An energy efficient home

Making your home more energy efficient

Want to make your home more energy efficient in the long term? Keep reading.

Especially if you’re planning some house renovations because you should think about building energy efficiency into your home.

Scroll down to read six of the best ways to maximise energy efficiency and minimise heat loss.

  1. Insulate your walls
  2. Insulate the floors
  3. Install roof insulation
  4. Choose the right heating
  5. Install energy-efficient glazing
  6. Fit energy-efficient lighting

But first.. what’s the problem?

Houses in the UK are the least energy-efficient in Europe, according to a 2022 report by research by the Institute for Government. They are also among the oldest, with over half built before 1965 and 20 per cent before 1919. They are often poorly insulated and leak precious heat. With energy prices at an all-time high, this is bad news for British homeowners – and the climate.

New building regulations

It’s no wonder that the UK government has made a legal commitment to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To help achieve this, we need to build low/no carbon homes and improve the energy performance of our existing homes.

The new rules are based on the conservation of fuel and power. They include higher performance targets, more emphasis on low-carbon heating systems and new energy efficiency standards for the fabric of a building. And not just for new homes. So, what does this mean for the homeowner planning a building or remodelling project?

New building regulations = energy efficiency = lower bills

The new rules aim to minimise heat loss from the fabric of a building or, if you prefer, to maximise thermal efficiency. This is known as a u-value and the better-insulated a structure is, the lower the u-value will be.

When you make changes to your home the entire new space must conform to the new regulations. What does this mean if you’re building an extension, having a loft conversion or knocking down internal walls to create an open-plan space?

Build energy efficiency into your plans

energy efficiency

Your new walls, floors, windows, doors and roofs and other materials must meet the new standards. This isn’t a choice; you must satisfy the new building regulations to receive your certificate of compliance.

The good news is that the measures will save you money in the long term and create a more comfortable home to live in. If you’re creating a larger area to heat, think about how to keep it snug without a corresponding increase in your bills.

If a building or remodelling project is on the cards, I can help you build energy efficiency into your plans and advise where you can upgrade other parts of your home at the same time.

– Carl

Six of the best ways to maximise energy efficiency and minimise heat loss.

  1. Insulate your walls
  2. Insulate the floors
  3. Install roof insulation
  4. Choose the right heating
  5. Install energy-efficient glazing
  6. Fit energy-efficient lighting
1. Wall insulation 

energy efficiency

Insulating your home is the best way to help maintain a constant temperature. Let’s start with the walls.

Your house will have solid walls or cavity walls, and both can be insulated in different ways. Solid walls can be insulated from the inside or the outside and it’s more expensive than cavity wall insulation, but will save more money on energy.

Cavity walls are made of two layers with a small gap or ‘cavity’ between them that is injected with a special insulating material from the outside.

Building your extension using cavity concrete blocks over regular bricks will mean that you can use external wall insulation (EWI) which performs well. If your extension is built with cavity walls the cavity will be filled with insulation as the work proceeds. Both will help with energy efficiency.

Insulation between all building ‘elements’ should be linked to prevent thermal bridging – where a direct connection between the inside and outside of the house creates a cold spot.

2. Insulating the floors

Cold air rises so it makes sense to insulate your home from the ground up. In newer houses, the ground floor is made of solid concrete, which can be insulated by laying sheets of rigid insulation on top.

Older homes are most likely to have suspended timber floors. These are usually insulated with mineral wool insulation and placed under the floorboards between the joists. If you are installing any kind of new flooring, consider installing the best insulation you can afford at the same time.

3. Roof insulation

Insulating your roof

Adding insulation to your roof to prevent heat loss is not a new idea. But even if you did this just a few years ago, you must revisit it if you’re renewing more than 25 per cent of the roof.

Traditional insulation comprises rolls of mineral wool between the joists. Alternatively, you could fit rigid insulation boards between and over the rafters, which is a job for a specialist. You must make sure that all the walls and ceilings between a heated room and an unheated space are insulated.

Check out the planning portal for the latest guidance on insulation.


A well-insulated home is a warm home. But you must consider the effect your extension or remodel will have on the air circulation in and around the house.

Building Regulations require your extension to have adequate ventilation to avoid condensation and damp. This could be as simple as an opening window with a ‘trickle vent’ or fitting airbricks into the new build.

4. Heating your space


In recent decades, UK homes have relied on traditional boilers and gas central heating. That may be set to change with the government’s zero carbon goal and an imminent ban on new gas boilers.

Air-source heat pumps are being hotly debated, but currently, these are pricey and rely on homes being well-insulated and – as we said earlier – the UK has a great deal of older poorly insulated houses.

The debate around boilers versus heat pumps is lengthy and complex and far from over as we grapple with the relatively new technology.

If you’re considering remodelling or extending your home, we recommend you do your research – then do some more. Talk to your architect or builder, who can advise how the changes you’re making may affect your decision. For example, you will likely have to replace radiators. The Energy Saving Trust is a valuable source of independent advice.


Your choice of radiators may be dictated by your primary heat source – boiler, heat pump or even oil central heating or electric heating. It may also be affected by new building regulations.

The latest rules state that the maximum ‘flow temperature’ in a central heating system is now 55°C (previously over 75°C). This is driving the need for larger steel panel radiators because they must provide high heat outputs with low flow temperatures. In turn, this could cause you issues with location, room layout and aesthetics.

All new radiators must now have thermostatic radiator valves (TRV) which will also help zone your heating.

 – Hybrid radiators

A normal radiator is heated by the central heating boiler. Hybrid radiators combine power from the boiler with electricity and can be used to heat just one room or to heat a room quickly.

 – Underfloor heating

This heating system is also easy to run but it takes longer for a room to heat. This is a tricky trade off but consider how you live and use the space. Are you at home a lot during the day? Do you like to keep the house at a constant temperature? Talk to other people who have underfloor heating and discuss the pros and cons. For more information on costs, we think that they are explained rather well by the clever folk at Look After My Bills.

5. Choosing your glazing

Over 25 per cent of the heat from our homes escapes through the windows and other glazing. Despite the technical advances in glazing and frames, it still means that the amount of glass you can use in a kitchen extension for example will affect that all-important u-value.

   The trend for glass

is glass energy efficient

That new kitchen extension might look fabulous with a glass roof and doors, but spaces with more than 25 per cent glazing will need to demonstrate that the entire structure meets the energy performance standards. New windows, roof lights and doors, including bifold or patio doors, also need to meet the new u-values. Have a conversation with your architect or builder about how much glass could make heat loss a problem before you make decisions.

Not all the changes to building regulations are based on heat loss. Some are aimed at reducing heat from the sun coming into your home and ensuring excess heat can escape. You may want more light, but with temperatures nudging 40 degrees in some recent summers, this is another reason to consider the ratio of glass you use in the home. Bricks and mortar will always beat glass for thermal efficiency.

6. Energy-efficient lighting

choose energy efficient lighting

Choosing the lighting and where to place it is another item on your to-do list requiring some advance thought. Arrange light switches so it is easy to turn them off, for example, place switches for rooms at the door.

Use sensors or timers on external lights, so they are only on when they need to be.

The Energy Saving Trust has some great advice on choosing lighting for your home.

The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, does not constitute professional advice and does not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any company or organisation. Readers should always seek professional advice before undertaking any action based on the information contained in this article. The author makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, or suitability of the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the article for any purpose.o

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