Period properties with thick walls and small windows can score surprisingly well in energy ratings, but most homes will become cheaper to run and more comfortable if you make improvements to their efficiency. For owners of attractive homes, listed properties and those located in Conservation Areas, finding the right energy-saving solutions can be challenging, with options limited to those that do not alter the character or fabric of the building. The advice from English Heritage is, where possible, to repair rather than replace and to check with your local authority before introducing any energy-saving measures that may have a physical or visual impact on your property.
Also bear in mind that larger updates, such as installing a new boiler or double glazing, can be expensive, so it is important to weigh up the outlay costs against potential savings. As all homes have varying levels of efficiency, there is no one-size-fits-all solution so seek specialist advice.
1. Get a smart meter
Monitoring your energy use will help you to establish how well your house performs and where savings need to be made. British Gas can install this smart meter for free for customers.
2. Buy energy-saving appliances
The efficiency of an appliance is indicated by its energy rating, with A+++ being the highest. Upgrading to the best-rated appliances will offer savings on electricity bills. From left to right: Miele WKR770WPS A+++ chrome edition washing machine, £1,799; Bosch SMS58T12GB A+ dishwasher in white, £389; Samsung RB31FERNBSS A+++ brushed steel fridge-freezer, £699. All from John Lewis (0345 604 9049)
3. Insulate the loft
One of the most effective ways to reduce energy consumption and, therefore, costs is to improve insulation levels in your home. Heat rises, so the loft, where insulation can be added with minimal structural disruption, is a good place to start.
Thermafleece’s CosyWool 100mm-thick natural insulation costs from £5.40 per m2. Thermafleece (01768 486285)
4. Use LED lighting
Swapping old-fashioned tungsten bulbs for LEDs, which on average last 25,000 hours, can instantly reduce electricity consumption. While LED lamps can be expensive to buy, savings in electricity bills will usually offset the cost.
The lamps now come in all styles, from dimmable spotlights to filament lamps such Kosnic’s new candle designs, priced £12.36 each. Kosnic (0845 838 6851)
5. Invest in renewable energy
The most popular renewable energy sources for period properties are solar and wind, but drawing energy from the ground and air are also possibilities. However, while renewables can give considerable savings on your bills, they can also have a negative impact on your home’s appearance, so make sure you have all the facts before investing.
My Four Walls can install solar panels on finance from £74 per month. My Four Walls (0800 032 1111)
6. Install an energy-efficient stove
Unlike open fires, which lose most of their heat straight up the chimney, wood-burning stoves store their warmth and radiate it throughout the room.
The Nordpeis Bergen cast-iron and steel stove, £1,1135, is 84 per cent efficient and has air wash and steam burn systems. Nordpeis (01392 474000)
7. Add smart controls
Thermostatic radiator valves and smart thermostats offer control over individual heating zones, to prevent heat from being wasted.
8. Reduce drafts
Blocking off any gaps in the structure of your home can stop heat escaping and reduce the output needed. There are multiple solutions, but a humble draught excluder for the door is a cheap and unobtrusive option, which can also add a pop of pattern and colour.
This 90cm linen draught excluder in Duck Egg Dot is £40, available from The Linen Works (020 7819 7620)
9. Fit a new boiler
Replacing an old, inefficient boiler with a new, 90 per cent efficient condensing model can save you up to £305 per year*.
Worcester Bosch’s Greenstar Si high-efficiency gas boilers, from around £1,000, are A-rated for efficiency.
10. Upgrade windows
Up to 20 per cent of a home’s heat can be lost through old, inefficient single glazing. Installing double glazing will considerably reduce this – and draughts – but the payback time is long and new windows can sacrifice the appearance of a period property. These double-glazed EB24 Georgian Bar steel windows by Clement have high-performance 24mm double-glazed units that offer the look of single glazing. From £720, Clement
- BEAMA 020 7793 3000; beama.org.uk
- Building Energy Performance Assessment 0333 321 8811; bre.co.uk
- Energy Saving Tryst 0300 123 1234; energysavingtrust.org.uk
- English Heritage climatechangeandyourhome.org.uk
- Which? 01992 822800; which.co.uk