Improve home energy efficiency to cut costs and meet Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings

With high energy prices it’s important for every household to run as efficiently as possible.

Many investments in energy ‘performance’ are paying back faster so it makes sense to consider what to get and when do it.

To do so you need a retrofit plan that lines up with changing government rules, funding opportunities and energy trends.

Contents

  1. Make a plan to improve your home
  2. Comply with Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings
  3. Improve temperature controls and get a smart thermostat
  4. Make low cost improvements to lighting and draught proofing
  5. Improve your roof, wall or floor insulation
  6. Upgrade your heating system
  7. Build and renovate to meet new regulations
  8. Get finance and support

Make a plan to improve your home

Improving home energy efficiency can help your home businesses keep running costs down.

You should create a home improvement plan if you own, manage or operate a business out of a home.

In your plan consider when:

  • funding and grants are available
  • government standards change
  • tenants change over
  • heating systems or building materials need replacing

Make a tailored improvement plan for your home on GOV.UK.

Comply with Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings

You’ll usually need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when your domestic property is built, sold or rented.

You might be eligible for an exemption from an EPC if you own a listed property.

EPCs are valid for 10 years but must be renewed each time your property changes hands.

You can be fined or penalised if you don’t renew your EPC.

EPC ratings range from A, the most efficient, to G, based on:

  • the materials or building ‘fabric’ in your home
  • home services such as heating and lighting

Privately rented domestic properties require a specific EPC rating when they are leased to new tenants.

Owner occupied properties do not currently require a certain level of EPC, though this could change in the future.

Find out more about getting an EPC on GOV.UK.

Meet EPC standards in England and Wales

You must have an EPC rating of E to rent out a private domestic property in England and Wales.

According to a government consultation, all privately rented domestic properties in England and Wales could require an EPC rating of ‘C’ by 2028.

This has not yet become law.

Meet EPC standards in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own standards which are also expected to increase over time.

Find out more in the Energy Saving Trust’s EPC guide.

Improve temperature controls and get a smart thermostat

Changing the way you control energy use can help reduce energy bills. Most require changing habits and cost less than upgrading other parts of your home’s energy performance.

Lower your heat and cooling

According to the Energy Saving Trust, you can reduce your monthly energy bill by 10% for every 1°C you turn down your main thermostat.

Avoid extreme temperatures that can damage your health and building materials.

The lowest advisable temperature for a home is 18°C.

Create a temperature ‘dead band’

Set your thermostat to create a gap between one switching off and the other coming on to prevent competition between your heating and cooling systems.

This gap is called a ‘dead band’.

For example, you could set your heating to shut off at 20°C and cooling to come on at 24°C.

A 2016 study showed that a 4°C dead band resulted in an average of 12.7% savings on heating and cooling energy.

Get a smart thermostat

You can use smart thermostats to help control your heating and cooling systems.

Smart thermostats:

  • can be used through a digital display or app on your phone
  • give you flexibility to control and schedule temperatures
  • are getting cheaper with basic models starting around £100

You might be able to install a smart thermostat without professional help if you have a basic heating and cooling system.

Get a complete guide to controls for your home on the Energy Saving Trust’s website.

Make low cost improvements to lighting and draught proofing

Many energy savings measures require little or no financial cost. However low or no cost improvements will not pay off on the same scale as investments such as wall insulation or a new boiler.

Use the Energy Saving Trust’s home heat loss guide for savings estimates based on up to date energy prices for the average dwelling.

Improve your roof, wall or floor insulation

Upgrading poor insulation has high returns on investment compared to other energy saving measures.

Costs vary depending on factors including your home’s heating system and existing insulation levels.

Use the Energy Saving Trust’s home heat loss guide for savings estimates based on up to date energy prices.

Upgrade your heating system

There are government grants available to switch your heating system from gas or oil to electricity-powered heat pumps.

This reduces that payback time you can expect by switching to a heat pump.

You need adequate insulation and windows to be eligible for heat pump grants.

Use GOV.UK to check if your home is suitable for a heat pump.

New gas boilers are expected to be banned by 2025. However, current Building Regulations allow them to be installed if they meet efficiency standards.

Calculate if a heat pump is worth the cost

Getting a heat pump avoids volatile prices associated with gas and oil.

However, heat pumps increase your electricity prices while reducing your reliance on fossil fuels.

You should check how your bills will be affected before you invest in heat pumps for your home.

You could see a reduction to your energy bill if you are using oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or electric heating.

This is because:

  • gas prices are increasing at a higher rate than electricity
  • electricity is expected to come down in price over time
  • heat pump efficiency is increasing as technology improves

Heat pumps can also be used for cooling your home, which means it can take the place of air conditioning units.

Heat pumps are more efficient and last longer than gas boilers, but electricity is also more expensive (per kWh) than gas as of early 2023.

Find out more about getting air source heat pumps.

Build and renovate to meet new regulations

You must meet higher efficiency standards than before June 2022 when you do home renovations in England and Wales.

The government calls this the ‘interim uplift’ to Building Regulations, and plans to increase requirements by 2025 under the ‘Future Homes Standard’.

Increased efficiency standards in home renovations covers ‘building work’ such as:

  • installing new heating systems
  • adding insulation
  • replacing windows and doors
  • adding an extension
  • doing a major renovation

Different regulations apply depending on your home renovation work.

Find out more about standards you must meet on GOV.UK.

You might want to do a renovation or new build before stricter regulations come into force later on.

For example, the government’s Heat and Buildings Strategy means that gas boilers will be banned in new build homes from 2025.

Get finance and support

You can get help with energy efficiency upgrades and high energy bills with discounts and savings.

Get a discount on a heat pump or biomass boiler

The government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme runs to 2028 or when its £450M funding budget runs out.

It’s estimated about 90,000 upgrades can be funded by the scheme.

You might be eligible for up to £6,000 off a heat pump or biomass boiler if you own a home in England or Wales that uses a fossil fuel heating system.

Your building must also have adequate insulation to be eligible.

Find out more about retrofit funding.

Save VAT on energy saving measures

It is now cheaper to make your home business more energy efficient.

VAT is no longer be charged on some domestic energy saving measures in England, Scotland and Wales, including:

  • insulation
  • heat pumps
  • solar panels
  • wind turbines

Find out more about help to manage household finances

Use any of the following to help manage the high cost of household bills: