Why it pays to go green

25 July 2016

Cut down on your carbon footprint and boost your bank balance by minimising your home’s energy output with some simple and effective household hints.



It’s thought that going green is a pricey process – but it doesn’t have to be.

Start at the top of the house

Unless it’s leaking or has blown away, it’s unlikely that you will turn much attention to your roof – especially not as a way of saving money on your energy bills. However, if your property is positioned perfectly, you may be missing an opportunity to boost your bank balance with a set of solar panels.

Get your own solar system

As well as being great for the environment, solar panels can provide your finances with a very sunny outlook. If your ‘solar system’ generates more electricity than you use, you are able to sell the surplus back to the National Grid for use elsewhere through the ‘Feed-in Tarrif’ scheme – a government scheme regulated by Ofgem.

A comprehensive 4kWp system on a UK home would cost on average between £5,000 - £8,000 and is likely to generate around 3,800 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. 

According to Energy Saving Trust, to put this into perspective, this means that the power generated by your humble roof panels could turn the London Eye 50 times! 

As well as saving around £70 a year on an average electricity bill, this set up would save around two tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

Many people are concerned about the UK’s lack of gloriously sunny days, but don’t worry – your TV won’t suddenly cut out because we’ve had a miserable summer. Solar panels don’t need direct sunshine to work, they still generate electricity even on a cloudy day.

Insulate the roof

Once your roof has started earning its keep, it’s time to make sure that it is not counteracting all the good work you are doing in saving money. 

You may remember your mother always insisting you wear a hat to go outside in the cold weather – your house is no different! Up to 25% of your home’s heat can be lost through the roof if it isn’t insulated properly, sending energy bills literally through the ceiling.

Making sure your loft is insulated to a thickness of at least 270mm, with the insulation filling all the gaps between and above the joists of  the loft space, is the equivalent of popping a wooly hat on your home. 

Making sure every gap is well-filled could also help to line your pockets to the tune of around £240 a year in savings on your energy bills.

Save money by being energy efficient

Fill the gaps

If you are working hard to insulate the top of your house, it would be sensible to make sure that your walls are also doing all they can to keep your property as cosy as possible. A third of heat loss in homes occurs through the walls, with cavity wall insulation the best way to prevent this.

Homes built after 1990 are likely to already have cavity wall insulation as standard; however if your home pre-dates this, it’s worth exploring as a money saving option. 

If your property was built after the 1920s, you may be one of the lucky people who already have cavity walls, but you can check by looking at the thickness, as cavity walls tend to be slightly thicker than solid walls. 

If your wall is more than 260mm thick it is likely to be a cavity wall. A registered installer will be able to advise on this.

The insulation process (in which any gaps inside your walls are filled with an expanding foam) should only take a couple of hours to complete and requires minimal intrusion. 

Once complete, it will prevent heat loss though the walls of your home, trapping warm air inside and preventing cold air from entering. A detached property could expect savings of up to £375 a year.

Upgrade your glazing

Windows

With the walls and roof doing all they can to keep heat (and money) from flowing out of your home, you should make sure that your windows and doors aren’t letting the side down. If more than sunlight is flooding through your windows, it might be time to invest in upgrading your glazing.

If you already have double glazing, make sure that all the seals are fresh and in top condition, and that all windows close properly. If your property features original wood or sash windows, or you own a period property, it may be worth considering secondary glazing as an option, or even looking at shutters as a solution.

Doors

When you are checking your windows, take the time to have a good look at your doors as well. Any exit points from your property are prime for heat loss, with a badly fitting front door being an easy exit route for your hard-earned cash! 

Fitting the doors with a seal, skirt, or even a good old-fashioned draught excluder could help solve this gappy problem. With your windows and doors firmly keeping the elements at bay, you could potentially save £100 to £300 a year on your fuel bills.

Protect your home with Saga Home Insurance

Water down your costs

Often forgotten during an environmental overhaul, pipes and water tanks are one of the easiest ways to save money on your bills – and it’s an easy change that you can do yourself.

Hot water tank

If you have a hot water tank, you should make sure that it is properly dressed. Invest in a jacket which will help keep the warmth in, the equivalent of a sturdy winter coat for your hot water tank! An effective jacket will be at least 75mm thick - at this thickness you could be protecting up to 75% more warmth.

Exposed pipes

Also, consider turning your attention to any pipes that are exposed. If the exposed pipes are warm to the touch, you are losing heat (and money) by not insulating them. 

Pipe insulation is readily available from all good DIY stores, and very simple to fit yourself. If you steam ahead with protecting your hot water systems, you could save up to £115 a year. A hot water cylinder jacket only costs around £15!

Save money on water bills

Have a lightbulb moment

Have you ever found yourself grumbling ‘It looks like Blackpool Illuminations in here'?

If so, you’ll probably find that you’ll gather sympathy from many frustrated homeowners who find themselves frantically flicking light switches off through the day and night.

With a standard light bulb costing an average of 3p an hour to run, costs can really add up when they’re left blazing throughout the day and night. 

You can make a simple change by making a simple switch to low-energy bulbs that use almost 90% less energy than a traditional incandescent. 

Admittedly, they are pricier to buy than standard bulbs, but many have a guarantee of up to 25 years, so you could consider this as a long-term option rather than a quick fix. 

You can often find the bulbs on sale in large DIY stores and supermarkets too, so it makes sense to stock up whenever you see a bargain.

In the long run, you could expect to save around £180 over the lifetime of an LED bulb compared to its standard equivalent – a worthwhile saving when you consider the amount of bulbs in the average property!  

Boost your boiler

If you need to replace your boiler and are looking for the most efficient option, you could consider switching to a condensing boiler. 

Make sure your new system comprises of a programmer, room thermostats and thermostatic radiator controls, as these will help to give you complete flexibility over your fuel consumption, meaning that you’re not paying to heat rooms not in use.

And look for a boiler that is endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust, an organisation designed to provide information on the best-performing products in the market place. 

Depending on your household usage, it may be that a standard gas boiler isn’t the best option for your home. With such a variety of boilers on the market nowadays, it is worth investigating your options before committing.

Protect your boiler with Saga Home and Heating Emergency cover


Adam Male, co-founder of urban.co.uk

Urban.co.uk was established in 2008 and  pioneered the concept of Online Estate Agency. 

For more information and access to a wide range of advice, insight and support in buying, selling or releasing a home, visit urban.co.uk.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.