The true cost of making your home energy efficient

The government says households can tackle higher gas and electricity bills by making their homes more energy efficient and, as a result, the six biggest energy suppliers have been told to stump up £910 million to fund free insulation for poorer households.

But how much difference do energy efficient measures make? Can they really save you money off your energy bills, and is the upfront cost worth it?

According to the National Housing Federation, our annual fuel bills will soar to around £1,400 by the end of next year. So, could making a few energy efficient changes to your home really save you hundreds of pounds?

Cost: £0

You don’t even need to open your wallet to start seeing savings on your energy bills. Energywatch claims that by simply turning down your thermostat down by one degree you could slash your heating bill by 10%. And turning all of your appliances off standby can cut 8% from the cost of your electricity, while turning off your lights when you leave a room could see you save an extra £75 a year.

But it doesn’t have to end there. Other good habits include closing your curtains and doors to keep the heat in, only boiling the water you need and showering rather than having a bath.

Cost: £5 - £10

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to start turning your home green. For just a few pounds, the savings you could make mean that you can recoup what you spend quite quickly.

Draught excluders

According to Energywatch, around 20% of the heat in an average home is lost through ventilation and draughts. Draught excluders cost around £5 each, and can be fitted on your letterbox and the bottom of your doors to help to keep the cold air outside. According to Godfrey's, a DIY retailer, this simple investment will pay for itself in less than a year.

Energy efficient lightbulbs

Energy saving lightbulbs are far more efficient compared with standard lightbulbs - they use less power and last longer too. Normally priced at between £5 and £7, these bulbs could save you £7 per year - or around £45 if used in all lights in the average house.

Hippo the Water Saver

Hippo the Water Saver is a bag that fits in your toilet cistern, meaning you use less water everytime you flush the chain. According to its maker, a Hippo bag saves approximately three litres of water - a cost saving of £20 per year.

And at just £8 for three from, you’ll get your money back in less than three months.

However, a more cost-efficient way to save money when you flush is to simpy put a house brick in your cistern.

Cost: £10 - £20

Chimney balloon

A chimney balloon is a blow-up device that you stick up your chimney to reduce heat loss. At around £20, it is easy to fit and inflate, and lasts for around five years. Depending on the size of your chimney you’d get your money back after three to six months, so it’s well worth considering.

Hot water tank jacket

For just £15, fitting a hot water tank jacket around your water cylinder is a relatively inexpensive way to keep the heat inside. They can be bought from any good DIY store and are easy to fit. According to The Big Green Switch, an energy efficiency group, a hot water tank jacket can cut heat loss by up to 75% so it will pay for itself in just six months.

Cost: £100 - £250

Should you want to splash a bit more cash to get your home working harder for you, there are a number of investments to choose from. However, it could take years to see any return, so choosing the right option depends on the size of your wallet and the length of time you’ll use it for.

Energy efficient fridge-freezers

Fridges and freezers are the most hardworking appliances in our kitchens - they are on the go for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We actually spend £1.2 billion on electricity every year just to keep our food fresh, but if your fridge or freezer isn't energy efficient, it could be costing you a lot more.

Buying a new energy saving recommended fridge-freezer could save you up to £35 a year, so it would pay for itself in around six years.

Cost: £250 - £500

Loft insulation

Nearly 50% of all the heat loss in the average home is lost through the roof and walls. As warm air rises, loft insulation acts as a blanket, trapping the heat rising from the rooms below. You could also consider lagging your pipes at the same time for optimum efficiency.

The cost will all depend on the size of your house, but with a government grant it will cost around £250 to install loft insulation in a three-bedroom home.

Energywatch claims this measure would pay for itself in just over two years.

But bear in mind, without a government grant loft insulation could set you back thousands of pounds.

Cost: £500

Cavity wall insulation

If you live in a home built after 1920, your external walls will have a small air gap between them, called a cavity. For around £500, installing cavity wall insulation is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures you can make to your home as it can reduce heat lost through your walls by up to 60%.

This would save you around £120 a year.

Cost: £1,000+

A new boiler

Your boiler is the biggest energy user in your house, but the older it is, the more inefficient it is likely to be. If it is older than 15 years it could be worth installing a modern condensing boiler. These cost less to run as they convert more fuel into heat - in fact you could save up to £200 a year off your heating bill, and because they last for around 15 years it would pay for itself after five years.

Wind turbines

Wind turbines have gained in popularity, particularly with David Cameron. But although they produce relatively low-cost electricity generation they are a costly purchase. Turbines rated at 600W-1.5kW cost anything between £1,500-£3,000, rising to a whopping £20,000 for the 20kW models.

However, they are a very long-term investment - according to the British Wind Energy Association, a 1kW turbine would produce about 600 kW per year worth £72 - meaning it would take around 35 years to pay for itself.

Cost: £2,000 - £4,000


Around 20% of heat is lost through window panes and frames, but double-glazing stops this. It traps air between two panes of glass which creates an insulating barrier that will stop heat being lost, stop condensation appearing at your windows, and will also help stop noise from outside.

However, just four double glazed windows will set you back around £2,000, and would only save you around £100 a year. It may not make financial sense to buy double-glazing if you’re not willing to stay in your home for 20 years.

Cost: £4,500+

Solid wall insulation

If your home was built before 1920, it is likely to have solid masonry walls, meaning they lose more heat than cavity ones. The only way to prevent this is to insulate them with thick insulating panels. However, fitting external insulation is not only very expensive it requires planning permission since it changes the appearance of your house.

You should call your local council to check on local policy. If you get the go-ahead you’d save around £380 a year, meaning it would take 12 years to see any benefit.

What to do next:

There are so many ways to reduce your energy bills and the impact your home has on the climate. The government wants to encourage people to use energy more efficiently, and help with the supply and costs of installation and energy saving measures.

Under the government’s new carbon emissions reduction scheme (CERT), low-income customers and pensioners can apply to receive loft and cavity wall insulation and energy- saving devices free of charge. The government says 11 million households come into this category.

Contact the energy savings trust or call 0800 512 012 to find out more.