Homeowners rocked by huge rises in their energy bills are increasingly being encouraged to turn to green solutions to save money and reduce their carbon footprint - but will these changes deliver the savings they claim or will consumers end up incorporating expensive �green' upgrades that take a lifetime to pay off?

To help consumers, RICS’ Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) has developed The Greener Homes Price Guide which offers impartial expert advice on the cost, energy saving, payback period, and disruptiveness of green improvements to your property.

By using the guide, homeowners will be able to target the areas in their homes where green upgrades would have the most impact. This will enable them to make informed choices on how best to improve their homes, whether this is with a view to solely reduce their carbon footprint or reduce their energy bills. Often caught between wanting to be more environmentally friendly and needing value for money many consumers are left confused over which green upgrades offer the best energy savings for the best price.

For example the cost of installing cavity wall insulation would be between £440 (for a terraced house) and £2,400 (for a detached) but with an energy bill saving of as much as £145 per annum this cost could be paid back over as few as three years. Replacing a wall mounted boiler would cost £1,720 however and as it makes a saving of £95 per year it would take up to 18 years to offset this. In contrast installing solar panels costs between £4,000 - £5,000 yet could save as little as £24 per year, meaning it would take around 208 years to pay back the cost of installation.

BCIS Executive Director, Joe Martin, says: “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.

“We encourage governments and companies not just here in the UK, but all over the world to continue to invest more in the research and development of green technologies.” In addition to offering cost advice The Greener Homes Price Guide also includes practical advice on: what grants are available and how to apply for them when you need to apply for planning permission how to obtain builders or specialist contractors.