Green home improvements to save you money

  {mosimage}It has been a slow journey for the messages of the environmental movement to take root in people’s lives, but today many are aware of the basics. Most of us are careful about separating out our recyclables from our rubbish, while some seek out locally produced food.

Attitudes are also slowly changing in favour of leaving the car at home and using public transport, while more bike lanes are being created in our towns and cities.

However, many are still living in houses which are energy-inefficient – meaning we are wasting both energy and money. But what can we do to limit the amount of gas and electricity we are consuming?

Simple switches

A good place to start could be to complete the Energy Saving Trust’s Home Energy Check for your property. The online assessment aims to highlight the areas in your home which are wasting energy, allowing you to calculate how you can cut your carbon footprint – and save money.

Whatever this process highlights, there are many simple ways to take action. Lighting is a very simple place to start, and buying energy-saving light bulbs is an obvious first step, allowing you to save an estimated £55 over the lifespan of each CFL or LED bulb.

Draught-proofing is another easy way to save. Most houses – particularly older ones – will have little gaps around windows, doors and pipework leading to the outside, loft hatches etc. Blocking these up is generally a straightforward DIY job – though be careful not to block up areas which need ventilation, such as rooms which have open fires or flues, or where a lot of moisture is produced, such as kitchens or bathrooms.

Meanwhile, smart meters are being rolled out around the country. In addition to allowing your gas and electricity companies to see more accurately what you are using – meaning they don’t need to send meter readers to your house – smart meters allow you to see exactly how much energy you are using in real time, allowing you to identify unnecessary wastage in your daily life.

Grand schemes

Just as we like to pop on a warm coat to prevent the valuable warmth our bodies generate from escaping, our homes need help to hang onto their costly heat. By ensuring that they are properly insulated, you can cut down on heating costs and the amount of CO2 you produce.

Roof and loft insulation is a great place to start, as heat rises and is easily lost. According to the Energy Saving Trust, you could save up to £175 a year by getting your loft insulated, depending on factors such as the depth of wool you use and the size of your home, which will pay for the installation many times over the course of its 40-year life. The same goes for walls. Whether you have cavity or solid walls, there are ways to treat them – and the Saving Trust can help you work out what you need.

Boiler technology has come on in leaps and bounds since older models were installed. And with boilers accounting for the majority of what you spend each year on energy bills, replacing your existing model with an energy-efficient one could be a great idea – potentially saving you around £300 a year.

A Green Deal?

If you want to go a step further down the green route, you could generate your own electricity. Some of the most common ways include solar panels to generate electricity or heat water. Other options include domestic wind turbines and ground source heat pumps – both of which seek to turn the elements around your home to your advantage.

These tend to be significant investments, and while there are grants available for some projects – for example, using the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive – they can still require a commitment to staying on in your home for long enough to ensure that you recoup the initial outlay .

Looking to the future, the government itself seems committed to bringing energy-saving measures to the more inefficient houses in the country, with the Green Deal set to retrofit millions of homes over the coming decade, based on providing a loan where savings delivered are going to be more than the cost of the repayments.

While some green home improvements can be done simply and cheaply, others involve substantial investments of several thousand pounds – taking out a small loan could be a possible option to help fund these larger scale changes.

Issued by Sainsbury’s Finance

Sainsbury’s Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury’s Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury’s Group of companies.