Whether you’re looking for home energy-saving ideas or inspiration for home improvements to add value, we’ve got everything you need to get started.
With energy costs constantly changing, there’s often concern around rising bills and the impact this could have on personal finances.
By making certain energy efficiency improvements to your home, you could cut the cost of your energy bills and add value to your property.
Whether that’s a small DIY job, an upgrade to energy efficient home heating or a larger renovation project, it’s important to know how you’ll fund your improvements before you start.
What you'll learn
- 6 ways to lower your home’s energy costs – and what you could save
- What could I save on energy bills?
- Secured loan for home improvement
- Unsecured loan for home improvement
- Applying for a home improvement loan
6 ways to lower your home’s energy costs – and what you could save
From handy tips to full-scale renovations, here are some home energy-saving ideas to slash your costs.
The savings we’ve calculated for each potential home improvement are based on terraced housing and come from data sourced by the Energy Saving Trust.
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save money through energy home improvements.
DIY draught-proofing starts at just over £3 for a roll of self-adhesive draught-excluding tape. Block up unwanted gaps around windows, doors and chimneys that let cold air in and warm air out. Doing this could save around £669 on fuel after 5 years.
What you’ll spend: £3
What you’ll save: £669 after 5 years
2. Roof insulation
As much as a quarter of the heat in your home can be lost if your roof isn’t insulated. This is similar to you going out in cold weather without a hat on.
The loft of a mid-terrace house costs around £500 to insulate with 270mm insulation. This could save you over £2,000 on bills after 5 years. You’ll also reduce your carbon footprint by about 530kg every year, which improves your home’s energy efficiency rating.
What you’ll spend: £500
What you’ll save: £2,000 after 5 years
3. Wall insulation
About a third of the heat in your home is lost through uninsulated walls. The age of your home will usually determine the type of walls you have, as well as the cost of insulation.
Solid walls let twice as much heat escape as cavity walls. Insulating solid walls can be more expensive, but you’ll enjoy greater savings on your heating bills.
Cavity insulation for an average mid-terrace house costs roughly £620, with savings of over £1,600 after 5 years, saving 415kg of carbon each year.
What you’ll spend: £620
What you’ll save: £1,600 after 5 years
4. Upgrade your boiler
Boilers are improving in energy efficiency all the time, making them one of the most practical home energy-saving ideas – if you’re already looking to replace yours. While a new model could cost around £4,000 including radiator valves, you could save almost £3,000 on bills within 5 years if you’re in a mid-terrace house.
Switching to an energy efficient home heating method, such as a new boiler, will also reduce your household’s carbon footprint by 1.92 tonnes of CO2 every year.
What you’ll spend: £4,000
What you’ll save: £3,000 within 5 years
20% of your home’s heat can be lost through standard windows. Energy efficient double-glazed windows could save you over £2,600 in heating bills over 5 years. Plus, you’ll be sure to enjoy the peace and quiet that goes along with double-glazing.
Installation costs average out at around £4,500 for A-rated PVC windows in the average semi, compared to around £15,000 for A-rated hardwood windows. Double-glazed windows can reduce the CO2 emissions of a typical household by three quarters of a tonne every year.
What you’ll spend: £4,500
What you’ll save: £2,600 over 5 years
6. Installing solar panels
These days, an average solar set-up will cost £6,500 all-in. But if you’re a householder who’s home all day, it’s estimated that a 4.2kW set-up will save you £1,028 a year – that’s over £5,000 in 5 years.
Most homes have upwards of 12 panels. That will save around 10.8 tonnes of carbon every year, not to mention money paid back to you thanks to the Smart Export Guarantee.
What you’ll spend: £6,500
Savings after five years: £5,000 in 5 years
What could I save on energy bills?
While each change could lead to some savings, combining several could see those savings stack up. Follow up your £3 spend on draught-proofing with an investment in roof and wall insulation, and you could see savings reach £3,109 in the following 5 years.
Some of the more significant changes may seem unaffordable due to their high initial outlay. If that’s the case for you, speak to us about loans for home improvements. This way, you can pay the money back over time instead of in one bulk payment.
Secured loan for home improvement
Getting a loan for home improvements, such as a secured loan for bigger projects, can be an effective way to borrow larger amounts of money that you need to get the job done. This type of borrowing is secured against your home, giving you the ability to borrow a larger amount.
However, it’s important to make sure you can afford repayments before you take out such a loan, as failure to repay could put your house at risk.
Secured loans can also be a better option when carrying out larger-scale home energy efficiency improvements or general upgrades. They allow you to borrow more money over a longer period and generally have a lower rate of interest than other products.
Fitting a new kitchen
As the focal point of a home, giving your existing kitchen a stylish and modern look can help attract potential buyers. This is why renovating your kitchen is essential to provide that ready-made desirable space, which could increase the value of your property by an average of between 5-15%.
Consumer watchdog Which? found that a new kitchen could cost less than £7,000, but obviously costs can go much higher. If you’re thinking of fitting a new kitchen to improve your house value, remember that spending a fortune won’t necessarily give you the best return on your investment. Replacing door and drawer fronts and fitting a new worktop will often achieve the same results for a fraction of the cost.
If you’re looking to build your dream kitchen, here’s the average installation cost of certain aspects based on estimates:
- Kitchen worktops - £195-£460
- New tiles - £65 per square metre
- Underfloor heating - £130-£165 per square metre
- Extractor fan - £190-£220
- Kitchen cabinets - £40-£55 per unit
- Kitchen sink and taps - £160-£210
Adding an extra bathroom
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) found that adding an extra bathroom or creating an en-suite could add as much as 6% to your asking price. Just try to avoid sacrificing a bedroom in order to create your bathroom, as this could undo any potential increase in value.
A full bathroom will usually require a space of at least 1.7 x 2.6 metres, whereas a shower room can squeeze into an area as small as 1 x 2.8 metres – not much more than you would need for fitted wardrobes.
A new bathroom can cost anywhere from £2,500 to £10,000, depending on your location and choice of fixtures and fittings. Fortunately, unless you’re building an extension, you shouldn’t require planning permission – although any work will have to comply with Building Regulations. For more information, visit the planning permission portal.
There’s a lot you can do when adding a new bathroom or improving an existing space – from flooring and tiles to bathroom suites or wet rooms. Here’s an idea of the average price for different types of installations based on estimates:
- Wet room kit - £1,650-£1,900
- Underfloor heating - £260-£290 for average size bathroom
- Standard bath - £370-£400
- Pedestal basin - £330-£360
- Bathroom tiles - £100-£120 per square metre
- Shower enclosure - £510-£540
Building a new conservatory
Conservatories can be one of the more costly home improvements, but they’re also one of the most valuable. Not only does it give you a new place to read and relax, or add space to your home, it can also increase the value by an average of 5%.
Adding a conservatory doesn’t require planning permission if the floor area is less than half that of the original house. You can also avoid Building Regulations, provided that at least half of the walls and three quarters of the roof are glazed or transparent, and the conservatory is separated from the rest of the house by an external door.
You can make the addition of a conservatory a more energy efficient home improvement by opting for A-rated double-glazing or adding a solid, insulated roof.
Fitting new windows
New windows and doors are an excellent idea for anyone considering selling up – kerb appeal is a huge influence when it comes to selling your home. This is why it’s vital the property looks as good on the outside as it does inside.
The addition of new windows is also one of the most energy efficient home improvements you can make, with around 18% of an average home’s heat loss occurring through windows.
Adding a loft conversion
Adding an extra bedroom – especially if it’s a loft conversion – can add 10% to 20% of your property value, depending on the size and specification of the conversion.
The cost of a conversion varies, from about £15,000 for a small loft up to £40,000 for a large one, depending on the size and location of your property.
In many cases, provided you don’t live in a listed building, conservation area, national park or area of outstanding natural beauty, you won’t need planning permission as a conversion will fall within your permitted development rights. Make sure you contact your local planning authority to check no restrictions apply to your property.
Adding substantial loft insulation can be a cost-effective method to improve the energy efficiency rating of your home and reduce your bills.
Unsecured loan for home improvement
For those for whom secured borrowing isn’t an option, or who are carrying out smaller DIY projects, unsecured loans can be a viable way to fund your home improvements.
This type of loan for home improvement doesn’t require you to secure your loan against any of your assets. However, this means you are likely to be able to borrow less and will have higher interest on your borrowing.
Unsecured loans can be easier to obtain if you already have a good credit rating, as lenders may see you as a lower risk.
Unsecured loans can be a good way to obtain the money you need to carry out smaller home improvement jobs, such as:
Maintaining the exterior
The job of maintaining your home’s exterior isn’t just about keeping up appearances. It’s about protecting and preserving timber, tiles and stone from the elements for many years to come.
Maintenance of your home’s exterior could include the following estimated costs:
- Removing (raking out) old mortar - £20-£50 per square metre
- Repointing a brick wall - £55 per square metre
- Repainting/rendering exterior - £775-£1,100
- Cladding exterior - £20 per square metre (uPVC), £42 per square metre (timber)
- Repointing roof - £1,250
Decking can really lift a garden, provide a lovely place to relax, an area to socialise and add an extra ‘room’ to your home.
Decking a space of around 15 square metres would cost roughly £1,500. However, the materials used, overall size of decking and labour costs will vary significantly.
Giving your garden a facelift
Refreshing the garden can really give your home a new lease of life, whether you’re installing a flower bed, replacing the lawn/fencing or taking on a more ambitious project. If light is an issue, consider removing the trees that block out the sun. Building a pretty rockery or pond can make your garden more appealing.
Depending on the level of improvement you wish to carry out, a garden facelift may cost you around £5,000 to £10,000. This would cover costs for hiring a designer to realise your dream space. If you are on a tighter budget, you may wish to overhaul the lawn. Turfing is a cost-effective way to add value, with turf and laying costing around £25 per square metre.
Laying a new driveway
A smart driveway, whether pebbled or paved, gives a property a cared-for, welcoming appearance all year round, as well as giving you an extra car parking space off the road.
The materials used affect the overall estimated cost of a new driveway. Gravel is often the cheapest option, costing as little as £40 per square metre. More expensive options will add more value to your home. You may choose tarmac (roughly £50 to £70 per square metre) or opt for concrete, which is estimated at around £80 per square metre.
Applying for a home improvement loan
Loans for home improvement provide cash upfront to begin your project. Personal loans are paid back monthly, though the total repayment term is flexible. Unsecured personal loans are generally more expensive, with higher interest, but aren’t secured against assets like your home.
With a loan for home improvement, you’ll have a fixed rate on repayments, meaning you know exactly what you will pay month-on-month, but you must be certain you can keep up with the repayment schedule. Consider the total cost of the work, and any contingencies should the work go over, or if the project becomes larger than you expected.
Can I borrow more on my mortgage for home improvements?
You can borrow more on your mortgage or even remortgage with another lender to raise funds for home energy efficiency improvements. While it’s an easy way to access cash quickly, it can change the terms of your mortgage. These changes to your mortgage may increase your monthly payments or increase the length of your repayment. There may also be additional fees if you seek another lender.
Can you get a home improvement loan for a pool?
You can get a home improvement loan for a pool using the methods highlighted above. This is a valid form of home renovation, and as long as you can show you can make the repayments, a lender should be willing to lend you the cash to fund a pool.
How do you improve energy efficiency?
There are many ways to make energy efficiency improvements to your home. Depending on your budget and current home condition, you may want to improve the heating system, windows and doors or add loft insulation. These improvements will help your home to contain the heat generated and will likely reduce your overall energy bill.
Which home improvements add the most value in the UK?
Generally, renovating and extending any part of your property should add value to your home. Loft conversions can add 10-20% to your property’s value, depending on the individual specifications. Upgrading your kitchen or bathroom can also add value, provided that the quality of the work is sufficient.
How can I reduce my electricity consumption at home in the UK?
There are many home energy-saving ideas that can make an impact on your energy consumption and your bills. Draught-proofing your home is a cheap and effective way to increase energy efficiency. Bigger projects could include wall or roof insulation, or upgrading to a newer, more energy efficient boiler.
Looking for more money-saving tips? Head to the Norton Finance Know How hub.