How to save money with an eco friendly home

Which eco friendly upgrades to your home are really worth the investment? Chartered surveyor and guest blogger Richard Sexton explains

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Going green and creating an eco friendly home can be as good for your wallet as it is for the environment. But there’s a risk that some renovations could be so costly that they’re just not worth it. With this in mind, it’s useful to know which eco friendly improvements promise the best return on investment. It’s always good to do your bit for the environment, but taking care of your bank balance should take priority.

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Insulate your loft

When looking at eco friendly, energy saving renovations, insulating your loft is an excellent first step. Your home can easily lose heat through the roof, so it’s important to ensure your loft is properly insulated. By using recycled or natural materials, such as that made from sheep’s wool or recycled plastic bottles, you’ll not only save a few trees, but a few pounds as well. According to Channel 4’s George Clarke, homeowners often recoup the £250-£300 cost of loft insulation within two to three years.

Fill in those wall cavities

If you find yourself staring in bewildered shock at your sky-high heating bills each month, it might be time to consider filling your cavity walls with insulation. About a third of all heat lost in an uninsulated home dissipates through the walls. Although most homes built since the 1990s have cavity wall insulation, those built earlier often don’t. An eco friendly semi-detached house with cavity walls could save £160 each year in heating bills through insulation, according to Which? At an average cost of £475, this renovation has a payback time of approximately three years.

Consider solar panels carefully

No article on sustainable home improvements would be complete if it didn’t mention solar panels. While installing these panels can be expensive, their long-term savings may make them worthwhile. With initial installation costs ranging from £5,000-£8,000, installing solar panels may seem like a daunting and altogether unrewarding task. With government feed-in tariffs, you can earn up to £260 a year, whilst also saving £60 a year on electricity bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. This means you could recover your initial investment in approximately 16 years. Given the hefty initial investment, this option isn’t the best for your bank balance, despite the environmental benefits.

Invest in an eco-friendly air-source heat pump

If you’re concerned that solar panels may ruin the aesthetics of your home, you may prefer installing an air-source heat pump. These pumps generate heat from the outside air, reversing the method used to cool fridges. Using this technology, the pumps can provide underfloor heating and warm water for your home. This will help lower your fuel bills, as well as your carbon footprint.

An air source pump should keep you warm throughout the winter, generating heat when the outside temperature is above -15° C. Installing a system will you cost around £7,000-£11,000, so they can be an intimidating investment, but the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) should sweeten the deal. Depending on your current heating system, you could earn around £905-£1,365 from RHI payments each year. When combined with annual fuel bill savings of between £295 and £1,805, you could cover the costs of a system in just six years.

Richard Sexton is business development director of e.surv chartered surveyors.