They say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can ever do. And they’re usually right.
The whole process is filled with uncertainty. But play your cards right, and you might just end up with your dream home.
One of those many things to consider when looking for your new property is energy efficiency. This isn’t just Estate Agent talk - you really can end up saving a lot of money.
And there’s more ways to do so than you originally might think. You can look high and low for potential money-saving spots – whether you’re in the market for a flat, an old cottage that might require a bit of extra care and attention, or a new build that should comply with most current energy efficiency regulations.
So to help you on your house hunting exploits we’ve outlined some of the most obvious – and not so obvious – things to look out for below. Indeed, even if you’re not moving anytime soon, you might want to think about whether you could use the tips to further improve the energy efficiency of your existing property.
And if you want to find out even more, then why not visit our handy Homebuyers Guide, which gives you all the details you need to know about moving home.
Let’s get cracking then…
A typical home can lose up to 25% of its heat through the roof. And whilst most houses have some level of loft insulation, the majority still have less than what’s recommended. Make sure you take a look in the loft to see what’s on offer, and to see whether you can add more insulation going forward. Topping up your insulation professionally could be an investment that lasts for decades – and could potentially save up to £70 per year.
Those cracks between the floorboards aren’t just annoying ways of losing coins, they can also prove to be surprisingly large sources of heat loss. That’s particularly the case in older houses, where structures have moved over time. Floorboards and skirting board gaps can be filled easily using decorators’ caulk or tube sealant and could result in savings of up to £20 per year. Meanwhile, insulating under your ground floor floorboards could reduce heating bills by as much as 9%. Whether it can cure the freaky creaking sounds those floorboards make is another matter…OK, maybe we’ve been watching too many horror movies.
It’s no secret that walls and windows are where the real energy demons lie. Improving wall insulation can increase warmth and typically reduce heating costs by anything between 25% and 40%. Speak to your agent when visiting new houses to see what type of walls the property has – if it is less than ten years old, the walls should already be insulated. If it has cavity walls, then you can fill a small gap with insulation for around £500. If the property was built before 1920, then it might have solid walls, which will be more expensive to insulate, but will still help save money on your energy bills – as much as £290 per year, in fact.
Having double glazed windows can make a big difference to lowering energy bills, as well as reducing condensation and noise. It can cost anything from £200 per window to £4,500+ for a whole house, but as about 10% of heat in a non-insulated home is lost through the windows, you should notice the difference.
The experts on those property programmes always go on about ‘south-facing gardens’, and for good reason. But it’s more than just handy for a few hours sunbathing – facing south can be useful for energy efficiency too. If the house you’re looking at has lots of south-facing windows, then you’ll let in the most light and heat possible, meaning you can have nature help you out.
LOOK AT THE BOILER
Remember that a boiler needs to be regularly serviced – and if it’s more than eight years old, it may need replacing with a more efficient model. So always be sure to ask about its current state – not only could a new boiler cost around £2,300 (not the smallest amount when you’ve just bought a new house!), but an A-rated boiler that carries an Energy Saving Trust logo can actually help you save up to £260 per year.
LOOK IN THE BATHROOM
Hot water typically accounts for around 25% of a household’s energy bill, so how can you be sure that you’re not literally chucking water down the drain? An energy efficient showerhead is a great ‘quick win’. It can cost around £25 to purchase but can save up to £20 per year. And don’t forget the hot water pipes and cylinder – adding an insulation sleeve to exposed pipes can keep water warmer for longer, whilst a cylinder jacket won’t just look snazzy – it can prevent heat loss and cut your gas bill by 5%.
LOOK AT THE PAPERWORK
Forget to make all the necessary inspections when exploring your dream home? You can always check the paperwork to cover off any other queries. Whenever a house is built, sold or rented it’s required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (an EPC). This contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs. It also gives further recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money. It’s one of the most important documents you'll receive.
Once you’ve made all the usual checks, then why not think about what’s next? And more specifically, can you get a smart meter installed? Smart meters are free gas or electricity meters that automatically send meter readings to your supplier. This helps you get accurate bills and gives you more control over your energy use. Nifty, huh?
Whether you’re close to finding your dream home, dipping your toe in the housing market for the first time, or just fancy making some changes to your current property to make it more energy efficient, there are plenty of things you can do. Hopefully our whistle-stop guide above has provided some food for thought, but if you want to go into even more detail, then why not head to our Homebuyers Guide to take an in-depth tour. Happy hunting!