Surveyors probe energy efficiency payback

Insulating walls is the most cost effective way to reduce carbon footprints in the home, while installing electricity-generating solar panels might send a message, but is unlikely to give value for money when it comes to cutting energy bills.

That’s according to a price guide published by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) which compares the outlay required to install energy saying measures against how long it will take them to pay for themselves.

The guide also looks at how disruptive the green improvements are likely to be.

Cavity wall insulation comes out tops and particularly shines in terraced properties, where less external walls mean a smaller bill resulting in a payback period of as little as three years, and saving of as much as £145 per year thereafter.

Fitting a new boiler is a less attractive proposition according to the guide, and likely to take up to 18 years to pay for itself – longer than the average life of a boiler.

But photovoltaic solar panels – those which generate electricity as opposed to hot water – are all but dismissed as a symbolic gesture, with high installation costs and small subsequent savings resulting in a payback period of over 200 years.

Joe Martin executive director of the Building Cost Information Service which produced the guide said: “We all have a role to play in helping to reduce our carbon footprint, be it through changes to our behaviour or by choosing greener alternatives.

“The reality is, however, that most people struggle with the cost, time, and effort it takes to make these changes.

“The Greener Homes Price Guide gives consumers a comprehensive heads-up about the costs and effectiveness of green upgrades, whilst protecting them from being duped into changes that won’t save them money or do little to reduce their carbon footprint.

“Consumers need innovation and enhanced technology to help in the fight against climate change, not just a guilt trip about living in the world we have created.”

Sam Bond

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