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The National Skills Academy’s New Booklet on Energy Efficiency - Part one of three

David Thomas
WELCOME TO our summary of Creating an Energy Efficient and Sustainable Home, a guide to sustainable home improvements created by the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies. This is the first part of our summary, in which we see what the booklet has to say about which energy efficiency measures are on offer as part of the Green Deal. We’ve divided this part into three categories: heat, insulation, and water. This gives us a neat way of looking at the main measures. The second part of our summary will look at the booklet’s practical advice for making a property more energy efficient, and the third and final part will focus on the installer, who plays a central part in the Green Deal scheme.
“Improving the energy efficiency of your home really will make a considerable dent in fuel bills, something I’m sure everyone is keen to do as the cost of living, particularly utilities, continues to rise. If you understand these measures before you talk to a trained installer, you can be confident of the questions you need to ask and the advice they’re giving.
“Our Register of Trained Installers is available on our website and is searchable by postcode, providing a trustworthy location to find qualified tradespeople in your area. Before you take the big steps like insulation and renewables, there are plenty of smaller ones you can do yourself. It might seem obvious, but turning off lights and investing in thick curtains will make a big difference while you wait to take advantage of the Green Deal.”

- Cathryn Hickey, executive director at the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies

What is the National Skills Academy for Environmental Technologies?

The National Skills Academy offers installer training and accreditation across its network, including the renewables sector and Green Deal. Successful National Skills Academy trainees will be the ones retrofitting the nation with equipment relating to the Green Deal over the coming decade. Their booklet is an authoritative guide to the fundamentals of sustainability in the home, and has been verified independently by the Energy Saving Trust. Minister Greg Barker has written the foreword. Here’s part of it:
“The Green Deal, together with our other key policies, such as the Feed-in Tariff, Renewable Heat Incentive, and Microgeneration Scheme, will provide home owners and tenants with new opportunities to improve their homes… … We will ensure that customers get the highest levels of service and protection. That is why we have made robust standards of assessment and installation the cornerstone of all of our schemes.”
The front cover of Creating an Energy Efficient and Sustainable Home

What information is in the booklet?

Creating an Energy Efficient and Sustainable Home addresses the following questions:
• Why create an energy efficient home?
• What is the correct approach to doing so?
• How do you reduce your energy consumption and improve efficiency?
• What are the fundamental principles of the various improvement measures?
• What other Government incentives and consumer support schemes are out there?
To start, the guide explains its three steps to a more energy efficient home:
(1) Reduce energy use – e.g.: switch off lights, take showers instead of baths.
(2) Improve energy efficiency – e.g.: install measures such as insulation and draught exclusion.
(3) Finally, install sustainable energy generation methods – e.g.: heat pumps or solar.

The measures you can take to upgrade a property

As well as fully explaining the Government’s Green Deal scheme, Feed in Tariffs and Renewable Heat Incentive, the guide devotes a page to each of the main energy efficiency measures, with diagrams and statistics on energy, cash, and carbon savings. Here are the measures taken from the guide that will be most widely implemented:

Heat and water

Condensing boilers

- Around 90% efficient - far better than the previous generation of boilers. - The added efficiency can save you £300 per year. - Called condensing boilers, or ‘condis’, because condensation is created as a by-product. It drips out through a drainage pipe.

Heating controls

- Gives you control re: temperature, time and zone. - A thermostat can save £70 per year, and can be installed on most existing boilers.


- 21% of heat can leave a property through its windows. - Can save up to £360 per year. - Double or triple glazing can reduce cold spots and draughts, as well as noise. - Also adds additional layers of security.

Air source heat pumps

- Can save £380 per year. - Can operate perfectly well at sub-zero temperatures.

Ground source heat pumps

- Can save £480 per year

Biomass burners

- Can save £100 per year. - Carbon neutral.


- Refers to both solar photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal, both of which work best when installed facing a southerly direction. - Solar thermal can provide 60% of a property’s hot water. - Solar PV earns money both on-grid, exporting to the National Grid, and off-grid, through the Feed-in Tariff. Cross section showing some of the many measures available


*Insulation cannot be installed when the walls or floor are affected by any kind of rot or damp.

Draught proofing

- Almost all properties can do with better draught proofing, and it’s quick and inexpensive. - This can save you around £30 per year. - The most common draught points are the loft hatch, windows and doors, letterbox and floors.

External wall insulation

- 33% of heat leaves an uninsulated property through its walls. - External solid wall insulation can save around £475 per year - Internal solid wall insulation can save around £445 per year (and is usually the cheaper of the two).

Floor insulation

- 8% of heat is lost through the floor. - This can add up to around £60 per year. - Floor insulation can reduce drafts.

Roof insulation

- 26% of heat leaves an uninsulated property through its roof. - This can add up to savings of £75 per year.

& more

The guide covers other measures, such as micro-wind and micro- hydro turbines, rainwater harvesting and reuse.. (Thank you to the National Skills Academy for sharing their guide with us. To purchase a copy of Creating an Energy Efficient and Sustainable Home, which is priced at £5.99, visit

*All information in this article has been taken with the approval from the National Skills Academy, but appears here in our own words.