Building an efficient self-build home with low running costs

One of the many attractive prospects of self-build is keeping running costs down using energy-efficient design and technology.

With so many techniques and materials, it can be quite overwhelming so it’s best to seek advice from your designer or builder at the design stage – they will help you find the most effective solution for your budget, site and build.

Here’s a quick  overview of what energy-efficient options are out there:

Water heating

The method you use to heat water must be considered as it is the second largest opportunity for efficiency improvement after heating your home. Solar thermal water heaters, heat pump water heaters, electric resistance water heaters, and hot water recirculation systems can all keep power costs down. Water saving measures such as water saving taps, appliances and shower heads mean you use less hot water.

Bathroom tap

Energy modelling

Energy modelling software allows self-builders to estimate how much energy the home will use. The home's design can then be altered based on the results.


Insulation materials will pay for themselves through reduced power bills in just a few years. There are many options and what you choose will depend on many factors, particularly if it is used in walls or the floor. New and innovative materials are being introduced all the time. Some options include glass fibre, mineral wool, sheep's wool, extruded polystyrene and cellulose fibre.

Cladding and solar panels

External cladding not only breathes life into brickwork and masonry, but it is also an effective means of insulation and an ideal way to improve the energy efficiency of a home. Types of cladding include render, timber, composite weatherboard, uPVC panels, brick slips and metal cladding.

The popularity of solar electric panels has grown over the past decade and can offer substantial energy savings. The panels work by capturing energy from the sun and converting it into electricity using photovoltaic (PV) cells. There are many factors to consider with solar panels, such as government legislation, location and how long they last before they need replacing.

Solar panels on roof

Did you know?

One of the most important things self-builders should consider is: how is the fabric of my building going to perform? And, how can the fabric of my building create an efficient, comfortable space that significantly reduces running costs? Time spent thinking about and planning your fabric is time well spent!

Saint-Gobain developed the Multi-Comfort building concept, using a range of building technologies to create high performing fabrics based on the popular European standard 'Passivhaus' - but incorporating various other fabric enhancements.

To find our more about Passivhaus or learn more below to read about the Multi-Comfort fabric principles..