The Modern Eco-Home: How Much Money Would It Save You?

The Eco Experts
Eco Home

UK homes are in the middle of a huge transformation. Rather than relying on fossil fuels, we’re switching to renewables. Instead of settling for old draughty buildings, we’re wrapping them in insulation. And gradually, we’re replacing high-emission boilers with eco-friendly alternatives.

Since 85% of homes are still heated by carbon-heavy natural gas, this change can’t come soon enough.

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK won't meet its climate change targets unless it eliminates most greenhouse gas emissions from homes, which currently account for around 14% of UK emissions. 

As a solution to the UK’s home emissions problem, some people are creating their own eco-homes. This exciting possibility involves adding modern, low-carbon technology to a property to make it more eco-friendly and cost efficient.

But what exactly would a modern eco-home look like? We’re here to paint you that picture.

Like the graphics on this page? Feel free to use them – they can be found on this Google Drive. We just ask that you credit us with a link back to this page. Thanks!
Eco-Home Image

How much can you save with an eco-home?

We won’t beat around the bush – giving your home a complete revamp won’t be cheap. But when it comes to installing low-carbon appliances around the house, you’ll eventually make your money back by saving on energy bills – and you’ll be reducing your carbon emissions.

So, just how much will it cost you to transform your property into an eco-home – and how much can you save? We’ve outlined everything you need to know in the table below.

These figures are based on a semi-detached, three-bedroom house – the most popular property type in the UK (making up 31.4% of the total housing stock).

Eco Home table

So by installing these appliances, homeowners in the UK could save £1,863 each year – or £37,260 over 20 years.

What’s more, using these low-carbon appliances could reduce your carbon footprint by 123.2 tonnes of CO2 over the next 20 years. To compare, we worked out that the average person emits 1.55 tonnes of CO2 each year from driving – which means that transforming your property into an eco-home is the equivalent of staying off the roads for 79.4 years. 

It’s also important to note that the upfront costs shown in the table don’t include government grants or subsidies, so many of them could end up being a lot cheaper. For example, although a heat pump will cost roughly £10,000, the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme will knock off about £5000–£6,000 from that total.

How much can low-carbon technology increase your property’s value?

These eco-friendly appliances can increase a property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating – and from April 2025, the UK government will require all domestic tenancies to reach an energy efficiency rating of ‘C’.

Plus, while energy bills continue to rise, and the global focus on mitigating climate change intensifies, a high EPC rating will likely have a significant impact on house prices in the near future.

So if you’re buying a property that comes with a heat pump or a pre-installed set of solar panels, they’re likely to make that home more appealing and will add value to the property.

In 2019, a study by real estate company Zillow showed that solar panels raise a home’s value by 4.1% on average – which would increase the typical UK home’s value by £9,500.

It’s a similar case for wall insulation. A 2019 government report suggests that wall insulation can increase property value by more than 25%.

Eco home highlight box

Which products will save you money in an eco-home?

Solar panels

Estimated cost: £4,800*
Average savings: £530**
CO2 emissions saved per year: 0.65 tonnes**

Solar panels are essential for an eco-home – not only do they work well on their own, but they can also help power other low-carbon appliances, such as heat pumps.

The average domestic solar PV system size is 3.5 kWp and costs around £4,800, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Of course, this price will fluctuate, depending on the system’s type and size, as well as how big your property is.

To give you a better idea of the price, we’ve outlined how different factors alter solar panel costs.

*1 kWp–4 kWp system size
**for a three-bedroom semi-detached property

Solar PV system sizeNumber of solar panelsAverage costRoof spaceAnnual electricity outputProperty sizeAnnual CO2 savings
1kWp3£1,4406m²895kWh1 bedroom house0.16 tonnes
2kWp6£2,88012m²1,790kWh1-2 bedroom house0.32 tonnes
3kWp9£4,32018m²2,685kWh2-3 bedroom house0.49 tonnes
4kWp12£5,76024m²3,580kWh4 bedroom house0.65 tonnes

Savings

Although you’ll have to set aside a few thousand pounds to invest in solar panels, you’ll be able to make this money back through savings on energy bills.

In fact, by installing solar panels, the average three-bedroom, semi-detached property could save £530 per year on energy bills – that’s roughly £10,600 over 20 years.

Storage battery

Estimated cost: £4,500
Average savings: £296 per year*
CO2 emissions saved per year: 0.94 tonnes*

It’s not essential to install a storage battery in an eco-home, but it’ll certainly save you a lot of money. Storage batteries capture excess electricity that your solar panels generate, which you can either use or sell later on.

Typically, a storage battery will cost around £4,500 – though the exact amount depends on its size, the brand, and the materials it’s made from. Prices can therefore vary a lot – one Which? survey found that 80% of battery owners paid anywhere between £2,500 and £6,000 for their units.

* when combined with solar panels

Savings

On average, a storage battery can save you about £200 per year on your energy bills, when combined with solar panels. However, bear in mind that the amount of money storage batteries can save you will depend on the size of your solar panel system, and how much energy you consume.

Double glazing

Estimated cost: £7,500
Average savings: £145 per year
CO2 emissions saved per year: 0.33 tonnes

Double glazing is a must when it comes to creating an eco-house. It can save you money on energy bills, keep you warm during the winter, and help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Plus, if you’re also considering installing a heat pump, you’ll need double glazed windows to lock in all that much-needed warmth. This is because heat pumps produce lower grade heat than boilers – usually at around 35-40°C compared to a gas boiler’s average 60°C – which means you’ll want to seal in as much of that heat as possible.

The style and size of the window will alter the price tag, as will the material of the frame. For example, uPVC windows tend to be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, with a set of A-rated windows for a semi-detached house costing around ££7,500. A-rated wooden windows, on the other hand, can cost up to about £15,000.

Savings

According to the Energy Saving Trust, by swapping single-glazed windows for A-rated double glazed windows, you could save £145 per year. Want to go a step further? If you installed A++ rated double glazed windows on the same property, you could save up to £175 per year.

Cavity wall insulation

Estimated cost: £1,200
Average savings: £285 per year
CO2 emissions saved per year: 0.66 tonnes

If you’d like to transform your property into an eco-home, one of the first things you should do is make sure your walls are well insulated – this will lock in heat and save you thousands on energy bills over the years.

Cavity walls (made up of two walls with a gap in between) have been used in UK homes since the 1920s, so a lot of properties have them. To insulate these walls, an installer simply needs to place material into the cavity, and seal it up again – it’s that easy.

Getting cavity wall insulation in a semi-detached home will cost you roughly £1,200 upfront, while you could spend as little as £410 to insulate a flat. 

Savings

No matter what type of property you live in, you should be able to make back this installation cost in just over four years. On average, installing cavity wall insulation in a semi-detached home could save you as much as £285 on your energy bills

Roof insulation

Estimated cost: £530
Average savings: £255 per year
CO2 emissions saved per year: 0.58 tonnes

Roughly a quarter of a home’s heat is lost through its roof – so insulating this area of your property is vital if you want to save on bills.

Luckily, this is a pretty simple procedure. An installer just needs to pop some insulating material – usually made of mineral wool, organic foam, or rigid insulation boards – in between the beams on your roof.

Plus, roof insulation is much cheaper than many other home improvements – it typically costs around £530 for the average three-bedroom house.

Savings

Depending on the type of property you live in – whether it’s a detached home, a bungalow, or a flat – you can expect to save between £150–£380 per year. This means you should break even within one or two years! Not to mention you could cut your carbon footprint by up to 11.6 tonnes of CO2 over 20 years.

Electric vehicle home charger

Estimated cost: £950
Average savings: £252 per year
CO2 emissions saved per year: N/A

One of the key tools that can help drivers reduce their emissions is an electric vehicle – but lack of access to charging points sometimes puts people off buying one. Luckily, home charging stations are now pretty common.

It’ll usually cost you between £800 and £1,200 to buy and install an electric car charging point on your property – the exact price will depend on the size of the battery and charger.

Charger typeAverage priceTime to full battery
3.6 kW£80017 hours
7 kW£9509 hours
22 kW£1,2003 hours

These figures are based on averages of the most popular EV charging models

Savings

Overall, electric vehicles are 71% cheaper to run than a petrol car, meaning you’ll typically save £880 per year by going electric. 

Of course, you can use public charging points instead of getting a home charger – but remember that they’re usually 50% more expensive to use. This steep difference in price means that people with home chargers can save an average of £252 more per year than those who use public charging points.

Heat pump

Estimated cost: £10,000
Average savings: £5 per year
CO2 emissions saved per year: 2.5 tonnes

Heat pumps are being touted as the successor to gas boilers in the UK, and the government is already backing them with a new grant. This mainly comes down to their eco-friendly credentials. Rather than relying on fossil fuels to warm your home, you can invest in a heat pump and save 50 tonnes of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.

An air source heat pump has a pretty hefty upfront price of around £10,000 – and with electricity prices rising substantially, the running costs aren’t as cheap as they used to be. 

When it comes to installing a heat pump in your home, you might also have to install underfloor heating, better insulation, or new radiators that are 2.5 times bigger than regular ones. This is because heat pumps produce lower grade heat than boilers – usually at around 35-40°C compared to a gas boiler’s average of 60°C.

And if we’ve learnt anything from solar panels, it’s how much the price of green appliances can decrease with government investment – the upfront cost of solar panels has decreased by 80% since 2010. Hopefully heat pumps will follow suit. 

Savings

The energy crisis has had a huge impact on heat pumps – and not a positive one. Since heat pumps rely on electricity, which is now at the steep price of 28p per kWh, homeowners will only save an average of £5 a year on energy bills when compared to the cost of running a gas boiler

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that you can pair your heat pump with a solar panel system and battery storage unit, which could further reduce your bills. 

And although energy prices are steep right now, they’re predicted to fall again in roughly two years. When this time comes, heat pumps will once again be more profitable for homeowners. 

Air source heat pump

Important things to consider

The gas boiler ban

The UK government has announced that gas boilers will be banned from new builds by 2025. And from 2035, new boilers running on fossil fuels will no longer be for sale in the UK.

The strategy has been put in place to encourage Brits to swap their old gas boilers with low-carbon heating systems, since 85% of homes are still heated by carbon-heavy natural gas.

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK won't meet its climate change targets unless it eliminates most greenhouse gas emissions from homes, which currently account for around 14% of UK emissions. 

This new strategy also ties in with the government's new Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which is offering 90,000 UK households up to £5,000 to help install low-carbon heating technologies, including heat pumps.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme

From April 2022, homeowners in England and Wales will be able to get £5,000 off a new air source heat pump, and up to £6,000 off a ground source heat pump, through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The scheme will operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Customers will have to register their interest with installers, who will then apply for the grant on their behalf. Once the resulting voucher has been confirmed, the installer will then discount the amount from the overall price.

Want to learn more? Check out our helpful guide on the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

The energy price cap increase

Energy costs are exploding across the world – and the UK is dealing with some of the toughest prices out there. On 3 February 2022, energy regulator Ofgem announced that the energy price cap is set to rise to £1,971 in April.

This is a 54% increase over the average of £1,277 spent on bills in winter 2021/2022.

Although the government has announced some support measures – including a £150 discount on council tax for 80% of UK homes and a £200 loan to go towards energy bills for all domestic electricity customers – up to two million more households in the UK could still fall into fuel poverty as a result of the price cap increase.

The Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a UK government initiative, which replaced the Feed-in Tariff once concluded on 31st March 2019.

Since it started on 1st January 2020, the SEG has required all large energy companies to pay households for any solar-generated electricity they send back to the National Grid. Rates vary between suppliers, but Octopus Energy currently offers the highest rate of 7.5p per kWh.

Want to find out more? Take a look at our comprehensive guide on the Smart Export Guarantee.

The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme

The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) is a government initiative that encourages more of the public to buy electric vehicles. The scheme subsidises 75% of the upfront cost of buying and installing a home recharging stationup to £350 (including VAT).

To qualify for this grant, you must be:

  • Either a homeowner living in a flat, or someone living in rental accommodation
  • Planning to use the charger on one of the 238 vehicle types which currently qualify for the EVHS – make sure to check the eligible vehicles list
  • The vehicle’s primary owner
  • Able to prove you already have an eligible vehicle, or have purchased one that will be delivered within four months of the charger’s installation date

To see the full list of requirements, check out the government’s website.

The minimum EPC rating increase

Every UK home has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating, which ranges from ‘A’ to ‘G’ (‘A’ being the best and ‘G’ the worst). As it stands, all properties being let or sold in England and Wales need to have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ or above – but this is set to change soon.

The UK government recently proposed that all rental properties will need an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above by 2025. Any landlords failing to meet this requirement can be fined up to £5,000 per property and per breach.

On top of this, the government announced that all homes across the UK – whether rentals or not – will need to reach a ‘C’ rating by 2035.

VAT cuts on energy saving materials

The government recently announced that homeowners will pay 0% VAT on energy saving materials for the next five years.

This applies to the installation of the following energy saving materials:

  • Solar panels
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Insulation
  • Wood-fuelled boilers
  • Controls for central heating and hot water systems
  • Draught stripping
  • Micro combined heat and power unit

This should make the upfront cost of green appliances slightly cheaper, since energy saving materials are currently subject to a VAT rate of 20%. However, installations are subject to a reduced 5% VAT rate for people on certain benefits, or if the cost of the products/materials is not over 60% of the cost of installation.

Three future eco-house trends

Infrared heating panels

Infrared heating is still pretty under the radar. The system works by releasing radiation through large panels, which are propped up on the walls or ceilings of a home. Unlike conventional boilers, this radiation then heats objects directly, rather than just warming the room – but don’t worry, these panels use ‘far infrared’, which is perfectly safe.

If you’re considering getting infrared panels for your eco-home, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that the starting price is only around £120 – although this figure will fluctuate depending on the type of panel you go for, as well as its size, design, and wattage.

Generally, a 600 W (watt) panel should be enough to heat a small room and will cost approximately £230. If you were to apply this to a three-bedroom house, that means you’ll be paying around £2,000£2,500 for an infrared heating system.

Hydrogen boilers

A hydrogen boiler works similarly to conventional boilers, except it burns hydrogen instead of natural gas. This creates hot flue gases that can be used to heat water, which can then either be stored for later use or pumped to your radiators.

But before you get too excited, you should know that hydrogen boilers are still in the prototype stage. 

Although there aren’t any official hydrogen boilers on the market, manufacturers are confident they won’t cost any more than natural gas boilers when they do appear.

Microwave boilers

Microwave boilers are very similar to the conventional boilers that most UK homeowners will be used to, but instead of using combustion to generate heat, they use microwaves – a type of electromagnetic radiation.

Although this innovation shows promise for the future of home heating, unfortunately the world’s only microwave boiler is still in the prototype stage.

To give people a rough idea of how much it’ll cost them, Heat Wayv – the company behind the world’s only microwave boiler – stated that a unit for a three- or four-bedroom home would cost roughly £3,500.

Summary

Although eco-homes aren’t very common at the moment, we’re sure that they’ll start to appear more frequently across the UK in the next decade.

And with government grants supporting households, it’s gradually becoming more affordable to reduce household emissions. Since we’re running out of time to fight climate change, this support is more important than ever. And let’s be honest – not everyone can afford to fork out £20,000–£30,000 to reduce their home emissions.

But for those people who can afford it – now is the time to invest. Bear in mind that the ‘eco-home’ is an idealised property which theoretically has everything. Although most homeowners won’t be able to afford to go all out, it’s definitely worth getting one or even a few of the low-carbon technologies we’ve discussed – you’ll slash your bills, help the planet, and keep your home warm.

Not only will you be doing your part to reduce emissions, but you’ll also have a chance of avoiding sky-high energy prices in the coming years.

Beth Howell Writer

Beth has a real passion for green living. She’s been absorbed in eco research for over three years, and has become quite the expert. Whether you’re after a new set of solar panels, a home energy improvement, or you want to catch the latest eco news, she’s got your back.

Back to Top