Making your Malta property more energy efficient is good for you and for the environment. Energy efficient homes consume (and waste) as little energy as possible. They also reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by maximising the use of renewable energy resources. Anyone can make their property more energy efficient; you don’t have to build a property from scratch to enjoy the benefits of an energy efficient home! As a homeowner, there are many different ways you can adapt your home to make it more environmentally-friendly and cheaper to run. The initial costs can be expensive but the long-term benefits definitely outweigh this fact. The government has also recently introduced several schemes to help you cover the cost of adapting your home. Keep on reading to find out about all the energy-saving changes you can make to your home and how much money you can get towards the costs!
One of the easiest (and potentially cheapest) things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home is to update your appliances and light bulbs. If you take a look around your home, you’ll notice that most things in sight run on electricity. Your oven and your hob (especially in Malta as there’s no natural gas), your kettle, TV, fridge, computer, AC, and your lighting are just a few. Nowadays, in Malta, it’s very unlikely that you don’t have electric lighting (unless you are a serious candle enthusiast!). Simply by switching all of the lightbulbs in your home to either LEDs or energy-saving lightbulbs, you’ll make a significant difference to your overall energy consumption. In fact, switching your bulbs could potentially save you up to 80% on your lighting bills!
When buying new appliances, you should check their energy rating. Within the EU, most white goods and other large appliances are given an energy rating. This includes fridges, freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers, AC units and dishwashers. Appliances are rated from A+++ to G. A+++ is the highest rating (most energy efficient) and G is the lowest rating (least energy efficient). The better the energy rating of your appliances, the less energy they will need to run. They’ll be cheaper to run, too! If you’re buying a new appliance, make sure you do your research and try to buy the most energy efficient model that’s within your budget. Remember that spending a little more in the beginning will pay off later.
Consider also replacing any old appliances you might have, as technology (and awareness on the subject of ‘energy efficiency’) has come a long way in the last 10 years! Along with white goods, many other appliances that you use regularly also come in energy-efficient models. You can buy energy-efficient or ’eco’: hairdryers, kettles, blenders, coffee-makers, toasters, computers, TVs, irons and more. The list really is endless! If you keep ‘energy efficiency’ in your mind when you’re shopping for electrical appliances, you’ll be doing yourself more than just a small favour.
Your boiler is also another appliance that’s worth investing in. As there’s no natural gas in Malta, most homeowners install electric water heaters. If you have an old one, it’ll likely be wasting up to 30% of its energy input – and that’s a lot of electricity to be paying for that’s just getting wasted! Even a brand-new, ‘eco’ electric boiler can still waste up to 10% energy! So, if you’re looking to install a new boiler in your home, why not consider a ‘heat pump water heater’? These work just like a fridge, except they heat instead of cool. A heat pump water heater takes heat from the surrounding air and uses it to heat the water inside the tank. You can even buy ‘hybrid’ ones that use electricity to ‘top up’ the hot water in times of excessive consumption, i.e. when everyone in the family wants to take a shower after getting back from the beach.
Heat pump water heaters, even hybrid ones, are up to 3x more efficient than traditional, electric water heaters! They also last a lot longer – up to 15 years. They can be expensive to buy and install (certainly more than any traditional electric boiler) but, again, they’ll save you money over the long term. Through the Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS), you can even claim money back through the ‘Heat Pump Water Heater Scheme’. You can download the application form online and get 50% up to €700 of your money back.
Aside from appliances, improving the insulation of your home will drastically reduce energy consumption as well as heating and cooling costs. For the average household, more than half of the electricity bill goes towards heating and cooling the home. Making sure your home is well-insulated will reduce costs and minimise wasted energy. If your home isn’t well insulated, you might as well be paying to cool and heat your whole street! Insulating your walls and roof and installing double glazing on all your windows is key to having a more energy efficient home.
In terms of insulation, cellulose, fiberglass and foam materials are all viable options. Do your research before you make any purchases to see which option is best for your home. In a hot and humid climate, such as we have in Malta, foam comes well-recommended. However, there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ so it’s best to get a professional opinion. When it comes to your windows, installing double glazing will not only improve the insulation of your home but it will also reduce noise pollution. If you live on a busy street, this is definitely something to consider. Being able to come home and shut out the outside world is a beautiful thing.
REWS (the Regulator for Energy and Water Services) has a scheme called ‘Roof Insulation and Double Glazing Grant Scheme’. While this doesn’t apply to wall insulation, it can save you money on the installation of roof insulation and double glazing in your home. Through this scheme, you can apply to receive 50% up to €1,000 towards the costs! If you’re building from scratch, you can apply for 50% up to €350 towards any double glazing and roof insulation costs, provided that your new construction meets the minimum requirements.
Upgrading your appliances and improving the insulation of your home will all help towards your goal of reducing energy costs and making your Malta property more energy efficient. However, at the end of the day, you’ll still be consuming electricity and receiving a bill every month! If you want to cut running costs even further, you could think about installing solar panels on your roof. The sun shines down on Malta for an average of 3,000 hours per year! This makes solar panels an excellent choice for generating much-needed electricity. Not only that, it will reduce your usage of electricity produced by non-renewable energy resources. Climate change is real (don’t believe Trump).
The kilowatt hours that your solar panel(s) generate will be fed back into the grid and taken off your electricity bill. If you install enough of them, you can dramatically reduce the size of your electricity bills and recuperate your installation costs in just a few years. Solar panels, aka PV systems, are expensive to buy and install. It’s super frustrating that anything that helps the planet and reduces energy waste is so unaffordable! However, through the government’s ‘PV Grant Scheme’, run by REWS, you can get up to €2,300 towards your initial costs. Although this won’t cover everything, it’ll certainly be a big help!
If you are seriously interested in making your Malta property more efficient, there are many blogs and articles you can consult online for ideas and tips. Eco appliances can all be bought here in Malta or online, including heat pump water heaters and solar panels. Those of you who are looking to install double glazing, insulation, a heat pump water heater or a PV system, don’t forget about all of the financial help you can get. This is all done through the REWS government schemes. You can find out more about all of these schemes at: rews.org.mt. On their website, you can read all of the guidelines and find all of the relevant application forms.
Save yourself money and save the planet – what is there not to love about that?