An energy-efficient home: the best way to save money

Investing in energy-efficient improvements makes your home more comfortable and helps you save money and energy. Not only that, an energy-efficient home is worth more on the market, so you can potentially get a higher price if you ever decide to sell. In other words, it’s certainly a great idea to make sustainable renovations to your home. But what’s the best way to do that, and what investments should you make first?

Energy-efficient renovation work should always start with your EPC

There are various different ways to improve your home’s energy-efficiency. Some people may start by installing an eco-friendly heating solution, while others focus mainly on making sure their home is properly insulated and airtight. If you want to know which renovation work should be tackled first, check your home's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You’ll immediately see the energy rating and label, as well as recommendations on which renovation work should take first priority. This lets you plan your energy-saving improvements more efficiently.

This certificate also includes an overview of the different ways your home is losing energy (e.g., through the walls, windows, floors, doors, windows or your heating system), as well the energy expert's advice on how to save energy. In addition, you’ll also find the insulation value of the materials in your home as recorded by the expert.

If you want to make your home energy-efficient, you should take the following steps:

Step 1: Insulate your roof

Your home loses most its energy and heat through the roof! Proper roof insulation is a must for any home. Whether the home is a new build or an existing property, this is the most important step towards lowering energy bills. You can lose as much as 25% to 30% of your heating bill through your roof, which means you can reduce your energy bills by that much every month if you make sure the roof’s properly insulated. In addition to financial savings, there are also a number of other benefits:

  • Roof insulation ensures that your roof is always weathertight.
  • It not only traps the heat inside in winter, it also keeps out the sun’s heat in summer, meaning the temperature inside is more pleasant during the summer months.
  • It provides acoustic insulation, dampening annoying outside noises and making it feel quieter inside.
  • Improving the temperature in the attic space allows you to use it as an extra bedroom or space for hobbies.

More information on the rules covering roof insulation can be found on the Flemish government website.

Did you know you can finance your roof insulation with a low-cost energy loan? > Learn more about the energy loan

Work out your energy loan for insulation

Step 2: Insulate your exterior walls

Your exterior walls are the second biggest reason for heat loss, with around 20% escaping that way. This makes them the next issue to address if you want to make your home energy-efficient. There are three ways to do this: insulating the outer wall, the inner wall, or filling the cavity of the wall with insulation.

Insulating the cavity

The cavity is the open space between your inner and outer walls. Cavity wall insulation is a quick, efficient and cost-effective way to make an existing property more energy-efficient.

Small holes are drilled into the mortar joints of your exterior wall in a specific pattern. Insulating material is then injected into these holes, completely filling the cavity. The drilled holes are then filled back in.

Unfortunately, older homes often do not have a cavity, and not every cavity is suitable for filling. In that case, you have to choose between insulating your walls from the inside or outside.

External wall insulation

Older houses often have solid walls, which makes insulating them from the outside the best option, even if it is usually also the most expensive approach.

Insulating an external wall is typically done by glueing plastic insulation boards to your existing external wall with a special adhesive and finished by applying a frame to the insulating material which allows brick slips, stucco, wood or cladding panels to be attached.

This isn’t necessary if you opt for a rendered finish as a layer of fibreglass reinforcement serves as sufficient foundation for the render.

Internal wall insulation

Insulating the internal walls is only attempted for houses where it isn’t technically possible to insulate the cavity or external walls. Insulating the internal walls is a very delicate process, it’s almost impossible to insulate perfectly, and it often creates a greater risk of condensation.

Did you know you can finance your wall insulation with a low-cost energy loan?
> Learn more about the energy loan

Step 3: Install double-glazing or high-efficiency glass

Your third priority is addressing your windows, which can account for 15% of the heat lost from your home. This makes it a great idea to have double-glazing or high-efficiency glass fitted. The insulating ability of double glazing can be double or triple that of single glazing, while high-efficiency glass can be four to five times as effective. In addition, your windows will suffer less from condensation and cold glass panels will be a thing of the past.

Did you know you can finance your high-efficiency windows with a low-cost energy loan? > Learn more about the energy loan

Work out your energy loan for high-efficiency glass

Step 4: Produce your own energy

If you’ve already done what you need to better insulate your home, it’s a good idea to start generating your own energy with solar panels or a heat pump. This step really pays off thanks to the savings you’ll make in the long run.

Solar panels allow you to convert sunlight into free energy, shrinking your energy bill. This investment often pays for itself within five to seven years, while the latest generation of solar panels can easily last 25 to 30 years. If your solar panels generate too much energy, this is fed back into the grid and you’ll get a small amount of compensation for each kWh you supply, meaning you benefit even more from your investment.

You shouldn’t ignore the structure and condition of your roof. If you opt for solar panels, you need to make sure your roof meets the criteria for installation. You can also take this opportunity to insulate your roof if needed (see Step 1), rather than paying to alter your roof twice over. Installing solar panels on an uninsulated house is like leaving your windows and doors open.

Another option is a heat pump. This collects heat from sources such as the air outside, the ground or groundwater, bringing it to a usable temperature before releasing it inside your home. This doesn’t require the outside air or ground to be warmer than the temperature indoors: a heat pump can also draw in heat even if the source is cold. A heat pump therefore draws free energy from the outside world, but requires electricity to run. You can get that from the grid, or produce some of it yourself using solar panels.

Did you know you can finance your solar panels with a low-cost energy loan?
> Learn more about the energy loan

Step 5: Store your energy

If you’ve installed solar panels, you should use as much energy as you can while the sun is shining. That’s easier said than done, however, as the average family has a self-consumption rate of just 30%.

You can dramatically increase your self-consumption with a home battery. This lets you store unused energy generated when the sun is shining so that it can be used once it’s dark. This allows you to increase your self-consumption rate in summer to as much as 70%.

A smart battery takes things a step further, cleverly ensuring that the electricity you’ve generated is stored or sold to your energy supplier when the energy price is highest. Conversely, it also helps you draw energy from the grid when the price is low, which means your battery continues to be useful in winter. You will need to sign a dynamic energy contract with your energy supplier to do this, however.

Did you know you can finance your home battery with a low-cost energy loan? > Learn more about the energy loan

Work out your energy loan for solar panels