In the 12 months to December last year, average UK electricity costs soared by 65.4%, while gas leapt by an eye-popping 128.9%, according to the Office for National Statistics. The main drivers behind these price hikes are the Ukraine conflict, rising demand, limited supplies and a shortage of storage space.

A comparatively mild winter and reduced reliance on Russian gas Europe-wide have recently given some grounds for relative optimism.

But Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recently warned that households are unlikely to receive further support with energy bills from April as a £400 discount scheme comes to an end, while average annual bills are expected to climb from £2,500 to £3,000.

So the situation is set to remain challenging for UK consumers, at least for the foreseeable future. It means that energy efficiency is increasingly a key factor when people come to buy or rent a new home.

Know your Energy Performance Certificate (EPCs)

In a nutshell, EPCs, valid for 10 years from the date of issue, provide an indication of a property’s energy efficiency, with a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). This gives an understanding of how expensive it will be to heat and light the place. An EPC also includes information on what the rating could be if recommended improvements are made, and how you could raise your rating.

EPCs are awarded by an accredited domestic energy assessor, and you can source one near you via the government’s EPC register. The certificate must be made available to potential buyers and tenants once the property goes on the market. This allows prospective renters and new owners easily to compare the energy efficiency of different homes.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the EPC of a possible new home can potentially be a deal-breaker. Yet EPC data reported by consumer group Which? shows that in the UK just one in three owner-occupied homes achieves the most efficient A-C grades.

So the government is urging property owners to enhance their rating to band C by 2035, adding that most homes currently rated D-G could realise that.

Against this background, if you’re letting your property must be rated at E or above on its Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). (In addition there are plans for this to be raised to a C score or higher.)

How can I have a more energy-efficient home?

The good news is that there are many things you can do to boost the energy efficiency of your property. And while some measures require significant upfront expenditure, they all reduce energy bills in the long run. At the same time, they can minimise potentially costly issues with draughts and damp, mould and condensation.

Some ideas, including fitting a smart meter, switching to energy-saving lightbulbs, not leaving devices on standby and identifying draught spots are simple fixes you’ve no doubt done already. Here are some more ideas for once you’ve identified how energy-efficient (or otherwise) your home is.

  • Upgrade to more energy-efficient appliances

Whether you are buying appliances for your home, or you are a landlord supplying appliances for your tenants to use, these appliances with have energy ratings so buy the most energy-efficient machines you can afford. As an example, if you upgrade from a C to an A-rated washing machine, you could save reduce the energy needed to do a wash by up to a quarter.

  • Fit double glazing

Double glazing comprises two planes of glass with a sealed gap in between, filled with air or an inert gas. This home improvement will mean a quieter, cosier home with fewer cold draughts. What’s more, the Energy Saving Trust says it could reduce bills by £235 annually. You may even want to consider triple glazing, which could be still more effective.

  • Put in underfloor, loft and roof insulation

This is one of the easiest ways of boosting the energy efficiency of a property. (Remember, warmth is always rapidly lost via uninsulated areas.) If you haven’t insulated your loft and roof already, adding a 270mm thickness could allow you to save just over £350 annually. Meanwhile, increasing an existing 120mm of insulation to 270mm could leave you £35 better off a year.

Equally, installing underfloor insulation could save you £110 yearly and make for a more comfortable home, not to mention cheaper bills.

  • Get smart with thermostats

Smart thermostats and heating settings provide control and flexibility over your energy use. They fulfil all the functions of standard heating controls, but are connected online to give users more options, for example allowing you to adjust your temperature settings via your smartphone while you are out.

  • Insulate your hot-water cylinder

This measure could lead to a yearly saving of up to £70. Go online or visit a hardware store and invest in a jacket for your hot-water cylinder if you have a hot-water tank. The cylinder will lose less heat so the water stays hotter for longer, increasing efficiency and lowering costs.

  • Use a government grant for a heat pump

Because they are more efficient than standard boilers, heat pumps will save you money. (They also use cleaner electricity.) Government grants of up to £5,000 off the cost of a heat pump are available in England Wales via the Boiler Upgrade Scheme. Check and see whether you may be eligible for this funding.

Other things to think about include solar panels and cavity wall insulation, either or both of which could again lead to significant savings.

Talk to us

At Oakfield Estate Agents, we fully understand the importance of making properties as energy efficient as possible and appreciate how important this is for commercial and environmental reasons.

We’re always happy to chat to landlords and vendors about what they can do to improve their EPC rating and can even assist with getting the works carried out via our trusted contractor.

Which will not only enhance sustainability it will also make a home a more attractive prospect to would-be buyers and tenants.

Get in touch today