What can you do to reduce energy consumption?
Select the items in the home below to see how you can improve your energy efficiency, reduce your emissions and start saving money.
Monitor your usage:
Studies have shown that people who monitor their energy use typically see reductions of 5-10% per year, just by being more aware of when appliances are on and how much energy is used by each.
Many homes now have smart meters installed, to ensure precise readings are sent directly to the energy supplier. All homes will be fitted with a smart meter by 2024. If you don't have one already, your energy supplier will be able to tell you when you can expect to have one fitted as part of their rollout planning.
If your energy supplier cannot supply one soon, you can purchase an electricity monitor for your home or for a single appliance from £15 and up. Alternatively, you can keep your own record using Congleton Sustainability Group's 'Weekly Watt Watch' kit - containing full instructions for recording your gas and electricity use, using your current meters. You can access a kit here http://www.congletonpartnership.co.uk/sustainability/carbon-reduction-group/weekly-watt-watch/
A lot of energy is wasted when appliances are left on when not in use. As well as things like lights being left on, appliances that are left in standby mode can also draw quite a large amount of power, especially if they are a few years old. Have a look at which appliances are left on standby in your home, and which of these can be turned off at the socket instead. Note: Certain appliances aren't meant to be regularly turned off - such as wifi routers, but televisions, dvd players, stereo systems, games consoles and chargers could all be drawing energy and could each be costing you money you don't need to spend.
Reduce the cost of lighting your home (and the carbon dioxide produced) by up to 80% with LED lighting!
Switching to LED lights is a really simple and fairly low cost way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on reduced energy consumption. LED bulbs are twice as energy efficient as energy saving fluorescent bulbs and up to 10 times more efficient than the older style tungsten filament bulbs. And, unlike energy saving fluorescent bulbs, LED lights switch on at full brightness instantly. They are now available in a variety of 'warmths' and brightness, and come in a range of fitting sizes. Note: If your lights are currently fitted with dimmer switches, these will need to be replaced with LED compatible versions.
How much could I save?
LED bulbs pay for themselves within a year, as each bulb will save you approximately £6 per year in energy efficiency. They also last much longer than other bulbs, meaning you could eventually save up to 80% of the cost of lighting your home, and the same percentage of carbon, if you replaced all your lights with LED bulbs.
Heating your home accounts for about two thirds of all household energy, so big savings can be made. The simplest change is how your thermostat is programmed - when your heating is switched on and off and at what time your heating is set to switch on - could provide large savings over the course of the year.
If your thermostat is more basic in design, consider upgrading it to gain more control over your heating settings. A range of useful options exist for a variety of budgets and some are even accessible via your phone.
Quick Tip - Turn it down a notch!
For every degree your thermostat is turned down, you can save a further 10% on your heating bill. You can also consider having different heat settings for different rooms in your house, so that heat can be conserved only in rooms currently in use. And of course, you don't need to heat water for washing all day, it can be set to come on only twice a day, for morning and evening use.
If your tank and water pipes are not insulated, installing insulation will keep your water hotter for longer by reducing the amount of heat that escapes by up to 75%, saving energy, thus reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money. It's cheap and easy to fit, so this is a DIY option even if you're renting.
A hot water tank jacket, and insulation for hot water pipes can easily pay for itself within the first year.
Keep it cosy.
In a typical home, about 20% of all heat loss is from ventilation and draughts. This wastes energy and makes your home uncomfortable in winter.
You can find draughts where there are gaps between floorboards, around door frames, loft hatches, windows, chimneys and pipes. Modern windows are often more draught proof, if fitted correctly, whereas wooden windows are more likely to benefit from some draught sealing.
A variety of draught sealing solutions are available for windows, doors, chimneys and floorboards, and most are cheap to buy and easy to install.
One of the easiest ways to block draughts is to draw your curtains in the evening.
Quick tip! Ensure that they sit behind any radiators, so the heat stays in the room and not next to the windows.
If you have wooden or metal windows, you could consider double glazing. In some instances you can gain financial support for this and other types of energy saving home renovation. https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/financial-support-for-home-energy/
You can find more information on insulating your home from draughts and ventilation on the Energy Saving Trust website: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home/reducing-home-heat-loss/
How much heat do you think could be lost from an uninsulated roof in your home?
The answer is a whopping 25% of the heat lost from your home is directly from the roof, unless you have proper insulation installed. Insulation acts as a blanket, trapping heat rising from the house below. The insulating material is simply laid in the loft, between and then over the joists. It's quite easy to install roof insulation yourself if you are the homeowner and it can lead to really significant savings. The insulation pays for itself in about one year, if installed yourself, and within 2 years if installed professionally. What's more, it will likely remain effective for 40 years, and will save up to 1000kg of carbon dioxide every year.
Before you start, check the installation advice on the Energy Saving Trust website: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/roof-and-loft-insulation/
It may also surprise you to learn that about one third of all heat lost from the home is lost through walls, if they are not properly insulated. Unless your house was built in the last 10 years, the walls will likely be made of two layers with an air cavity between them. Filling this cavity with insulation foam can dramatically increase the warmth in your home, and save you money, not to mention significantly reduce your home's carbon footprint. It can also help to reduce condensation in your home, which can lead to damp and mold.
Installation will require a professional, but it is a quick process and will cost a few hundred pounds. The savings made on your energy bill will pay for the insulation within three years, and could even add to the value of your property.
As this is a more extensive upgrade, you may be eligible for financial support to help cover the cost of the work. You can find out about national and local schemes below:
EST website information: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home/financial-support/
Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use pipes that are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home.
A ground source heat pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe, called a ground loop, which is buried in your garden.
Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump.
The ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so the heat pump can be used throughout the year.
An air source heat pump works in a similar way extracting heat from the air. These work best if your house is well insulated.