Typically around 80 % of a buildings energy usage is to heat the building and to provide hot water. Below are some tips to help reduce your energy usage and save money on your household bills. 1. Draft proof your home Seal the building to prevent excessive heat loss, but maintain air vents in working order. In the typical home 50% of heat loss is through drafts and open doors.
- Service and maintain windows and doors to ensure a tight fit and prevent drafts when closed. Don’t forget to check the seal at the attic hatch as well. It is possible to purchase cheap rubber seals which can be applied around widows and doors to seal gaps; however they wear easily and may need to be replaced regularly.
- Provide closable air vent covers for use only when rooms are unoccupied.
- Block your chimney when not in use by using crushed newspapers or an old cushion. But a better solution would be to install a closed flue stove which is much more energy efficient than an open fire.
2. Maximise your insulation Insulate the floor of your attic and access hatch. This is relatively cheap and easy. Increasing the insulation for the walls is more difficult for an existing building and the options which are available are: pumping insulation into the cavity (recommended option), externally applying insulation and then internally applying insulation.
3. Upgrade your external windows and doors Install double or triple glazed windows which contain low e glass and are argon gas filled. Install external doors that are well insulated. Install heavy curtains over windows and doors, close these at night. Ensure the curtains don’t cover the radiators.
4. Upgrade your heating controls Provide more effective control of your home heating by upgrading the heating controls in your home. Provide thermostats and a digital timer control so that the heating is automatically controlled once set. Install thermostatic controls to each radiator so that each radiator/room can be individually controlled also.
5. Service your boiler regularly Regularly servicing your boiler will ensure it will run efficiently and prolong its life. However ensure that the person servicing the boiler is trained and has the correct equipment like a flue gas analysiser. When replacing your boiler you should purchase the most efficient one that your budget allows. In the case of oil boilers buy a condensing boiler. See note on the EU energy scheme in electrical appliances below.
6. Use energy efficient lighting and turn off unnecessary lights Use energy efficient light bulbs especially for outside lighting. Energy efficient lighting has improved hugely in recent times with no ‘warm up’ delays in most cases. These bulbs will typically use 20% of the energy of normal bulbs and last many times longer. However even when these bulbs are installed, switch off any lighting when not necessary. In the case of outside lighting it is much better to have the lights activated by a motion sensor to prevent unnecessary wastage.
7. Use your electrical appliances efficiently There are many ways to save electricity and money when using electrical appliances.
- When purchasing new, ensure you select the most efficient appliance your budget allows, an EU scheme make this easy. The efficiency of the appliance is rated from A to G on a label and a label with this rating is put on every appliance for easy comparison. An A rating is the most energy efficient and G the least efficient.
- Clean the coils at the back of your fridge and freezer to ensure they run more efficiently.
- Clean the air and water filters in extract fans, dryers and clothes and dish washers on a regular basis.
- Same money by using the appliances (washer, dryer) at off peak times, using ‘night saver’ electricity.
8. Dry clothes naturally Try not to use a tumble dryer to dry clothes where possible. Dry clothes outside where possible or inside in a well ventilated and heated room. Try not to place clothes on radiators as this prevents the heat reaching the room and is inefficient.
9. Reduce the temperature of your home Try and set your thermometer for a temperature of around 19 degrees, which should usually be sufficient, if this isn’t, try and increase the temperature only in the most used room or try wearing more clothes. It has been estimated that for every 1 degree reduction in the temperature of your thermostat your heating bill will reduce by approx. 10%.
10. Some surprising energy saving tips
- Modern dishwashers use less water and energy than washing by hand.
- Laptop computers are usually a lot more energy efficient than desktop computers (to conserve battery power).
- When using hot water, consider leaving it in the sink, cooking pot or bath, until it has cooled down rather than letting it drain away immediately when you have are finished. This will release the heat into the room. Personally I would only do this if the rooms are well ventilated to prevent condensation problems.
- Once your mobile electrical device (phone, laptop etc) is charged, turn off the charger.