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Making your home more energy-efficient — Green finance options

You might have heard about “green mortgages” and “property-linked energy efficiency finance.” Don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds!

Green mortgages are like regular mortgages, but they have extra benefits for making your home more eco-friendly. They can make it easier and sometimes more affordable for you to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency. Big banks and building societies like Barclays, Nationwide, NatWest, and Virgin Money offer these special mortgages, giving you plenty of options.

When you choose a green mortgage, you’re not just saving money

You’re also helping the environment. These mortgages are often connected to making your home more energy-efficient. Think of it as a win-win situation! You can enjoy lower fees, better interest rates, and even cashback on larger loans whilst reducing your energy bill and making your home more valuable at the same time.  

To determine which upgrades will save you the most energy and money, you can get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It helps you identify ways to make your home more energy-efficient.

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Did you know that many people now see the importance of energy efficiency? Research by the Green Finance Institute found that 83% of people think it’s crucial. They want to reduce their energy bills and help the environment.

With rising energy costs and international events like COP26, hosted by the UK in 2021, almost everyone thinks about energy efficiency. Nearly 90% of homeowners consider it necessary, a significant change from just a year ago.

But here’s the catch: most homeowners find it hard to pay their energy bills, which is why energy efficiency is so important. In the past, only about 25% of people considered using green mortgages to make their homes more energy-efficient. But now, with rising interest rates and prices, more people are looking for ways to save on energy bills.

The Green Finance Institute thinks investing in energy efficiency is a great idea.

They say it’s a way to make our homes better for the environment and more affordable for us. But here’s the challenge: making UK homes energy-efficient could cost around £250 billion by 2050. That’s a lot of money! We need help from the government, private companies and individuals to make it happen.

Remember the “UK Green Deal”? It was supposed to help people make their homes more energy-efficient without paying everything upfront. But it didn’t work out so well. Why? Well, it had some issues in its design and complexity, and it failed to reach enough people. The marketing and promotion were ineffective. It was hardly surprising when those responsible for promoting the scheme were the same energy companies profiting from selling energy! 

But don’t worry, there’s hope! The UK government is considering a new way to help homeowners make their homes more energy-efficient. It’s called “Property-Linked Finance for Home Energy Efficiency,” it’s all about reducing emissions, reaching environmental goals, and getting lots of private investment.

So, what is this “Property-Linked Finance” thing? It’s yet to be available in the UK, but it’s a big deal in the US and worldwide. Basically, it’s a way to get money for energy efficiency improvements that stay with your home even if you sell it.

This new approach inspired by the “Property Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) program in the United States has many benefits, like making it easier to pay for energy upgrades, increasing the value of your property, and even making your home more attractive to buyers.

One of the best things about Property-Linked Finance is that you don’t have to worry about paying it all back right away. It sticks with your property so that you can enjoy energy savings right from the start.

And it’s not just about saving money; it’s also about making your home more comfortable and healthier. It can help with issues like dampness, mould, and cold, which many people struggle with. Plus, it could reduce healthcare costs too!

More positives – Property-linked Finance should create jobs and boost the economy

It’s a win-win for everyone. Plus, it helps the environment by reducing carbon emissions and supports the UK’s net-zero emissions goal.

Even financial institutions are interested because it offers new investment opportunities and reduces risks. It’s a win for them too!

We need help from the government, financial institutions, and the retrofit industry to make this happen. If we work together, we can make our homes more energy-efficient and do our part for the planet.

For more information, you can visit the Green Finance Institute. They have all the details about how to make your home more energy-efficient and simultaneously help the environment!

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Energy Efficiency and EPCs — A Guide for Homeowners, Renters and Landlords

Understanding UK Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) 

Anyone who has bought, sold or rented a house in the last few years will be familiar with Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). Featured as a coloured graphic at the bottom of the Estate Agents’ particulars, these charts suddenly became more important as energy prices soared. Below, we describe what EPCs are, how they are calculated, their historical background, their advice to homeowners, and their legal requirements.

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The UK implemented Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) in 2007. To help homeowners, tenants, and businesses make informed decisions about energy usage and understand a building’s energy efficiency. 

EPCs offer vital knowledge about a property’s energy efficiency, provide recommendations for occupiers/owners to reduce energy consumption, and give potential buyers/renters an idea of the home’s running costs. That quaint crumbling cottage might not be so attractive if keeping warm is expensive.

What are Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)?

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are official documents that assess and rate the energy efficiency of a building. These certificates provide information about the energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with the property and recommendations for improving its energy efficiency. EPCs are legally required in the UK when a property is built, sold, or rented — in 2018, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were introduced for rental properties. 

The primary purpose of an EPC is to provide potential buyers or tenants with an insight into the energy efficiency of a property, allowing them to make knowledgeable decisions regarding their energy usage and related costs. Additionally, EPCs help identify areas where improvements can be made to enhance a property’s energy efficiency, benefiting both the environment and the occupants.

EPC Calculation and Rating Methodology

The calculation and rating methodology used in EPCs is based on various factors related to a building’s construction, insulation, heating systems, and energy consumption. Trained assessors, who may be independent or appointed by accredited organisations, carry out assessments to generate EPCs. The assessments involve examining different aspects of the property, such as its size, construction materials, heating systems, insulation levels, and ventilation.

The EPC rating is presented on a scale ranging from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). Similar to appliance labelling. The rating is determined by calculating the total energy usage per square meter of the property and comparing it to a benchmark figure for comparable buildings. Allowing for a standardised and fair comparison between different properties, regardless of size or type.

The EPC also includes a numerical indicator called the Energy Efficiency Rating, which ranges from 1 to 100. A higher score signifies greater energy efficiency. The EPC report provides a breakdown of the property’s current energy efficiency, potential for improvement, and estimated energy costs.

Historical Backdrop

Energy Performance Certificates were introduced in the UK in 2007 due to the European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which aimed to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in buildings across Europe. The UK government implemented the directive through the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.

Since their introduction, EPCs have become an integral part of the property market in the UK. They serve as a tool to increase understanding about energy consumption, promote energy efficiency, and help achieve national and international environmental goals.

Advice for Homeowners to Reduce Energy Usage

One of the critical benefits of EPCs is the advice they provide to homeowners on reducing energy consumption and improving their properties energy efficiency. This guidance is handy for those looking to lower their energy bills, minimise their environmental impact, and create a more comfortable living space. The recommendations offered in EPC reports are tailored to each specific property, considering its unique characteristics and current energy performance.

EPCs guidance typically covers a range of areas, including:

Insulation Improvements — the fabric of the building 

EPCs often recommend insulation improvements to enhance a property’s energy efficiency. This may involve adding or upgrading insulation in walls, roofs, and floors to reduce heat loss and retain warmth within the building. Proper insulation can significantly reduce the need for excessive heating, resulting in energy savings and increased comfort.

Heating Systems — controls and upgrades

Efficient heating systems play a vital role in reducing energy consumption. EPCs offer advice on upgrading or optimising heating systems, including installing energy-efficient boilers, smart thermostats, and programmable controls. These measures help regulate temperature and reduce energy wastage, lowering energy bills.

The EPC rating considers the cost of heating and powering the dwelling, favouring gas heating due to historically lower gas prices. As a result, EPCs commonly suggest new gas boilers over low-carbon heat pumps. However, recent increases in energy prices have narrowed the gap between gas and electricity prices, making heat pump running costs comparable to gas boilers for many homes. Despite this, the EPC rating system has not yet reflected this change. The government has an action plan to improve EPC calculations, but until then, replacing a gas boiler with a heat pump may reduce the EPC score.

Lighting and Appliances — low-cost, simple recommendations 

The choice of lighting and household appliances can considerably impact energy usage. EPCs often recommend switching to energy-efficient lighting solutions, such as LED bulbs, which consume significantly less electricity while providing the same brightness level. 

Currently, EPCs do not include appliances as they are not part of the fabric of the building. Even though replacing old and inefficient appliances with energy-saving models will result in substantial energy and cost savings over time. 

Renewable Energy Sources — long-term investments

EPC reports may suggest installing renewable energy technologies, such as solar PV panels and wind turbines, to generate clean energy on-site. These renewable sources can supplement or replace traditional energy sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions and energy bills.

Legal Requirements for Sellers and Landlords

EPCs have been a legal requirement in the UK since 2008 for all domestic and non-domestic properties, whether new or existing, that are sold, rented, or newly constructed. The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007, later amended in 2012 and 2013, outline the specific legal obligations related to EPCs.

The law requires property owners, including homeowners and landlords, to obtain an EPC before marketing a property for sale or rent. The certificate must be made available to potential buyers or tenants, allowing them to assess the property’s energy performance and associated costs. Failure to comply with these legal conditions can result in penalties and financial consequences.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Requirements for Rental Properties

Since 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) have been in effect in England and Wales, requiring rental properties to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of A to E for legal renting. MEES was introduced in 2015 and made it illegal for landlords to rent properties with an EPC rating below E, meaning poorly insulated F or G-rated homes couldn’t be offered for rent until their rating improved.

The government plans to strengthen MEES further by 2025, only allowing new rental homes with the highest ratings of A, B, or C. Many landlords are unaware of potential rule changes.

EPCs last for ten years, but if legislative changes are implemented, landlords may need a valid EPC at all times, even with the same tenants.

Landlords can be fined for not having a valid EPC, with proposals to raise the fine to £30,000 by 2025. To prepare for potential changes, landlords should check their property’s current EPC and consider improvements to boost the rating, such as insulation, double-glazed windows, or a new boiler.

In Scotland, all privately rented homes must have an EPC rating between A and E since March 2022, with new tenancies requiring a rating of D or above since April 2022. All rented homes must be rated D or above by 31 March 2025. In Northern Ireland, EPCs are mandatory for property sales or rentals, but no specific minimum standard is required.

The UK government offers financial assistance for energy-efficient improvements, and landlords should check if their local council provides any incentives for such modifications.

Commitment to Reducing Carbon Emissions

The introduction of EPCs as a legal requirement reflects the UK government’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions, promoting energy efficiency, and raising awareness about the environmental impact of buildings. It empowers individuals to make informed decisions regarding energy consumption and encourages property owners to invest in energy-saving measures.

EPCs Offer Practical Advice to Homeowners, Landlords and Commercial Tenants.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) serve as essential tools in the UK to assess and rate the energy efficiency of buildings. They provide valuable information about energy consumption, carbon emissions, and potential cost savings. EPCs also offer practical advice to occupiers and owners, helping them make informed decisions on energy-saving measures. With the legal requirement to have an EPC when selling a property, the UK government ensures that energy efficiency remains a priority, promoting sustainability and supporting the transition towards a greener future.

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Home solar panels and battery energy storage explained

Solar panels have become an increasingly popular choice for homeowners in the UK, and for a good reason. Installing solar panels can help reduce household bills, generate electricity for your home, and even earn you money through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of solar panels for micro-home generation and energy storage and how they can help you save money, outline the space requirements, and planning permission conditions. Going green is no longer just a buzzword; it’s a lifestyle many of us embrace to make our homes more eco-friendly. 

What are Solar Panels, and How do they Work?

Solar panels (PV) are devices that convert sunlight into electricity — consisting of photovoltaic cells that absorb light and convert it into electrical energy. The electricity generated by solar panels is DC (direct current), which is then converted to AC (alternating current) using an inverter. AC electricity is what we use in our homes to power our appliances, charge batteries for use at night, or send any surplus energy back to the grid.

Space Requirements for Solar Panels

The amount of space needed for solar panels depends on the size of the system and the amount of electricity you want to generate. For example, a 4kW solar panel system requires around 25 to 30 square metres of roof space. However, it’s worth noting that solar panels don’t have to be installed on a roof. They can also be placed on the ground or a wall using a solar panel bracket. South-facing areas are best, and any shading from buildings or trees should be minimised. 

Planning Permission Requirements

In most cases, you won’t need planning permission to install solar panels on your property. However, you must apply for planning permission if your property is a Listed Building or in a Conservation Area. It’s also worth checking with your local council to see if there are any other requirements or restrictions.

Benefits of Solar Panels for Micro Home Generation and Energy Storage

One of the main benefits of installing solar panels for micro-home generation and energy storage is that they can significantly reduce your energy bills. In addition, by generating your own electricity, you’ll be less reliant on the National Grid, so you’ll have to buy less electricity from energy suppliers. If you are an electric car owner charging on a sunny day, you’re effectively storing energy for free motoring!

Earn Money with the Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a government-backed scheme that allows you to earn money by exporting excess electricity back to the National Grid. Under the scheme, energy suppliers must offer a minimum tariff for each kilowatt-hour of electricity exported back to the grid.

Energy Storage for 24/7 Power

Connecting your solar panels to a battery storage system allows you to store excess electricity generated during the day for use at night. This means you’ll be able to power your home with solar energy 24/7, reducing your reliance on the National Grid even further.

Life Expectancy of Solar Panels and Batteries

The life expectancy of solar panels and batteries depends on various factors, such as the quality of the equipment, the amount of sunlight received, and how well they are maintained. On average, solar panels have a lifespan of around 25 years, while batteries have a lifespan of approximately 10-15 years. Unfortunately, from experience, inverters do not last as long as PV panels. However, there are insurance-backed guarantees available from many installers. Therefore, choosing an established energy provider installation should offer extra peace of mind and provide a gateway into selling surplus energy back to the grid.           

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Technology

Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology is an alternative to home battery storage that allows you to use the battery in your electric vehicle to power your home. This means you can use the excess energy generated by your solar panels to charge your electric vehicle during the day and then use the battery in your vehicle to power your home at night. V2G technology is still in its early stages but could potentially revolutionise how we generate and use electricity.

UK Energy Providers that Offer PV Installation Services

Several energy providers in the UK offer PV installation services, including Octopus, Good Energy, Ovo, British Gas, E.ON, and SSE. These companies can provide a complete solar panel system, including installation, maintenance, and monitoring. It’s worth comparing prices and services from different providers to find the best deal.

Increasing issues with energy security, climate change, and rising prices make home energy generation a viable option for homeowners. Especially if you are an electric car owner or considering switching from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

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Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) Technology: A New Way to Power Your Home and the Grid

Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology is a two-way power flow system that allows electric vehicles (EVs) to store and discharge electricity back to the grid. This technology can potentially deliver several benefits, including improving grid reliability, reducing peak demand, and providing backup power during outages.

Many different V2G models are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most common V2G models include:

* V2H: This model allows EVs to store off-peak, therefore cheaper electricity from the grid and discharge it back to the home during peak demand hours. Thus, reducing the amount of electricity that needs to be purchased from the grid, saving money on energy bills.

* V2G: Lets EVs to store electricity from the grid and discharge it back to the grid during high-demand periods — stabilizing the grid and reducing the need for expensive backup power generation plants.

* V2B: This could use EVs to store electricity from the grid and discharge it back to a building like an office or school, reducing the facility’s reliance on the grid, saving money on power bills and reducing carbon emissions, especially if the energy generated comes from a surplus renewable origin.

Vehicle-to-Grid — the Future for Electric Vehicles?

The benefits of V2G technology are considerable. V2G can help to improve grid reliability by providing a source of backup power during outages. It can also help reduce peak demand, saving money on energy costs and reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, V2G can provide a new source of revenue for EV owners, who can sell their excess electricity back to the grid.

Nevertheless, there are also some challenges associated with V2G technology. One challenge is that V2G requires bidirectional charging infrastructure, which is not yet widely available. Another challenge is that V2G can impact the range of EVs, as the battery will be used to store and discharge electricity. Additionally, V2G can be complex to manage, requiring coordination between the EV, the grid, and the utility company.

Despite the challenges, V2G technology has the potential to play a significant role in the future of the energy grid. V2G can help to improve grid reliability, reduce peak demand, and provide a new source of revenue for EV owners. As V2G technology develops, it will likely become more widely adopted.

Here are some of the models of EVs that are currently available with V2G capability:

  • Nissan Leaf: The Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular EVs on the market and one of the few available with V2G capability. The Leaf can store up to 30 kWh of electricity and discharge that electricity back to the grid at a rate of up to 3.3 kW.
  • Hyundai Ioniq 5: The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a new electric SUV that is also available with V2G capability. The Ioniq 5 can store up to 77.4 kWh of electricity and discharge that electricity back to the grid at a rate of up to 11 kW.
  • Kia EV6: The Kia EV6 is a new electric SUV that is also available with V2G capability. The EV6 can store up to 77.4 kWh of electricity and discharge that electricity back to the grid at a rate of up to 11 kW.
  • Ford F-150 Lightning: (US Market) The Ford F-150 Lightning is a new electric pickup truck that is also available with V2G capability. The Lightning can store up to 131 kWh of electricity and discharge that electricity back to the grid at a rate of up to 9.6 kW.

As V2G technology develops at pace, more and more EV models will likely be available with this capability. As a result, V2G can potentially provide several benefits for EV owners and the grid, and it is a technology worth watching.

UK innovative charging EV platforms with V2G & V2H capabilities.

UK energy suppliers are beginning to offer special tariffs for electric vehicle owners, from off-peak charging rates to dynamic pricing models which charge your vehicle when prices are low. The leading players are Octopus and OVO Energy. The key to this technology will be installing a bidirectional charging point in your home, which communicates with the relevant intelligent charging software platforms. These platforms will offer cheaper charging rates and allow you to return energy to the grid. Hopefully, at a profit!

These technologies offer opportunities to optimize the charging patterns of EV batteries, which should ultimately lead to longer battery life, alongside building a more balanced and efficient energy system where less energy goes to waste.

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Are air fryers more energy efficient than an oven or microwave?

Welcome to the world of Doll’s House energy-efficient cooking! Well, that’s the first impression of operating an Air Fryer; it’s tiny and compact. Not something you’re going to use for cooking this year’s Christmas turkey — that said, it could be handy for a whole manner of other tasty morsels if your oven is full. And very convenient for energy-saving cooking for smaller households this winter. 

Air Fryers Energy Efficiency is all about size — and a big fan.  

Size is what gives Air Fryers an advantage over your standard fan oven. In simple terms, it’s just a tiny space to heat up — combined with a more powerful fan distributing the heat more efficiently. Not much rocket science going on here! Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be much insulation to retain heat, which would make Air Fryers even more efficient. In addition, double-glazed doors could add yet more efficiencies. Nevertheless, this relatively inexpensive kit could aid your energy-saving arsenal this winter. Even so, if you have a double oven with a smaller fan-assisted mini oven, the savings of an Air Fryer may not stack up unless you use them regularly. 

Does it look good in the kitchen? 

The unit we tested was the Tower 11-litre T17076 rated input 2kW. The first impressions were good, and it looks well made. The overall design sat well in our kitchen. All the controls are touch sensitive. No buttons to trap dirt, and very easy to keep the outside clean. Included in the box was a confusing array of attachments. The manual explains these well, but it did seem odd that the basket is an optional extra. The mains cable seemed a tad short, but it worked for us. 

What’s an Air Fryer like to use? 

The test unit came with an excellent recipe book with a host of things you can do with an Air Fryer. Who’d of thought you could fry–up a cake! Or even a pineapple upside-down pudding. These machines certainly offer a flexible, efficient way of cooking. Yet, the name Air Fryer is a bit confusing. Basically, it’s a mini oven with a fan which uses less oil to produce crispy chips than a deep fat fryer. Turn to YouTube, and you’ll find a host of instructional videos to give you an idea of how an Air fryer works and recipe ideas. We were a little unsure which cooking accessories it was best to use — non-stick appears the preferred choice. However, after a needlessly nervous start — it proved very simple to operate, and soon we had cooked up meatballs, fried potatoes, and even experimented with flapjack. It proved perfect for quickly roasting tomatoes for a pasta sauce and was fab at baking a crispy potato. A minor niggle was that the on/off/pause touch button didn’t always respond quickly. Also, On the plus side, the air fryer is effortless to clean, with the trays small enough to fit in the dishwasher.

Air Fryers — how do the energy costs stack up compared to a small conventional oven or Microwave?

So, we compared baking one 240g potato in three different ovens, an Air Fryer, Small Mini (non-fan) oven and a Microwave, to evaluate the energy usage, time and taste/texture. The cooking costs are calculated using the Energy Price Guarantee (October 2022) of 34p per kWh.

Standard top (mini) oven

Firstly a Standard top (mini) oven with no fan. The cooking time was 70 minutes, and the result was excellent — crispy skin and an evenly cooked fluffy potato     

  • Energy usage 1.10 kWh   
  • 70 minutes of cooking time @ 200 C 
  • Cost to cook £0.374 (37p)

Air Fryer

The Air Fryer took slightly less time than the standard oven, only saving 10 minutes. Nevertheless, again the result was tasty, lovely and crisp.  

  • Energy usage 0.80 kWh   
  • 60 minutes of cooking time @ 200 C 
  • Cost to cook £0.272 (27p) 

We did note that the Air fryer rating was 2kW. Yet whilst testing, it appeared to peaked at 2.2kW. The thermostat within the unit worked well, running at around 2145W to 2200W for 30 seconds and then switching to fan mode for 60 seconds at 36W.   


Our Microwave certainly wins on the energy-saving front! The machine used was 900W rated — and used about 1500W during the test. It only took 8 minutes to cook. Remarkably, only using 0.20 kWh!  

  • Energy usage 0.20 kWh
  • 8 minutes of cooking time @ 900W 
  • Cost to cook £0.068 (7p) 

As expected, the results were slightly disappointing, with no crisp skin. However, the potato was wonderfully fluffy on the inside. Our solution was to pop it in the Air Fryer for a ten-minute blast at 200 C, resulting in a perfectly baked spud for an extra few pennies (5p).   

Would I buy an Air fryer?

Like many kitchen gadgets, you ask, do I need more clutter? Will it sit in the cupboard with the juicer, bread machine and pasta maker? Do I need one? Well, it depends; if you’re looking for a quick and efficient way of cooking meals and have a smaller household, an Air Fryer could be a handy addition, or you’re a student wanting to cook some less fatty chips on a small budget. These machines are a real winner. While, of course, the advantages may be less compelling if you’ve already got a double oven with a small fan oven. The real energy-saving winner is a microwave, perhaps with an Air Fryer for the crisper morsels. 

Nevertheless, it does seem that cooker manufacturers have missed a trick here. Indeed there appears to be a market for small built-in fryers in conventional double-ovens or even triple cooker setups. Small ovens for quick use certainly make a lot of sense.

Are there Energy labels for Air fryers?

The other thing to remember is that these machines do not require energy labels. So comparing like-for-like models from a pure energy efficiency standpoint is somewhat challenging. Though overall, it’s excellent to see innovation in this sector. It is even better if it helps consumers save energy and drives more innovation in cooking more energy efficiently. 

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Energy Efficient Living — News, Hints & Tips