The rising cost of living has seen huge spikes in energy prices over the past few years, with around four in 10 energy bill payers struggling to afford their payments — according to data gathered by the Office of National Statistics in November and December 2023.
Gloucestershire households can protect themselves from these fluctuating energy costs by retrofitting their homes, installing energy-efficiency measures to make their property more energy-self-sufficient. If you're considering home improvements in 2024, here's eight things to keep in mind as you start your retrofit journey...
Be clear on your goals
There are many options for energy-efficiency retrofitting, from improving insulation and draught-proofing to keep the heat in, to creating your own renewable energy source by installing solar panels — all of which offer ways to save energy and keep the bills down.
Before settling on home improvements, have a clear set of goals: do you want to use less energy or generate your own? Is the main goal to save on bills, live a greener lifestyle or increase the value of your property?
Set a budget
The next step is establishing how much you want to spend on retrofitting your home. Go into the process with an idea of the amount you're prepared to invest.
Home energy advisers from Severn Wye can help you to calculate the payback period of your investment, to work out if your annual cost saving will offset the initial cost of installing your energy-saving measures, if that's important to you.
Look into financial support
Retrofitting can be costly, but there's financial help out there for people looking to make energy-efficiency improvements to their home — with numerous government support schemes having helped over two million households make game-changing energy-efficiency improvements in the last decade.
Investigate what grants and financial assistance are available for people in your situation and for the measures you're interested in. For more information, visit warmandwell.co.uk/grants-and-funding.
Get expert, impartial advice
Doing your research is important and there's a lot of information out there about the different energy-saving measures you can install in your home.
Installers are naturally going to push their own products, so getting some expert, impartial advice on what measures are right for you is key. Households in Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire can get help from Severn Wye, with its team of home energy advisers able to recommend the best solutions for you and your property — taking your lifestyle and budget into account.
You can apply for free personalised energy advice from Severn Wye via severnwye.org.uk/sgh until March 2025.
Draw up a roadmap with expert help
Once you've decided on the energy-efficiency improvements you want to make in your home, set out an action plan to understand what needs to happen first.
It's wise to think about which measures will work well together and if there's anything that won't work well on its own — Severn Wye's experts can help you to create a bespoke plan for your retrofit works.
Get the basics right first
Make sure you've got the basics covered. Consider measures to exclude draughts by blocking up any gaps to stop warm air escaping your home — check the seals around your windows and any open spaces around cables and pipes, which can be sealed at little expense.
Seek advice on insulating your property, too; while it's an effective way to retain energy and keep your house warm, choosing the wrong insulation can cause damp and mould.
Don't rule your house out
It's not surprising that the age of a property has the biggest impact on its overall energy efficiency, with older homes much more likely to have a lower EPC rating than newly built houses.
Making home improvements to older houses can be more complex, but it's possible — Severn Wye's retrofit specialists can provide support to help every home reach its potential, even those considered too difficult to improve due to their location or construction.
Learn how your new energy-saving measures work
Once the work is done and your home is kitted out with energy-saving improvements, make sure you take the time to understand how your new measures work.
Don't let the installers leave until you have a solid understanding of how to operate any new systems and technologies. The Severn Wye team can also provide additional advice to help you make the most of your retrofit works, offering follow-up support to check the installation and set-up, too.