- up to 35% of heat is lost through uninsulated walls
- up to 25% of heat is lost through an uninsulated roof
- Up to 15% of heat is lost below an uninsulated floor
- up to 15% of heat escapes through gaps around doors and windows
- Fitting a hot water tank jacket saves money and keeps water hot longer
- Fitting new heating controls could cut your fuel bills
- Installing an efficient A-rated central heating boiler saves energy and cuts heating costs
- Renewable or low carbon heating systems can reduce harmful emissions and cut heating costs
Save energy in your home
This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of improving the energy efficiency of your home.
By installing loft insulation to a depth of at least 270 mm (about 11 inches), you can save around 20% of your heating fuel costs.
You can bring in a professional to install it for you. Alternatively, you can speak to your local Builders Merchant or DIY specialist for advice on how to install it, and what protective clothing you should wear.
It is recommended that you draught strip and insulate your loft hatch, and, insulate your cold water tank and pipes in the loft at the same time.
Expected payback period (that is, how long it would take you to recoup the value of your initial investment in lower fuel bills): 2-3 year for DIY; 5-6 years for work carried out by an installer.
This is the most cost-effective measure after loft insulation.
Cavity wall insulation is a simple solution which reduces heat loss through walls by up to 60%, and can save up to 35% on fuel bills.
However, it is a specialist job, so you will need to use an expert. All the materials used are produced under the strictest quality control to comply with the highest safety standards. Cavity wall insulation comes with a 25-year guarantee from CIGA (Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency).
Expected payback period: 4 years.
External walls can be insulated either on the outside or on the inside.
By insulating them outside, when re-rendering or cladding, you can save up to 35% per year on your fuel bills.
Expected payback period: 12-13 years.
Insulating them inside is called "dry lining". This involves fitting insulation and plasterboard onto a timber frame and is equally effective.
This is, however, a major piece of work and you will have to take off and refit all skirting boards, doors and window surrounds. It will be more costly and disruptive where built in furniture, such as kitchen units, has to be removed and refitted.
There are products available for dry lining solid walls which do not reduce the size of the rooms. It is more cost-effective to dry line a solid wall property if you are carrying out other major works at the same time.
The expected payback period averages 6-7 years but this can vary from house to house depending on how much work it entails.
Heat is lost through draughty, ill-fitting doors and windows. The solution is simple: fit effective draught proofing materials. Not only will you save on your fuel bill, you will also enjoy more comfort.
The work can be done by an insulation professional, or you can do it yourself. Your local Builder's Merchant or DIY store will be able to help.
Expected payback period: 2 years for DIY; 6 years if work carried out by an installer.
10% of heat can be lost through suspended wooden ground floors. Floor insulation can halve this. Your can also fill gaps between floorboards and skirting boards to prevent heat loss and draughts.
Expected payback period: 2-3 years.
Up to 23% of heat loss from a home can be through windows. Double-glazing can reduce this loss by up to 50%.
Better still, new energy-efficient glass technology (low emissivity) can reduce heat loss through windows by a further 10%. It has the same effect as triple glazing and is usually cheaper.
Double-glazing will also reduce noise and draughts.
The optimum gap between the panes of glass should be 20 mm.
You are advised to check that the installer complies with all planning and regulatory requirements.
Expected payback period: varies according to your choice of window type but could be expected to be between 10 and 20 years.
If your home has two or more bedrooms, central heating is normally the most effective option. Smaller homes, however, may benefit more from individual heaters.
The following measures should help to reduce your bills.
If your boiler is unreliable or needs updating, replace it with one that is modern, energy efficient and correctly sized.
You could cut your fuel bills by up to 30%.
Take advice from heating professionals on the types of boilers their reliability and how to site radiators for maximum efficiency.
Expected payback period based on lower fuel usage: 3 to 4 years
By upgrading heating controls, you will improve the efficiency of any central heating
system, and cut your costs by up to 20%. You can choose from a wide range of controls, but four elements are especially important. These are:
- room temperature
- the temperature of stored hot water
- on-off times for heating and hot water
- switching off the boiler when heating is no longer required
- Thermostatic radiator valves also provide the added benefit of individual room control.
Expected pay-back period: 5-8 years.
In most homes, lighting accounts for 10-15% of the electricity bill. You can save up to £10 in a single year by replacing a 100 watt ordinary bulb with an equivalent energy-saving bulb.
Energy saving lightbulbs
These are known as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL). They use about a quarter of the electricity of the older style filament bulbs and they can last up to eight times longer.
There are several different shapes and sizes of CFL to suit table and standard lamps, as well as ceiling and wall light fittings. They come with the same choice of bayonet or screw fittings as the older style filament bulbs.
To ensure value for money, the bulb you buy should state that it will last for at least 8,000 hours. Energy saving light bulbs should be used in areas where they will be left on for long periods.
High frequency ballasts for fluorescent tubes are more expensive, but they do avoid flicker and can save you a further 15-20% energy.
They are even more efficient than energy saving light bulbs and are particularly suitable for kitchens, halls, workshops and garages
The European Community has introduced a labelling scheme for fridges, freezers, fridge/freezers, washing machines and tumble dryers.
The label will tell you at a glance the energy efficiency of each model compared with other appliances of the same category.
Models labelled 'A' are the most energy efficient, and can use up to less than half the energy of a similar 'G' rated model.
Remember, therefore, to check the label and to buy appliances as close as possible to 'A'.
There are lots of things you can do every day to save energy and save yourself money.
Here are some suggestions:
Fridge or fridge/freezer
- don't leave the fridge door open for longer than necessary, as cold air will escape
- avoid putting hot food straight into the fridge; let it cool down first;
- defrost your fridge regularly as this will help it to keep running efficiently, and so reduce running costs. If it refrosts quickly,
- check that the door seals are working properly;
- try to site your fridge in a cool place with adequate ventilation at the back.
Washing machines/tumble dryers
- wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine. If that is not possible, use the half-load or economy programme if your machine has one
- choose a cool wash cycle of 40ºC for most of your washing;
- don't put really wet clothes into your tumble dryer; wring them out well or spin dry them first. It is much faster and it will save you money.
Pots and pans
- choose the right size pan for the food and cooker, and keep lids on when cooking. The base should just cover an electric ring. With gas you need to ensure that the flames only heat the bottom of the pan. If they are coming up the side of the pan then you are wasting heat.
- Don't use more water than you need.
- if you are too warm, turn the thermostat down by 1ºC;
- if you are going away for a few days then leave the thermostat on a low setting to provide protection from freezing without costing too much;
- draw the curtains in the evening when it is cold and the heating is on.
- water should not be heated to a scalding temperature. For most people setting the cylinder thermostat at 60ºC/140ºF is usually quite adequate for bathing, washing and laundry;
- always remember to put the plug in a basin or sink. Leaving hot water taps running without the plug is both wasteful and expensive;
- take a shower instead of a bath: it uses less than half the hot water.
- heat only the amount of water you are going to use, but make sure you cover the elements, so don't fill the kettle up for just one drink.
Televisions, music centre and home computers
- when not using these electrical goods, switch them off at the on/off button rather than leaving them on stand-by. It is safer and a simple way to save money.
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