If you own your home, it probably represents the largest capital investment you have. Even if you are renting on a long or short term basis, it will still represent a large potion of your monthly expenditure, in rental payments, utility and possibly maintenance costs.
With utility costs continuing to rise, due largely to the increasing cost of fossil fuels, it makes sense to look at making sensible investments to reduce energy use and therefore monthly expenditure.
What is a sensible expenditure will depend on the length of time you will continue to occupy your property but anything that will reduce ongoing costs sufficiently to pay for the one of alteration is worth considering.
Even if you are renting a property it could be worth speaking with your landlord and seeing if they will fund the works or part of them, as expenditure will continue to benefit tenants in the future.
There are some quick wins, with insulation being amongst the lowest cost improvement for the greatest gains. Adding extra insulating to a loft will help keep in the heat, which has a natural tendency to rise and escape upwards. Cavity wall insulation can also help keep in your valuable heat.
An immediate saving can be had by turning down the thermostat on your heating system. This saving, which costs absolutely no money to implement, can save 1 % of your heating bill for each 1 degree of reduction over an eight hour period. By gradually reducing the temperature by a small amount each week, it is possible to build up to significant savings. If you are going out, try and get into the habit of turning the thermostat down even more; it may be a little cooler when you get home, but you will save energy and money. If your heating is not programmed to go off at night, consider doing this, or turning it down by a further 5 degrees for a further 5 per cent saving on your heating bills.
Another simple saving is to replace existing light bulbs with low energy ones. These are now available very cheaply (and as traditional light bulbs are being phased out the low energy options is now in many cases the cheaper option). These will start saving you money on your electricity bills straight away, and if you are renting short term, you can simply swap the bulbs back when you come to move again and take the energy efficient ones with you.
If these savings are not enough see how you can save water (which will also save energy to heat it). Showering uses less water than baths and there are simple attachments that will even reduce the amount of water most showers uses, without effecting the quality of your shower. Finally a plastic bottle filled with water in a toilet cistern can save several litres of water every flush. If you pay for your water through a water meter then this could save you money and if not it will still help make your home a greener one.