How To Turn Your Property Into A Modern Eco Home

The Eco Experts

Creating an eco home can cut your energy bills by £2,175 per year

Your property’s value can rise by up to 25%

You can massively reduce your carbon footprint 

UK homes are switching from fossil fuels to solar panels, from gas boilers to heat pumps, and from old, draughty buildings to insulated homes.

This change is overdue. Energy bills are far too expensive, and domestic emissions now make up 16% of the country’s carbon footprint.

By adding modern, low-carbon technology to a property, you can make it more cost-effective, eco-friendly, and valuable. Here’s what that would look like.

What is an ‘eco home’?

An eco home is a property that uses renewable technology to ensure its carbon footprint is minimal.

Ideally, this would include both its construction and daily energy usage, so you’d use low-carbon supply chain and building methods to create a well-insulated home powered by renewable energy.

The average three-bedroom household emits 2.7 tonnes of CO2 per year, with residential emissions making up 16% of the UK’s total carbon footprint.

Residential emissions are the only major category not to have fallen since 2014, mostly because of high upfront costs and a general lack of effort and financial assistance from the government.

An eco home releases practically zero emissions – and thanks to falling costs, this concept is now possible for more people.

How much does it cost to create an eco home?

It costs £33,615 for the average household to create the complete eco home – but only if you go all the way.

You can also make these improvements gradually, instead of buying all of these green products at the same time.

These figures are based on a semi-detached, three-bedroom house – the most popular property type in England and Wales.

infographic of a cut-out house with numbers pointing to different home improvements, and text below explaining the costs and savings associated with them for an average home
* Based on an electricity price of 30.11p per kWh

§ When combined with solar panels

‡ When compared with charging your electric vehicle at a public charge point

By installing these products, the average household could save £2,175 per year – or £39,345 over 20 years.

Using these low-carbon appliances will also reduce your carbon footprint by 103.4 tonnes of CO2 over the next 20 years. That’s the same impact as not driving for 67 years.

The upfront costs in our table also don’t include government grants. For example, the government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme can cut £5,000 off the price of an air source heat pump.

What are the benefits of creating an eco home?

  • Massively reduces your energy bills
  • Increases your home’s value by 14%, on average
  • Shrinks your carbon footprint
  • Raises your property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating
  • Makes you much less dependent on the gas and electricity grids

An eco home can cut your energy bills by 76% on average, if you make all the improvements we’ve listed.

It’ll also have the benefit of improving your EPC rating, which can raise your property’s value by as much as 14%. For the average semi-detached home, that’s a £41,900 increase.

Plus, while energy prices continue to rise and the global focus on mitigating climate change intensifies, houses with high EPC ratings will be increasingly attractive to buyers.

A property that comes with a heat pump or a pre-installed set of solar panels will therefore be more appealing, easier to sell, and more valuable than a home without green technology.

For instance, a house with solar panels costs between 0.9% and 2% more than the same property without any panels, according to a study by Solar Energy UK and Cambridge University.

This alone would add as much as £6,000 to the value of a typical semi-detached house.

How to make your property an eco home: step by step

Here are the easiest ways to make your home greener and more energy-efficient, followed by some more expensive – but extremely effective – methods.

Smart thermostat

A smart thermostat typically costs £225 for a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your electricity bills by 14%.

Smart thermostats are connected to your wifi network, which allows you to decide how and when to heat your home with just a tap on your phone or a few spoken words.

Modern versions like Google’s Nest Learning Thermostat also quickly grasp your heating patterns, so they can supply exactly the right amount of heat when you need it, and turn off when you don’t.

This reduces unnecessary energy usage and lowers your bills, which is perhaps why 1.7 million households in the UK already own one.

Roof insulation

Roof insulation typically costs £930 for a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your heating bills by 32%.

Taking a fabric first approach to your home by focusing on insulation will almost always pay off.

You can’t cut your energy bills without effective insulation, and your loft is a great place to start. 25% of the average home’s heat is lost through its roof – so insulation in this area is vital.

Thankfully, it’s a simple process. An installer just needs to pop some insulating material – usually mineral wool, organic foam, or rigid insulation boards – between the beams on your roof.

Also, roof insulation costs are usually affordable, especially compared to some home improvements.

Cavity wall insulation

Cavity wall insulation typically costs £2,700 for a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your heating bills by 33%.

If your home was built after the 1930s, it probably has cavity walls – that is, two walls with a gap in between.

All an installer has to do is insert a heat-retaining material into the space between the walls and seal it back up again.

Cavity wall insulation will help you to cut your heating bills by one-third, on average, which makes sense since 35% of the heat lost from the typical home exits through the walls.

Insulating your home properly also means you’ll be able to keep yourself warm in winter and cool in summer – though getting this insulation costs £2,700 on average, which is steeper than roof insulation.

Double glazing

Double glazing typically costs £6,400 if you’re replacing all the windows in a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your heating bills by 22%.

Double glazing costs £640 per window on average, but is a must when it comes to creating an eco home.

It can save you money on energy bills, keep you warm during the winter, and reduce your carbon footprint.

And if you’re considering installing a heat pump, you’ll need double glazing to lock in the warmth it produces, as heat pumps generate heat at a lower temperature than boilers.

The style and size of the window will alter the price tag, as will the frame material. For example, uPVC windows are usually cheaper, while aluminium or steel windows are more expensive.

Solar panels

Solar panels typically cost £7,860 for a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your heating bills by 64%.

Solar panel cost £786 each and will repay your investment within 14.1 years, on average.

They’re essential for an eco home – not only do they typically cut your electricity bills by 64%, but they also power other green products like heat pumps and electric vehicle chargers.

Solar panel installations usually take one or two days, and then you can start saving money straight away.

You can also track how much electricity they produce on a special meter or through an app.

Solar battery

A solar battery typically costs £4,500 for a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your heating bills by 14%.

Solar batteries capture excess electricity that your solar panels generate, which you can either use or sell to the grid.

Typically, a solar battery will cost around £4,500 – though this will largely depend on the size of your solar panel system.

It’s not essential to install a storage battery in an eco-home, but it’ll mean you can use around 80% of your solar electricity, instead of 50%.

The extra savings you’ll make aren’t enough to break even on a solar battery over its typical 15-year lifespan, but it’ll reduce your carbon footprint and make you less dependent on the grid.

For more information about solar panels, check out: The 9 Best Solar Panels in the UK.

Heat pump

An air source heat pump typically costs £10,000 for a three-bedroom household, and can reduce your heating bills by 8% over its lifespan.

Heat pumps are the inevitable successor to gas boilers in the UK, and the government is backing them with the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Usually, air source heat pumps and water source heat pumps cost £10,000, but with this grant, you’ll only pay £5,000 or £4,000, respectively.

Heat pumps are at least three times more efficient than fossil fuel boilers because they draw warmth from the air, a body of water, or the ground. They only need to use a small amount of electricity on top of one of these natural sources of heat.

You may also want to consider installing underfloor heating, better insulation, or larger radiators, because heat pumps produce heat at a lower level than boilers.

Air source heat pump

Electric vehicle charger

An electric vehicle charger typically costs £1,000, and can reduce your fuel bills by 43% compared to charging in public.

An electric vehicle charger costs between £800 and £1,200 on average, including installation.

If you have an electric vehicle, it’s a no-brainer to get one of the best home chargers, as you’ll typically save 43% compared to using public charging stations.

This means you’ll typically break even on your charger in around two years, making it an excellent investment.

And you may be able to save even more money if you have solar panels, as you can use the electricity they produce to charge your car during the day.

Are there any grants for eco homes?

Future eco home trends

Renewable technology is always developing and improving, so naturally, there are better products in the works. Here are the technologies the next generation of eco home might use.

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.

Next steps

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 also becoming increasingly affordable to reduce your emissions.

For those people who can currently 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 for years to come.


An eco house uses renewable technology like solar panels and a heat pump to lower its carbon footprint from electricity and heating as much as possible.

Ideally, an eco house is also built sustainably, using a low-carbon supply chain and eco-friendly building methods to create a well-insulated home powered by green energy.

You usually don’t need any extra planning permission to build or retrofit an eco house.

Using sustainable building materials and methods doesn’t require any specific planning permission, and you also generally don’t need planning permission to get green technology like solar panels, insulation, or heat pumps.

Eco homes cost more than regular houses, but not by a significant amount – and the energy bills savings usually make up for this extra expense.

It’s also easier to buy an eco home than retrofit a property to turn it into one, both because retrofitting is always more complicated, and because the costs are on the homeowner instead of a building company.

But if you can afford the upfront cost, the long-term benefits more than make up for it.

Written by:
Beth has been writing about green tech, the environment, and climate change for over three years now – with her work being featured in publications such as The BBC, Forbes, The Express, Greenpeace, and in multiple academic journals. Whether you're after a new set of solar panels, energy-saving tips, or advice on how to reduce your carbon footprint, she's got you covered.
Back to Top