The average UK home spends over £1,000 on energy each year, making it one of the biggest annual expenses for homeowners.
Making sure your home is running efficiently will help to keep your energy bills as possible. One way to do this is with a home energy audit, an energy assessment that you can do yourself.
What is a home energy audit?
A home energy audit, or energy assessment, involves finding areas where a property is losing energy and coming up with solutions to make it more efficient.
Home energy audits include an assessment of the property and appliances, as well as energy usage and habits. There are 2 ways to perform a home energy audit:
- Hire a professional assessor
- Carry out a DIY audit
What are the benefits of a home energy audit?
Heat loss means that heat from your central heating is able to escape, meaning that your system only has to work harder, increasing your energy bills as a result.
By performing a home energy audit will help you to identify areas where your home is losing heat and wasting energy. Once it’s known how the heat is escaping, it’s then possible to put a plan into place to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
- Lower energy bills
- Makes homes more comfortable
- Puts less strain on the central heating system
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An energy performance certificate (EPC) displays the efficiency rating of a building from the lowest ‘G’ rating up to an ‘A’ rating. If you’re looking to sell your property then getting an EPC certificate is vital as it indicates:
- Cost of heating the home
- Cost of lighting
- CO2 emissions
If you need an EPC for your property then you’ll need to make sure that the professional you hire is an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor.
How much does a home energy audit cost?
Home energy audit costs vary but usually fall between £60 and £120 so it’s a good idea to compare multiple quotes before hiring someone.
Alternatively, it’s possible to carry out a home energy audit yourself but you won’t get an Energy Performance Certificate.
How do I carry out a home energy audit?
The first thing you should do when looking to make your home more energy efficient is to take a look over your energy bills. This will help you to see where you might be overspending and make the appropriate changes.
In addition to this, if your energy bills have suddenly shot up, you might want to take a look at your central heating system. If the radiators aren’t heating up or are only partially heating up, which will take longer for the room to reach the desired temperature, they might need to be bled.
You can find several online tools to help you assess the energy usage of your home with The Energy Saving Trust offering a comprehensive online tool. You’ll be asked for some information about your property and once that’s been provided they’ll be able to recommend energy saving improvements with how much you might be able to save on your energy bills.
In order to perform an audit like this you should try and gather as much information as you can, using this home energy audit checklist:
- Your property type (house, flat, bungalow etc.)
- When your home was built
- How you heat your home
- How many rooms you have
- What kind of walls, flooring and roof you have (plus any information about insulation)
- The type of windows and doors in your property
- Your appliances and how you use them
Rather than using an online tool, it’s also possible to find energy audit checklists that can be printed out and filled in.
On top of carrying out an energy audit like this you can physically check your home for any areas where warmth might escape and cold draughts could get in.
Gaps can be found all over your home and this includes places like vents, window & door frames, attic hatches and locations where cables enter your home. If you are unsure if you have air leaks, you can run a DIY building pressurisation test.
What is a DIY building pressurisation test?
A DIY building pressurisation test will allow you to see where air might be escaping your home. To carry out the test, follow these steps:
- Close any doors or windows in your home;
- Turn off any heating or combustion appliances;
- If you have them, run any extractor fans or exhaust vents to suck some of the air from your home;
- Light an incense stick and slowly run it around areas where you believe there could be an air leak;
- If the smoke is sucked through the gap or blown around, you likely have an air leak in this area.
If you have smoke alarms or your rental agreement doesn’t allow them, there is an alternative method. Rather than using an incense stick to detect leaks, if you think there’s a hole in a window or door, fill the gap with a piece of paper and if you can easily move it through the gap, you’ve probably found a leak.
Alternatively, for ground floor properties, from the outside shine a torch through areas you think might have a leak and ask someone inside the property to let you know if they can see the light. If they’re able to, then heat is able to escape through those gaps too.
When to have a home energy audit
If your energy bills are slowly on the rise or have suddenly shot up, it’s never too soon to carry out a home energy audit. Finding the areas where your property could improve in terms of energy efficiency will help you to reduce those bills sooner rather than later.
When it comes to concerns about heat loss, it might be a good idea to arrange the audit ahead of the winter. That way, your home will be ready for the cold winter months ahead.
Energy saving tips
As well as carrying out a home energy audit, we’ve provided some energy saving tips that will help to reduce your bills:
- Fit energy saving light bulbs
- Turn off thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) in rooms not being used
- Set the thermostat 1° lower
- Seal gaps around windows
- Install a new central heating system
- Replace old or damaged windows
- Increase the insulation around the property
While some of these energy saving steps can seem costly, the reductions they can make to your energy bills over the years could see you eventually earn a return on your investment.