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The UK is slowly progressing towards a sustainable future with more homes installing renewable solutions to help reduce the total reliance and use of fossil fuels. A perfect example of this is the recent Insulate Britain movement that saw huge amounts of media coverage across the UK. Even though the delivery can be questioned, the overarching theme of poorly insulated homes within the UK couldn’t be more correct.

Moving towards renewables means efficiency and for anything to be efficient it needs to be in an efficient environment. If a poorly insulated home is equipped with a heat pump or mechanical ventilation and heat recovery system, then the unit will run less efficiently as the heat will escape easier and more often. If the building is more efficient, renewable technology will require less power and run time to achieve the same outcome.

How to make your home more energy efficient

There are various methods of creating a more energy-efficient home. These can be small steps like reducing thermostat temperatures or bigger steps including investment in sustainable technologies.

A small but effective step that everyone can take is completely free, reducing your thermostat by 1 degree. If the whole of the UK were to follow suit, then the UK would reduce yearly carbon emissions by 3.5million tonnes. This adjustment of one degree can reduce carbon emissions but also save you up to 10% on yearly heating bills. For those that heat their homes at above 22 degrees, you could see an even greater saving if you were to reduce your heating down to 19-20 degrees. Even reducing your heating to 20 degrees overnight could see a 5-15% saving on your annual heat bills.

Another way in which homeowners can create a more energy-efficient home is through changes to their lighting systems. LED lights are a great way to increase the efficiency of your home as they require up to 75% less energy to power than normal incandescent bulbs. There will also be a gradual saving over time as LEDs last up to three to five times longer. Installing these throughout your home will see reductions in electricity costs and increase the efficiency of your home, with less wasted energy being used through inefficient lighting. Of course, don’t forget to turn them off when you leave the room.

Following on from the previously mentioned movement of Insulate Britain, insulating your house can see huge reductions in heating bills, draughty houses especially. Any areas that allow cold airflow can be filled and insulated to reduce heat loss throughout your home. Even though this is a more expensive method, it will considerably increase how efficient your home is whilst future-proofing it against higher efficiency home requirements. There are other steps to help insulate your home, like reducing the amount of uncontrolled ventilation in your home, replacing doors, and installing secondary/double glazed windows. Products that can be fitted yourself like window and doors seals can help reduce uncontrolled ventilation and retain heat better.

Incorporating all these factors into a home will create a more airtight and energy-efficient home. Coupling insulation alongside traditional fossil fuel heating systems can see savings in yearly heating bills and a partially reduced amount of carbon emissions.

However, the problem of using a fossil fuel heating system will still create carbon emissions. This is where a renewable heat pump system comes in.

Replacing an inefficient heating system with a heat pump would see an increase in the efficiency of your home as heat pumps are much more efficient than traditional fossil fuel boilers. Heat pumps have a Coefficient of Performance (CoP) of around four, meaning that for every kW of electricity used to generate heat, there will be a return of four kWs. Traditional fossil fuel boilers have a CoP of around one unit and sometimes less than one. Heat pumps collect their energy from natural sources like ground, water, and air. In comparison, a harmful fossil fuel boiler may use less electricity but produces a higher number of emissions whilst being significantly less efficient.

Heat pumps can also be found in Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems. This renewable technology involves the ventilation of a building whilst retaining the heat produced inside the property, as this occurs it also purifies and filters the air throughout the property. This reduces allergens, smells, and humidity in addition to providing heating or cooling. These suit homes that have a lower rate of airflow throughout the building, for example, homes that have good insulation and air-tightness standards. MVHR systems can include integrated heat pumps which increase the energy efficiency of a home as the sustainably created heat is retained and moved around the home more efficiently.

Though a cheaper alternative, solar panels are still a big investment when considering all potential solutions. Solar panel arrays are beneficial to any home as they can reduce the amount of electricity that your home requires daily, especially when the sun is shining. Generating your own renewable electricity helps to reduce your reliance on grid electricity, which is not always created sustainably, minimising the impact of current fluctuating electricity prices. When generating daily, these solar panels can significantly increase the energy efficiency of your home by powering certain household appliances. When paired with a heat pump, solar panels can partially offset this increased electricity demand, reducing the financial impact.

Although these are the most renewable options, they are also the most expensive, and smaller steps can be taken to increase efficiency, like those smaller options above. There are multiple options for both air source and ground source heat pumps, suitable for any home, big or small. These renewable heating systems will help to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Benefits of an energy-efficient home

The main thing associated with efficiency is saving energy. Improving the efficiency of your home by reducing your energy usage significantly reduces your carbon emissions. Through small steps, the carbon saving from one house, multiplied by the 17.7 million homes in the UK could have a significant effect on the UK’s total carbon emissions. Even though the smaller changes aren’t renewable solutions, in the long run, they will be as energy usage is reduced and therefore carbon emissions are reduced.

Feeding on from energy-saving comes the amount of money saved each year from heating and electricity bills. In terms of money, the benefits will be seen monthly as the amount billed will become reduced. Not only will this now begin saving you money over time, but these changes will begin to pay for themselves as the amount saved covers the initial costs, especially with solar panels. An additional benefit is that homes which are more energy-efficient are worth more in today’s housing market, as they are sought after by people and companies who are actively seeking to go green.

A benefit that is less tangible but will be felt instantly is the increased comfort of your home. Through physical feeling, the heat pump will be able to provide the same temperature in heating and hot water as a traditional fossil fuel boiler. Energy-efficient homes will notice the difference as rooms heat quicker than usual and the heat within the home lasts for longer at a more consistent temperature due to a system called weather compensation. Also, there are health benefits associated with heat pumps as there is no longer a fossil fuel boiler in the home producing high amounts of CO2. Resulting in a warmer home with better air quality, especially with an MVHR unit.

It is time to make these changes to help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and rest easy knowing you are doing your part to help reduce your carbon impact as much as possible.

If you would like to know more or find out how we can help increase the efficiency of your building through heat pumps, MVHR units, or solar panels. Then be sure to contact our team on 01293 821 345. We are actively trying to increase the number of buildings with renewable technology, why not let us help you?

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