Preparing your home and yourself for sustainable living involves change. We usually need a good reason to make changes, such as saving money on heating bills and/or to reduce your carbon footprint.

The Energy and Sustainability Centre (ESC) is currently working on recommendations to help Manx residents make sensible choices. These range from costing nothing to serious investments in heating. 

The suggestions that ESC makes here focus on energy savings but these also have the advantage of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and therefore help fight climate change. In addition to saving money, reducing draughts and damp will make your home more comfortable to live in which is, of course, also better for your health.

Assuming an annual energy cost of £2,750 for a typical Manx home, we have broken down the options into steps from minimum cost to significant cost, allowing you to match your potential budget. 

  • No cost (retrofit investment £0), energy saving 0-5% (up to £137 each year):
  • Reducing the thermostat setting of your central heating.
  • Heating only the rooms that you occupy.
  • Switching off appliances and chargers rather than leaving them on stand-by.
  • Using less warm water (e.g. shorter showers).

Low-medium cost measures (retrofit investment <£5000), energy saving 0-10% (up to £275 each year):

  • Lagging (insulating) warm water pipes.
  • Installing LED light bulbs.
  • Fitting radiator controls.
  • Reducing air flow in unused chimneys.
  • Sealing cracks in walls or around holes where cables or pipes come in and around inlets such as extractor fans.
  • Sealing and insulating loft and storage hatches.
  • Using a dehumidifier rather than opening windows to dispel moisture
  • Checking for draughts (e.g. with a joss stick) and sealing them.
  • Testing air tightness with measuring equipment and sealing leak points, for example with draught strips on windows and doors.
  • Testing for cold spots with your hand or, preferably, with thermal imaging cameras and insulating where required.
  • Fitting smart heating controls.

Solar energy (photovoltaic cells, investment £5000-£8000), energy saving around 11% (up to £300 each year depending on availability of MUA’s Sustainable Generation Tariff):

  • Installing a 2 kW to 5kW solar PV array, assuming you have a south-facing roof
  • In addition, investing in energy storage such as a batteries, a water buffer tank or a phase change unit is worthwhile if you have an off-peak electricity tariff (MUA Domestic Comfy Heat).

Heat pump (investment from £5000 for a small-scale ducted system to approximately £14,000 for a full central heating system), energy saving around 20% (£550 each year):

  • Installing an air-source heat pump system after making at least the low-medium cost retrofit investments noted above. If you choose a full central heating system, your radiators may need upgrading or else you may need supplementary heating such as infrared panels. Note that sufficient outdoor space is needed for the heat pump unit.

Additional energy efficiency measures (investment up to £20,000), energy saving around 20% (£550 each year):

  • Fitting extra loft insulation such as an additional 200mm over the existing loft insulation.
  • Insulating floors with cork tiles or under floor rockwool.
  • Fitting a thermally-efficient loft hatch.
  • Installing mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) in your kitchen and bathroom or, preferably, an MVHR system for the whole house.

Additional energy efficiency measures (investment up to £35,000), energy saving up to 35% (£1,000 each year):

  • Installing triple glazing.
  • Fitting high performance front and back doors.
  • Fixing wall cladding (external or internal) or insulating cavity walls.
  • Making additional air tightness efforts such as sealing gaps around windows.

Finally, it is worth noting that there are many other ways of improving your sustainability whilst saving money.  These include using your car less, purchasing less imported goods, flying less, growing your own vegetables or fruit trees and, in the autumn, picking wild fruit rather than buying it.

More information can be found at  

Trevor Clark, James Fennell, Best Energy Solutions, MUA and Cambridge City Council are thanked for providing valuable information.