7 ways to make your home more energy efficient

Paper cut of eco symbol on green grass.

You may love watching home improvement shows and drooling over interior’s magazines. But sometimes the best way you can spend money for your home is on the stuff you can't actually see.

We know, picking out paint colours might seem like a much more fun way of giving your home a makeover. But the reality is, until you get the bones of your house right, no amount of paint will make it really feel comfortable and inviting.

Maybe instead of painting your living room the perfect shade of Chappell Green, your whole house could go green? No, we're not talking about the wall colours. In a bid to improve your home, how about focusing on increasing its energy efficiency?

Making your home more energy efficient? Get your FREE BER voucher

Before you start improving your home’s energy efficiency it’s a good idea to get a BER audit. A qualified BER advisor will carry out the assessment and provide you with an Advisory Report .This will help you identify areas for improvement so you can spend your budget on the jobs that will give you the best return

At AIB, we offer a free BER Voucher for new AIB Home Improvement Personal Loans. To get your free voucher, you need to:

· Be approved for and drawdown a new AIB Home Improvement Personal Loanon our standard lending rates (up to €10,000 at 12.99% APR and over €10,000 at 9.99% APR) between 1st July 2015 and 31st December 2015. (Standard lending rates are available up to €50,000).

· Give us your email address.

We’ll email your voucher to you and you can redeem it with our AIB partners who’ll organise for a SEAI-certified BER assessor to call round and carry out the assessment.

You can redeem your voucher with AIB partners who will organise for a Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) certified BER assessor to call round, assess your house before you start, or after you complete your renovations.

Read on for seven ways of improving your home's energy efficiency before you start picking out the wallpaper and paint.

Replacing old windows

Those old sash windows might be beautiful, but they're probably letting heat escape as quickly as they're letting light in. In fact, windows lose more heat per square foot* in winter than any than any other surface.

Consider replacing draughty old windows with airtight PVC options or by double or triple glazing the existing windows. This can add up, however, ranging from €800-€2,000 per window depending on the window size and desired glazing.

For added draught protection, opt for Alu-Clad windows which are steel-framed on the exterior, and a more attractive timber on the interior. Or speak to your window supplier about the glass panels that require less cleaning.

Expect to pay: Replacing windows can cost about €1,000 per window.

Replacing an old boiler

Boilers lose operational efficiency over the years due to wear and tear. If your boiler is over 15 years old, it is likely to be working at about 70% efficiency today. This is losing you heat, but also costing you money.

By having your boiler replaced you could make a fuel saving of up to 25%, cutting your bills by a quarter. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to replace your boiler, at least have it serviced regularly to ensure that it is functioning safely.

While you’re at it install carbon monoxide detecting alarms. These are just as necessary as a smoke detector. These are well worth the small investment of about €25 from hardware stores.

Expect to pay: Modern, heat-saving boilers can cost anything between €1,500 - €3,000

Insulate the attic

About 10% of your home's heat will escape through the attic if it is not insulated properly. This is probably more noticeable during the winter time when not only is your home cold and draughty, but the snow on your roof melts more quickly than on your energy efficient neighbours' roofs. (That's because your home's heat is up there melting it!)

There are several ways to insulate your attic, but the simple laying of a fibreglass quilt is among the easiest and cheapest solutions. Bear in mind though this can be a bit messy if you plan to do it yourself. You should also be careful when laying insulation above down-lighters. You will need a special fitting to cover the fitting that protrudes form your ceiling into your attic.

Expect to pay: Insulating the attic of an average-sized home will cost you a minimum of €2,000.

Is it time to say goodbye to the immersion?

By switching to gas, you can reduce your home's energy consumption by up to 30%, making you a significant financial saving. You can also enjoy the luxury that is instant hot water!

Another way to save money on hot water is to install a lagging jacket around the water boiler. These will pay for themselves within two or three months.

Expect to pay: Modern lagging jackets cost about €35.

External insulation for your house

We've all heard of internal dry-lining and how it works wonders for your home. And if your home is currently being built, it is recommended that you insulate the walls as much as possible. But what happens if your home is recently decorated, boasts original architraves and mouldings or the rooms are just too bitty to lose an additional few inches on each side?

Homeowners are then reluctant to meddle with the wall's interiors. Instead, consider exterior insulation panels, insulation-stuffed blocks or cladding. By insulating the walls of your home, you'll be saving a whopping 35% of heat (and money!) and reducing the chances of dampness forming.

Expect to pay: Prices range from about €12,000 - €20, 000 for an average 3-bed semi. A €4,000 grant may be available from the SEAI.

Insulating doors

This can be as easy and inexpensive as placing a draught-excluder in front of each door. Those novelty sausage dog excluders can actually prove to be very effective at barking away any draughts.

For your hall door, attach a cover for the inside of your letter box. It might only seem like a slight gap in the door, but it's large enough to lose heat through.

Expect to pay: From draft excluders can cost as little as €10 and letter box covers cost about €8.

Smart home technology

There's an app for everything nowadays. But unlike Candy Crush Saga, which may cost you hours of valuable time, smart home tech can save you hours of unnecessary energy and its costs.

For example, tech like climote monitors your heating usage and lets you change the settings from just about anywhere. Install a wall-mounted hub and track your heating usage online, via text, or from the smartphone app.

Get in touch about a home improvement loan

If you’re planning a renovation to make your home more energy efficient, use AIB's loan calculator to see how much you could borrow. Whether it's a home improvement loan, a personal loan or indeed a Mortgage, we're here to help you on your way to a more energy efficient and warmer home.

Call us on 01 66003 11 or drop into your local AIB branch.

Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. is an authorised agent and servicer of AIB Mortgage Bank in relation to origination and servicing of mortgage loans and mortgages. AIB Mortgage Bank and Allied Irish Banks, p.l.c. are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.