You might be worried about rising energy prices, global climate change or energy security issues – all these are good reasons to save energy and home is a good place to start. After all, here in the UK a third of energy use is in the home. Or, maybe you have quite low bills but only by being very careful with the heating and the TV and so on – you’d like to know how to make your home more efficient so you can be a bit more comfortable without having to pay extra. So - how? What next? There is no one size fits all solution, but here is some advice to get you started.
Start today - you will find things on the checklist that you can do this minute - like turning down radiators in unused rooms, turning off appliances when they are not in use, adjusting the thermostat. It's just good housekeeping really.
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Find more advice here.
How much do you use for standby? As a rough rule of thumb, 1 W continuously costs about £2/year. My microwave oven is old and it uses 3W on standby. Just switching that off at the wall saves me £7/year.
Tumble dryers For many households, the biggest single energy hog is the tumble dryer. One load can use up to 3 kWh. Doing that 3 times a week would be £42 in the year. If you use a washing line instead when weather permits - say half the time - that would save you £21.
After going through all that you probably have a great long list of things that you can do but you can’t possibly do it all at once. So you need to make a plan. Here are some things to consider when making that plan.
Where do you sit on cold winter evenings? Is that room cosy? Reducing heat loss in that room could make you more comfortable as well as saving money.
Where is the worst heat loss? For example suppose you have a bedroom with a north facing wall and single glazing in the windows - Could you put in secondary glazing? Could you insulate that wall? However, if you don’t use that room much then you could turn down the radiator in there and come back to it later.
Draught proofing is usually quicker payback than insulation – and it makes you more comfortable very quickly. You can often do this DIY, over a few weekends. It is worth exploring your house looking for draughts. Do this several times, when the weather is windy and coming in different directions. There is advice on locating draughts here
Controlling the temperature of your hot water. If you have a combi boiler, there should be separate controls for the temperature for the radiator circuit and the hot water temperature. If you have a hot water cylinder it should have a thermostat which you can adjust. Reducing the temperature of the cylinder reduces heat loss. Also do make sure it has adequate insulation. See our tips page for more on quick hot water savings.
Some things can be easily factored in when you are doing other work on the house. For example:
Some things can be done a bit at a time, others are better done in one go. For example:
Consider how long you are likely to be in your house. If you expect to leave in a few years it may not be worth doing the big things (though energy saving improvements can increase the value of your home). However, if you plan to stay put for ten years or more, then it is worth considering a ‘deep’ retrofit – but you can also take your time to plan it properly. Don’t rush and do take expert advice. This is your home and you live in it!