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Move iQ: How to make an old home more energy efficient

You can improve the energy efficiency of an older building in many different ways, without needing a major renovation. This goes hand in hand with lower energy bills – and a lower carbon footprint. Unsure where to start? Here’s some advice on how to make an old home more energy efficient.

You can improve the energy efficiency of an older building in many different ways, without needing a major renovation. This goes hand in hand with lower energy bills – and a lower carbon footprint. Unsure where to start? Here’s some advice on how to make an old home more energy efficient.

How to make your home more energy efficient: 12 top tips

  1. Invest in a new boiler
  2. Fill gaps between floorboards
  3. Insulation
  4. Invest in new windows
  5. Switch energy supplier
  6. Get a smart meter
  7. Update kitchen appliances
  8. Save water
  9. Use alternate power sources
  10. Upgrade to LED lighting
  11. Draught proof your home
  12. Add double-glazing

The importance of energy saving home improvements

Energy efficient houses are becoming more of a priority for many, not just for homeowners but also potential future buyers. Making small changes, both to your property and your habits, can help you both save money and do your bit for the planet too.

Priorities for older properties

Older properties tend to lose more heat than newer-built ones, which is why tackling heat loss and insulation can be a good idea. Plus, outdated appliances often use more energy than is necessary.

When it comes to saving energy, it might be worth reviewing the energy performance certificate (EPC). The survey could have picked up on some specific areas for improvement that you can take action on. We’ll also delve into some more general tips that can make a big difference to your home.

Update heatingUpdate central heating

Improving the thermal efficiency of your property can be a great way to save energy (and therefore money).

Fill floorboard gaps

Wondering how to make your house warmer? One of the best home energy saving tips that’s often overlooked is to fill gaps between floorboards. This can result in heat loss in older properties (the equivalent of leaving a small window open)! This solution is good news in the colder months and could save you roughly £40 per room, per year.

Upgrade the boiler

Another tip is to invest in a new boiler. These can be 90% efficient, while older models can have less than 50% efficiency. Prices will vary depending on the type of boiler you choose. Remember installation costs will be on top of this.


Many older properties have loft space, which if uninsulated, can account for around a quarter of a home’s heat loss. The good news is that loft insulation is fairly easy to implement and can help to reduce bills and save heat energy.

You have other options too, such as cavity wall insulation. This helps store heat within the inner walls, resulting in less wasted energy. Expect to pay between £330 – £725 for this, depending on what type of property you have.

Consider how to cool an old home

It’s not just colder months that pose a problem. A struggle many homeowners in older properties face is that the ventilation hasn’t been well thought out. It may well be worth investing in windows that allow a through-breeze.

You could also consider energy-efficient air conditioning for the super-hot summer months, although this may impact your energy bills.

How to reduce spending

Older properties can be more expensive to run, but there are many different ways you can cut maintenance costs down.

Switch energy supplier

One way to potentially reduce spending is to switch energy suppliers. Many households are still on a standard tariff, which is usually the most expensive option from any provider.

Smart meterssmart meter

To help you further cut down your energy use, get a smart meter. These help you keep an eye on your usage by displaying it in pounds and pence, so you can ultimately reduce it.

Other energy-saving tips include:

  • Don’t put items on standby
  • Replace old bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs
  • Use smart plugs to operate security lighting and adjust for daylight
  • Turn down your thermostat

Does your home need rewiring?

Bear in mind the above advice may not be enough depending on the property. You may need to rewire an older house to allow for more efficient electrical usage and safety.

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Update and take more care with kitchen appliances

When it comes to how to make your home more energy-efficient, small changes can add up and make a big difference over time.

For example, start washing clothes on a lower temperature; washing at 30 degrees is more economical than at 40 degrees. Also, if you can reduce the amount of washes you do by just one a week, you could cut down spend by £5 a year.

Does your freezer require manual defrosting? If so, make sure you defrost it regularly, as this will decrease the amount of energy it uses.

Save water

It’s not all about the electrics – there are plenty of ways to reduce your water bill too, even if you live in an older home!

For example, why not upgrade to a special water-saving showerhead? These reduce the amount of water you use in the shower by up to 50%, by either regulating the flow or aerating the water.

Other tips to cut down water use include:

  • Using a washing up bowl
  • Turning off the tap when you brush your teeth
  • Cutting back dishwasher and washing machine use (only put it on when you have a full load)

Consider using alternate power sources

The average household in the UK emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2 every year from heating their home. However, a home’s needs can be provided by renewable energy.

You have plenty of options when it comes to green energy sources, however, bear in mind if you live in a listed building (or have any restrictive covenants), you may not be allowed to make certain changes to your property. It’s always worth checking.

Solar panelssolar panels

You could consider investing in solar panels. These capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity for you to use at home. The initial upfront cost may be high, but they have a long life span of around 25 years which makes them worth the investment for many. They can also dramatically reduce your bills.

Air source heat pump

If solar panels aren’t for you, have you ever considered an air source heat pump? This is a renewable way to heat your home and reduce energy bills, and its maintenance costs are low.

Essentially, it uses energy from the outside air to heat the building, which is a very energy-efficient method.

Ground source heat pump

A ground source heat pump is another alternative heating option. These need some electricity to run, but they generate much more energy than they use. Initial installation costs can be high, but they can save you between £500 – £1,400 a year.

Upgrade to LED lighting

LED bulbs use over 75% less energy because diode light is much more efficient (power-wise) than filament light. This small change can help you improve energy efficiency in the home, without costing much.

Draught proof your home

Older properties are notorious for draughts! Try to work out where you’re losing heat (and therefore money) by identifying any obvious gaps that let light in and listening out for rattling or whistling noises.

Draught proofing can be extremely effective; don’t just pay attention to doors and windows but also floors, skirting boards, pipes and chimneys. It’s best to consult a professional about the type of draught excluders you’ll need.

Another tip: keep inside doors closed if they lead to an unheated room.

Add double glazing

Double glazing has a number of benefits, including sound insulation and, in some cases, added value. But by far one of the best is heat retention.

In fact, double glazed windows can reduce heat loss by up to 50%. It works by trapping air between the two panes of glass and acting as an insulator, potentially saving you hundreds a year.

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