The paper deals with the accuracy of guaranteed error bounds on outputs of interest computed from approximate methods such as the finite element method. A considerable improvement is introduced for linear problems, thanks to new bounding techniques based on Saint-Venant's principle. The main breakthrough of these optimized bounding techniques is the use of properties of homothetic domains that enables to cleverly derive guaranteed and accurate bounding of contributions to the global error estimate over a local region of the domain. Performances of these techniques are illustrated through several numerical experiments. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.