makes sense to charge them up overnight during off-peak times, and then distribute heat evenly throughout the day.

If you’re on gas though, you’ll want to have control over the boiler with a thermostat, timer or programmer. You can even invest in individual room thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs).

Boilers of any age can be programmed with specific controls and with these you can heat up only the room you’re using, whilst setting dedicated times for your heating or hot water to come on.

If you already have controls fitted for your boiler, also consider turning the temperature down by just one degree.The Energy Saving Trust say this could reduce your bills by £75 each year whilst cutting carbon emissions by 310kg.

Boiler controls can be fitted without upgrading your full central heating, although of course it’d be cheaper to replace the boiler at the same time. This is especially the case if you have an aging boiler, particularly over 15-years-old.

Boiler jackets and pipe insulation

By investing in pipe insulation and lagging, you’ll help to reduce heat loss and ensure hot water stays hot for a longer period of time. Out of all the options for improving energy efficiency outlined in this guide, insulating the hot water cylinder and surrounding pipes is by far the easiest.

Your water tank may already have a jacket, but you’ll want it to be a thickness of at least 75mm. With one in place, heat loss from the water tank is reduced by 75% and you could save between £20 and £35 annually. Considering the jacket will only cost around £15, you’ll make your money back in the first year alone.

Pipe insulation is also straightforward to fit and the foam cylinder simply slips around any exposed pipes. Just as with the jacket, insulation will keep the water in your pipes warmer for longer.

Annual SavingDIY CostTime Taken To Pay for ItselfCarbon Dioxide Saving Per Year
Hot water tank top-up insulation (25-80mm)£20-£35£15Six months90kg-120kg
Hot water tank jacket on an uninsulated tank£85-£130£15Less than six months400kg-570kg
Pipe insulation£10£20Two years45kg
Solar Panels

Create your own energy

Most homeowners and tenants will buy all their energy from a national supplier. These include Npower, E.ON, British Gas, SSE, Scottish Power and EDF.

This is all well and good, but by tying yourself to an energy firm you’ll be at their mercy when it comes to increasing costs. It’s not rare for the big suppliers to raise prices, even when the cost of wholesale gas and electricity isn’t on the up.

The alternative to this is renewables. Generating your own energy with renewable power has certainly become more popular over the last decade. With a host of Government schemes and incentives to support renewables, there has never been a better time to invest.

With renewable energy there are plenty of benefits to get you interested:

  • Reduce energy bills by hundreds of pounds
  • Earn tax-free Government payments
  • Receive a grant for the installation of technology
  • Become environmentally friendly by reducing greenhouse gases
  • Remove your dependence on National Grid power.

Before we go into more detail on the types of renewable technology to invest in, it’s worth reading the following pointers. With renewable energy you’ll pay an upfront cost for the installation and then payback the cost with savings made in the following years. As such, it makes sense to ensure your home is as efficient as possible.

This includes renovating your home and taking our advice from the topics discussed above. This includes fitting (where appropriate):

  • Wall insulation
  • Floor insulation
  • Loft insulation
  • Replacement windows
  • A boiler upgrade.

You should also check local council regulations governing your home. Most renewable technology is classified as ‘permitted development’, so you won’t need to request permission. This is completely different for properties in conservation areas or listed buildings. If you’re unsure of regulations in your local area, just seek the advice of a local planning officer.

Solar PV

The chances are you’ve seen solar panels installed on a property nearby.

Solar panels are typically installed on a rooftop and are most effective when facing south or southwest. Whilst they’ll reduce your bills if angled in a different direction, the saving potential isn’t as great.

Solar PV (different to solar thermal panels, which will be explained later), work by capturing the sun’s heat rays and converting the energy into electricity. This can then be used to power your electrical appliances and lighting.

Benefits include:

Reducing electricity bills:

Solar panels produce free electricity by utilising a natural resource. As such, you won’t be reliant on the National Grid and will reduce annual spending by hundreds of pounds.

Earning a fixed income:

The Government’s feed-in tariff scheme is designed as an incentive for those considering solar power. It pays out for every single unit of renewable electricity generated.

Sell excess electricity:

Solar panels operate during daylight hours, when the sun is visible. For many homeowners, this means PV systems are producing power when they’re at work. This electricity isn’t wasted though and is instead sold to your energy supplier at a fixed rate.

Slash carbon emissions:

Solar panels are an eco-friendly technology. With them installed you’ll decrease your carbon footprint and lower emissions.

Annual Income from feed-in tariff*£479
Annual Energy Bill Savings£94
Annual Income from National Grid£82
Annual CO2 Saving1.512 tonnes
Annual Total Income£655

Data from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest figures.

*This feed-in tariff rate is calculated on the Government’s payments between January 1 and March 31. The Government reviews payments quarterly. Once solar panels are installed and you have locked onto the feed-in tariff, you’ll receive the fixed rate for 20 years.

Solar thermal panels

Solar thermal panels are similar to the above mentioned solar PV, except for one significant difference. They provide heat for hot water rather than generate electricity. Solar thermal panels are often used in conjunction with the central heating, so water can be made hotter and will act as a back-up if required.

Thermal panels use collectors, which are fitted to your rooftop. They collect heat from the sun and this is stored in a hot water cylinder. Solar thermal panels come in the form of evacuated tubes or flat plate collectors.

As with solar PV, there are plenty of benefits for installing thermal panels. This includes benefitting from:

Cheaper heating bills:

By using a natural resource you won’t need to pay for National Grid power. This ensures you won’t be affected as much when national energy suppliers increase gas and electricity prices.

Hot water all year round:

Solar thermal works throughout the year, although during winter months especially you’ll need the immersion heater to top-up the temperature.

Earn from a Government incentive:

The Renewable Heat Incentive pays out to those generating their own heat. Those who qualify enjoy a fixed rate for seven years, providing an opportunity to payback your initial investment.

Reduce your carbon footprint:

Solar thermal panels are an eco-friendly option and will reduce your home’s carbon emissions and cut your footprint on the world. The sun is a natural resource and as such, fossil fuels aren’t burnt to provide your home’s heat.

Existing Heating SystemAnnual SavingsCO2 SavingsRHI Payments

Biomass boilers

Another renewable option for your home are biomass boilers. Otherwise known as wood pellet boilers and burners, biomass systems burn environmentally friendly products to provide heat for your home.

A stove can provide heat for an individual room, whilst a boiler will heat your whole house through the central heating. There are plenty of savings to make too and the biomass boiler can reduce bills.

Benefits for adopting a biomass boiler are threefold. These include:

Reducing heating bills:

Biomass fuel is cheaper than gas, electricity, oil or any other fuel used to heat your property. Wood pellets and chips can be bought in bulk to save money, so just ensure you have a dedicated storage place.

Government incentives:

Biomass boilers are also eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive. This guarantees an income for seven years and helps to payback your initial investment. RHI payments can be worth thousands of pounds on an annual basis.

Environment saving:

Burning wood as fuel is carbon neutral. The only carbon released is that which has been previously absorbed. This is much better for the environment than electricity, gas, oil, LPG or coal heating.

Existing Central HeatingAnnual Energy SavingAnnual Carbon SavingAnnual RHI Payments*
Electricity£340-£6508.4-14.5 tonnes£1,925-£3,050
Oil£335-£4704.8-7.5 tonnes£1,925-£3,050
LPG£950-£1,4354.7-7.3 tonnes£1,925-£3,050
Coal£265-£4259.0-14.5 tonnes£1,925-£3,050
Gas£25-£804.0-6.3 tonnes£1,925-£3,050

* RHI payments calculated by the Energy Saving Trust based on a biomass boiler installed between January 1, 2015 and March 31, 2015. The Government amends payments quarterly so check when you install to see the current rate.

Heap pumps

There are two types of heat pump to consider and both have their own benefits and drawbacks. These are air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps.

There are a number of excellent benefits associated with air source heat pumps, including:

Cheaper energy bills. Heat pumps extract heat from the air or ground, rather than rely on the National Grid’s energy. You won’t be at the mercy of national energy suppliers and this can help you to save hundreds of pounds on a yearly basis.

Government-backed income. Heat pumps are eligible for the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This pays out for every unit of renewable heat generated and helps payback your initial Installation costs.

Reduced carbon footprint. Although heat pumps run from electricity, they reduce CO2 output by providing eco-friendly hot water for your home. This not only improves your carbon footprint, but also helps the Government in meeting national EU-set targets.

Low maintenance option. Both air and ground source heat pumps are fairly low maintenance. They’re often referred to as a fit and forget technology because there’ll be very few problems over their lifetime.

Air source heat pumps

Air heat pumps take warmth out of the air and use it for your home’s central heating. Air source heat pumps work well with radiators, underfloor heating and warm air convectors.

Systems work in a similar way to a fridge, which instead extracts heat and removes it from inside. However, air source heat pumps can take warmth from temperatures as low as -15° C. They use a small amount of electricity to run, but produce eco-friendly heat for your property.

Existing HeatingAnnual SavingsAnnual CO2 SavingsAnnual RHI Payments
Gas£290-£4351.4-2.4 tonnes£805-£1,280
Electric£550-£1,0605.8-10.5 tonnes£805-£1,280
Oil£545-£8802.3-3.6 tonnes£805-£1,280
LPG£1,160-£1,8452.1-3.4 tonnes£805-£1,280
Coal£475-£8356.4-10.6 tonnes£805-£1,280

Data from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest figures.

Ground source heat pumps

A ground source heat pump will be buried in the garden and extract heat from the Earth, rather than the air. Just as with air source pumps, geothermal systems can supply heat to radiators, underfloor and air heating.

Pipes buried deep into the ground contain a combination of water and antifreeze. The mixture circulates the system, absorbing heat and passing it through an exchanger. As heat under the ground remains at a consistent temperature, ground source pumps are viable throughout the year.

The system’s size will ultimately be determined by your requirements. Longer loops will extract more heat but need a greater space. There is the opportunity of creating a vertical borehole if space is limited.

Existing HeatingAnnual SavingsAnnual CO2 SavingsAnnual RHI Payments
Gas£3951.8-2.9 tonnes£2,325 to £3,690
Electric£650-£1,2156.2-11.1 tonnes£2,325 to £3,690
Oil£650-£1,0352.6-4.2 tonnes£2,325 to £3,690
LPG£1,285-£2,0002.5-4.0 tonnes£2,325 to £3,690
Coal£575-£9906.8-11.1 tonnes£2,325 to £3,690

Data from The Energy Saving Trust. Please check their website for the latest figures.

Aerial Photograph

Government green deal

When the Government announced the Green Deal scheme back in 2012, it was anticipated as the next best thing to greatly improve energy efficiency in the UK. It hasn’t quite had the desired effect though and although some homeowners have taken advantage of Government loans, it has yet to hit the expected levels of success.

The Green Deal officially launched in June 2014 and is designed to encourage more homeowners, landlords and tenants to take up green measures.

What is the Green Deal?

The Green Deal provides an opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of your home without the need to pay upfront. Rather than forking out a lump sum, repayments are made with the money saved on bills over a set period of time. The Green Deal’s Golden Rule states that you shouldn’t pay back more than you save monthly.

There are plenty of home improvements included in the Green Deal, from insulation and replacement boilers to renewable energy technologies.

The scheme is essentially a loan. You need to choose an approved Green Deal installer to fit the energy efficiency upgrades and this loan is then repaid between 1 and 25 years. Green Deal loans are available to everyone too and not subject to your income.

The loan itself isn’t tied to you either. Instead, it remains with the property. So if you decide to sell your home in the future, the new occupants will take up responsibility of paying the loan.

The original Green Deal closed in 2015, but you can still get loans for energy-saving home improvements through the Green Deal Finance Company. They are now backed by private investors.

What energy efficiency improvements are covered?

There are loads of improvements available under the Green Deal scheme. Amongst others, these include:

  • New or replacement boilers (condensing and biomass)
  • Insulation (solid wall, cavity wall, loft and floor)
  • Heating, hot water and lighting controls
  • Heating system insulation
  • Ground and air-source heat pumps
  • Fan-assisted storage heaters
  • Flue gas recovery
  • Draught proofing
  • Innovative hot water systems

Source: Which?

Remember, if you want to make use of the Green Deal, only companies registered with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and approved as Green Deal assessors, providers or installers can fit the above. Of course, if you wish to invest your own money, you’re free to choose any company.

In total there are some 500 organisations registered under the Green Deal, so you’re spoilt for choice. These are split into independent local companies and larger national suppliers including British Gas, Npower and The Big Green Energy Company.

What happens when I move house?

Green Deal loans are tied to your property, rather than being a personal loan. So, when you sell your house in the future, the loan stays with the property. The next occupier must continue making payments.

Of course, this has its fair share of sceptics, as people believe it’ll be more difficult to sell-up when there’s a loan attached to the property. However, as the Government point out, energy bills won’t be as expensive and the new owners won’t be losing out.

As the loan is attached to your energy bills, defaulting payments can result in you being disconnected from the grid. This is a last resort though and energy companies will work with struggling households to help make bills more affordable.

Smart Thermostat

More energy saving tips & advice

There are even more ways to save money on your energy bills rather than installing insulation, replacing your windows or fitting a new boiler. Much of this has to do with your energy habits and by simply altering these; you can save a small fortune.

All savings figures are from The Energy Saving Trust.

Energy efficient lighting

Home lighting can be a money burner and typically, it pays to replace any standard light bulbs with energy efficient replacements. These use just a small amount of electricity and last much longer.

First off, it pays to replace any standard light bulbs with energy efficient replacements. These use just a small amount of electricity and last much longer.

Lighting energy saving tips:

Many properties use much more electricity than necessary on lighting simply because homeowners don’t realise how much it costs. This is why changing your daily habits is important.

  • Always switch off lights when leaving a room, even if it’ll only be for a short period of time
  • Try not to have a number of lights on at the same time in your home, especially when unneeded
  • Hire an electrician to move light switches to make them conveniently placed and accessible. The bottom / top of the stairs and each end of a hallway is ideal
  • Fit a sensor on any external lights so they’re not on unnecessarily
  • Use appropriate lighting when carrying out certain activities. For instance, you won’t need the main light on when watching TV or reading a book.

Saving water

It’s a little known fact, but the amount of water used in the home will contribute to your total energy bill. Amazingly, the average UK home uses 330 litres of water daily and 20% of your gas heated bill covers heating water for baths, showers and taps. This stands at around £135 annually.

Water saving tips:

  • Avoid the immersion heater where possible as this is particularly expensive
  • Switch bathing for a five-minute shower. If everyone in a family of four did this once a week, you could save up to £45 annually
  • Replace your showerhead for an energy efficient replacement. This could save you £85 a year on gas and water bills
  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth. A running tap wastes six litres of water a minute
  • Fix the dripping taps around your home. A dripping tap can waste 5,300 litres of water each year.

Home appliances

For all home appliances you’ll find an energy rating, highlighting how efficient the product is. It’s worth pointing out that by leaving your appliances on standby you will be wasting between £45 and £80 each year.


Home cookers are becoming more efficient by the year and A-rated products won’t set you back a fortune either. Amazingly, an A-rated cookers will use 40% less energy than a B-rated one.


Dishwashers consume a lot of energy, so if you can face it, try washing up every now and then. It doesn’t take as long as you’d think. Your dishwasher will cost £40 a year to run, so if it’s a must-have, invest in an efficient one.

Fridges & Freezers:

Your fridge and freezer are using electricity 24/7. There’s just no way around this. What you can do though is upgrade to an efficient appliance and an A-rated model will save £57 over its lifetime.


On average you will fill the kettle some 1,500 times a year. Eco-friendly kettles will use 20% less energy. Also, only boil the amount of water you need or you’ll be wasting precious energy each time.


TVs are becoming bigger and better every year and use a lot of energy. HD TVs are more powerful than the older standard definition ones and plasma screens are more expensive to run than LCDs. Whichever TV you have, our tip would be to switch them off at the wall when not in use rather than leaving them on standby.

Smart meters

Smart meters are designed to help reduce your energy bills by monitoring your usage and provide personalised information such as how much electricity is being used at any one time. This will also see an end to meter readings, as energy companies will be able to track your usage directly.

Not only will your energy supplier be alerted as to how much power your property is consuming, but the smart meter will tell you when you’re using energy and how much this is costing. This will give you an opportunity to avoid using certain appliances frequently, if you realise how draining they are on electricity.

The benefits of a smart meter:

The major benefits for smart meters have been outlined above, as they’ll let you know your energy usage and how much you’re spending at any given time. This makes it easy to change certain habits and adapt your energy usage accordingly. By taking note of your smart meter you’ll make long term financial and carbon savings.

No longer will you have any doubt over the true cost of your energy bills and won’t have to worry about estimated billing either.