Three straightforward ways to improve your home’s efficiency

With energy prices rising and climate change a serious concern, it’s more important than ever before to make our homes as energy efficient as possible. While there are lots of different ways to make our homes more efficient, here are three methods that are relatively straightforward to help you get started.

  1. Replace old light bulbs with LEDs

A simple and affordable way to improve efficiency is to switch out all of your light bulbs with LED alternatives, which use significantly less energy and last much longer than incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Incandescent and halogen light bulbs have both gradually been phased out throughout Europe due to various regulations striving to improve energy efficiency. However, you may find you still have some of these inefficient bulbs remaining in your home, particularly in appliances such as ovens and refrigerators.

CFL bulbs use between 60% and 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs, while LED bulbs use 90% less. CFL bulbs offer around 10,000 hours in lifespan, while LED bulbs offer 25,000 hours. This makes them an excellent investment despite them being around 30% more expensive than CFLs.

If you want to improve the efficiency of all lights in your home at once, you may decide to replace all your bulbs with LEDs in one go. However, to spread the cost and reduce waste, it may simply be better to begin replacing incandescent, halogen and CFL bulbs with LEDs as and when they expire.

  1. Replace or repair old windows and doors

A larger job, but one with huge potential impact. If your home has single-glazed windows and doors, replacing them with double-glazed or triple-glazed units is a straightforward way to reduce heat loss and cut down on your energy usage. There are several different types of frames to choose from when buying new windows and doors. uPVC is perhaps the most popular since they’re very affordable, require zero maintenance, and are recyclable when they’re eventually replaced.

Wooden frames are more expensive and they require much more TLC to keep them in good condition. However, wood is a renewable material and it offers a traditional finish. Aluminium windows and doors, which usually contain either a wood or foam core to provide good insulation, are becoming increasingly popular. They’re durable and highly secure, and they’re usually finished in a protective powder coating that is available in a wide range of colours. The only downside is they tend to be much more expensive than uPVC.

If you already have doubled-glazed windows but they’re fairly old, look out for signs that the seals have deteriorated. Gaps and cracks in the seals, draughts coming from the window and condensation inside the glazed panels are all signs that the seals are worn and the windows aren’t keeping heat inside the home as efficiently as they should. You can get existing windows resealed to avoid the expense of brand-new ones. It’s also possible to replace individual glass panels in cases where chips or cracks in the glass are reducing efficiency.

  1. Install solar panels

Solar panels are a big investment, but provided that they’re within your budget they’re a pretty straightforward way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Solar energy is clean and renewable, and the more solar power your home uses, the less it has to depend on non-renewable energy from the electricity grid. The panels are installed on the roof of your property and there’s very little interruption to your home during the process except for your electricity being switched off for a short time while the panels are hooked up.

A big benefit of solar panels is their ability to generate extra income. In the UK, the Smart Export Guarantee allows you to sell any surplus electricity generated by your solar panels back to the grid. This extra cash can help you to recoup the cost of your solar panels and eventually provide you with a small profit. For those in other regions, it’s possible to store surplus energy in a battery for use after the sun has gone down.

Many people assume that solar panels have to be installed in a very sunny spot. This was once true, but modern solar panels are significantly more effective than they once were and can produce a good amount of electricity from daylight. If your home doesn’t get lots of direct sun, it doesn’t matter; solar panels can still be an excellent way to boost your home’s efficiency.

It can be daunting to think of all the ways in which your home could be made more energy efficient, so focus on one step at a time and start with the most straightforward tactics. Every little helps when it comes to curbing our energy use and protecting the planet.