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Your home

Improve insulation

This is a vital way to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. It reduces energy demand so reduces energy bills to save you money. It also reduces carbon emissions, as heating our homes usually accounts for a large chunk of our personal carbon emissions. It can also bring health and other benefits through having a warmer home and is an important precursor to introducing some lower carbon heating sources such as heat pumps, see below. If you rent your property, encourage your landlord to improve the building and remind them of their responsibilities.

Simple insulation measures include draft-proofing, loft insulation, pipe & tank insulation and cavity wall insulation. Replacing windows and doors are more costly and involved projects. Most complex is insulation for solid walls (can be internal or external) or floor insulation.

Check if you already have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for your property. It may recommend certain measures to improve the energy efficiency of the building, although they are estimates and can become quickly out of date.

The most common types of insulation are (in a rough order of cost/complexity:

  • Loft insulation
  • Pipe or hot water tank insulation
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Pitched roof insulation
  • Floor insulation
  • Solid wall insulation

You can find out more about insulation, particularly solid wall insulation, in our explainer video

Replacing windows and doors can also improve the energy efficiency of your property although are also relatively costly measures.

We offer a few schemes to support with improving insulation.

There is particular support to tackle fuel poverty for low income households

Finding a suitable contractor can feel like a real challenge. The National Insulation Association provides a postcode search tool for local installers. Additionally, Trustmark is a government-backed accreditation scheme for tradespeople, but others such as Checkatrade also exist.

If you live in a conservation area or Area of Outstanding National Beauty you may need to check what work you are able to do to your property without the need for planning permission (check the planning portal) and if you’re in a historic or listed building you’ll want to talk to specialists such as Historic England. If you’re not sure, you can find out more on the council’s Historic Environment pages and get in touch with the planning team using the planning enquiry form.

Ensuring adequate ventilation alongside insulation is vital.

Heating - replace (inefficient) fossil fuel systems

Once you’ve improved insulation in your property, it’s time to tackle the heating.

Burning fossil fuel, such as gas or oil, for heating is inherently high in carbon. Replacing an old boiler/heating system with something more efficient will help, however, a bigger step is to switch the heating source of your home to use a heat pump. These act like a fridge working in reverse, using electricity to upgrade incoming heat.

They come in two main varieties:

Check out this video explainer on how heat pumps work

Other heat sources can be used, such as water, but these are much less common in domestic settings.

Heat pumps work differently to traditional boilers so do require a slight personal change in how you heat your home. They work best operating at a lower temperature so it is important your home is well insulated first and you may need to upgrade/enlarge your radiators. They also work well with underfloor heating
Heat pumps use electricity, but generate more units of heat than units of electricity they consume – this is called the coefficient of performance (CoP). This means running costs can vary. At the moment they can be broadly similar to gas boilers, but cheaper to run than other fuels such as oil or direct electric heating.

There is financial support available to make this switch.

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (DRHI) is in place until March 2022. This pays an incentive over 7 years, although doesn’t support the upfront cost. The installation costs of heat pumps will vary depending on internal configurations but are currently more expensive that traditional gas boiler systems, hence the need for incentive.

The DRHI is due to be replaced in April 2022 with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (formerly referred to as the Clean Heat Grant), which will provide grants of £5000 for the installation of ASHPs and £6000 for GSHPs to cover the upfront costs instead of ongoing payments over 7 years. and. Further detail on administration and process of the scheme is expected in advance of the scheme launch.

ASHPs are more straightforward (they look a little bit like air conditioning units) and so cheaper, but are less efficient so have slightly higher running costs than ground-source heat pumps. They also emit noise during operation.

GSHPs require more significant civil works, such as trenching or drilling boreholes, in order to lay the pipework that extracts heat from the ground, so are usually much more expensive, however, they are more efficient so running costs are usually cheaper. This is because ground temperatures are more consistent and don’t get as cold, meaning the heat pump doesn’t work as hard as an ASHP trying to heat cold outdoor air, which therefore requires more electricity.

Find an accredited installer on the Microgeneration Certification Scheme site

For those on lower incomes and living in particularly inefficient homes, other local grant funding may be available. Check out our website for energy efficient loans.

Although not usually required you may need planning permission for a heat pump, particularly an air source heat pump that has an external unit, for example, if you’re in a listed building. Relevant conditions and limits can be found on the Planning Portal or you can get in touch with the planning team using the planning enquiry form.

Energy

Generate renewable energy

Energy has traditionally been generated by large, centralised power stations but there is increasing opportunity to generate local, renewable energy. Installing your own solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is now an option for homeowners, which generate electricity from sunlight (even on cloudy days!).

Check out this video for a brief explainer on how Solar PV works

PV panels can help you save on energy bills, as well as reduce the carbon footprint of your home. Although there is a reasonable upfront cost (depending on size and complexity but usually £3000 - £6000), an average property could expect to save £200 - £400 a year. Additional measures and some behaviour change can increase these savings (see below), with a typical system paying for itself in 10 – 15 years.

If your solar PV array generates more electricity than you can use at home at that time (which is most likely if the house is empty) then this excess electricity is exported back to the electricity grid. You should get paid for this by your electricity supplier under something called the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Rates vary so you can shop around for a supplier that offers the most generous SEG rates.

Excess electricity can also be stored in a battery – see the section on battery storage for more information.

Some support may exist for homeowners to cover the cost of installation, check out our loans and grants page for the latest.

In particular, there is currently grant funding for low income households which covers the cost of the installation of solar PV called the Local Authority Delivery scheme.

Find an accredited local installer on the Microgeneration Certification Scheme site.

Another option could be solar thermal, or solar hot water panels. This uses solar energy to heat your domestic hot water, avoiding the need to use a boiler or heating system to do so. This technology has been well utilised for many years and is well proven.

However, it can be slightly more complicated to install than Solar PV (electricity) as you will need a large hot water cylinder. Check whether your home might be suitable on the Energy Saving Trust website. Because we tend to use more electricity than hot water, solar PV panels will likely make more financial sense for most people. If you do have a hot water cylinder you could also consider a device that diverts any excess electrical generation from solar panels to an immersion heater.

If you live in a sensitive area or property, for example a conservation area or listed building then you will need additional permissions. If you are unsure, you can find out more on the council’s Historic Environment pages and get in touch with the planning team using the planning enquiry form.

Battery storage

Batteries are currently still very expensive although prices are rapidly coming down

Batteries work well and can help save you money when:

  • paired with solar PV
  • paired with a ‘Time of Use’ (ToU) energy tariff, where electricity is cheaper at certain times of day, for example, overnight.
  • or ideally, both!

With Solar PV, a battery can be charged during the day when the solar panels are generating, and then the energy used at times of the day when needed most, such as the evening when returning from work.

When paired with a ToU tariff, the price of electricity fluctuates. The battery can be charged when electricity is cheap and then this can be used when electricity is more expensive, helping save on energy bills.

This principle could also apply to an electric vehicle (EV) which is essentially a battery on wheels! At the moment, discharging an EV to power your home, or to sell to the grid, known as vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is in its infancy, however, is expected to become increasingly popular.

Transport

Go electric

Conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, such as cars, vans and lorries, emit carbon dioxide among other pollutants, while running. Electric vehicles (EVs) have zero tail pipe emissions and so significantly reduce carbon emissions. Additionally, in the UK we have an increasingly ‘greener’ electricity grid meaning they are becoming greener to run.

Switching to an electric vehicle (EV) can make a huge difference to your personal carbon footprint, particularly if you drive a lot and can’t use public or active transport alternatives (as above).

The Energy Saving Trust has an excellent guide on all you need to know about electric vehicles.

Although the upfront cost of electric vehicles is still high, they are coming down. There are also several financial benefits that could make EVs cheaper in the long run:

  • cheaper ‘fuel’ costs. This is particularly the case if you can charge at home where electricity costs are significantly less than petrol/diesel per mile
  • lower servicing and maintenance costs (there are less moving parts in an EV)
  • no vehicle excise duty
  • free parking in many locations
  • no charges in ‘clean air zones’ in a number of cities

There are a few tools that can help you compare running costs of existing petrol/diesel vehicles compared to EVs, such as Zap Map's journey calculator, to show how much you can save, and how quickly the additional upfront cost could be paid back.

The Plug-in Car grant offers a discount of up to £2,500 on the purchase of an EV, although this is often included when EV prices are quoted.

A key aspect of EV ownership is charging. There are various options and speeds but availability of charge points is increasing all the time. Guide to charging electric vehicles - Energy Saving Trust.

To check out public and home chargers wherever you are going, and for up-to-date functionality, check out Zap Map.

We have a number of charge points available in public car parks. We are working to continue this rollout across the borough.

Off street parking is the easiest and cheapest way to do this. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provides funding for up to 75% of the installation of a charger, up to £350.

If you charge at home it will be highly beneficial to switch to a Time of Use tariff that has cheaper rates at off peak times, such as overnight. There are now a number of EV-specific tariffs on the market.

If you don’t have access to off street parking and you’re interested in an EV then please complete a demand survey.

The council is working with Hampshire County Council, responsible for local highways, to rollout on street EV charging options.

The natural environment

Green roofs

A green roof on a shed or outhouse will absorb carbon and increase biodiversity and could be a good way to increase green spaces at your property.

There’s a handy DIY guide to green roofs available if you’d like to find out more.

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Do you have any other ideas that are currently missing from our toolkits? Or do you have any suggestions on how to make our toolkits easier to use? Perhaps you have some ideas on tackling climate change?

If so, get in touch using the details below:

Climate Change team

If you have an enquiry about climate change or sustainability, send a message to the Climate Change Team

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