Home Energy Saving

 

Home Energy Saving

With 40% of the UK’s carbon emissions attributed to the transport and residential sectors, there is a long way to go before we achieve the 2020 reduction target of 34% below 1990 levels. 

Many people still believe that their actions do not make a difference to but the statistics are showing that we decreased our UK net CO2 emissions by 8.7% in 2008 and 9.8% in 2009. There are now so many ways to save money, energy and the planet without having to invest too much time or effort. This section will focus on the small, medium and large solutions which can significantly help to reduce the carbon emissions your home produces and fight climate change. 

GraphThe average house spends on average: £1230 on fuel bills each year which can be up to 50% more than necessary due to the lack of energy saving measures being implemented in the home. 

There is also an Energy Saving Checklist which you can download to help you decide which measures you might want to adopt straightaway and those which may need a little more time, planning and financial investment. 

All houses when bought, sold or rented require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) this is an assessment about how energy efficient the property is. They cost around £150 and the rating given is similar to that of household appliances ranging from A-G, A being the most efficient.

Minimising Heat Loss

Small Measures 
Draught proofing is a low cost but highly effective solution to reducing heat loss throughout your home. Typically all the entrance and exits will have some degree of heat loss as well as window frames, chimneys, letterboxes and cat flaps. Also any gaps between floor boards, skirting boards or service can be areas where draughts can occur; these can easily be eradicated with sealant paste. 

Removing the draughts not only keeps heat in during the winter but the heat out during the summer. You can simply determine where heat is escaping with a small feather or burning joss stick – if the smoke or feather moves you know you have a draught to deal with. 

It is however important to be mindful that some fuel burning appliances do require some ventilation and also timbers in the roof and floor. 

Windows will be the next problem if you don’t or can’t have double glazing and while it may not be the cheapest solution, installing secondary glazing or even triple glazing, will ensure you are draught free. 

If you can’t afford to replace your doors and windows some of the easiest and cheapest measures for draught proofing are as follows:

  • Draught Proof Door Compression Seals
  • Draught Proof Letter Box
  • Draught Proof Door Wiper Seals
  • Thermal Curtain Linings
  • Sausage Dog Draught Excluders

Medium Measures 
Insulation is one of the most cost effective ways of retaining heat within a home and is part of the Governments focus towards homeowners to reduce fuel bills. Millions of homes in the UK still do not have adequate insulation. Go outside when the snow comes and look at your property. If the snow is settling on your neighbours’ roofs and not on yours, heat is escaping through your roof and you are paying the energy bill to melt that snow! 

Loft InsulationLoft insulation is one of the easiest ways to help retain heat and is heavily subsidised by energy suppliers and even free for qualifying residents (low income and those over 70). The more loft insulation you install, the less heat that is lost. The optimum thickness has been shown to be 350mm, Building Regulations insist on a minimum of 270mm. 

If your loft space has been converted into a room then you will need to insulate in the sloping roof. High levels of insulation can be hard to achieve because a free air space of 50mm must be left between the insulation and the tiling felt, unless the felt is low-vapour resistant. The most economic way of achieving a good thickness of insulation in the roof slope is to have two layers of timber: the first to support the roof finish, the second to support the insulation and ceiling finish. Insulation can then fill in between the timbers, providing a thermal break between the timbers. 

If you wish to be as "green" as possible fit loft insulation from a natural and sustainable resource such as Thermafleece made from sheep’s wool.

In order to maximise heat retention older properties can benefit fromcavity wall insulation which again is subsidised by energy suppliers but can also be installed relatively cheaply. The wall insulation stops heat leaving or entering the cavity wall space therefore helping to reduce the need to switch heating systems on more frequently in winter or air conditioning unit’s on during the summer. 

Also available is floor insulation however this can be a much more invasive installation as floors have to be removed in order to put the insulation into the space between joists.

  • Loft Insulation
  • Cavity Wall Insulation
  • Floor / Ceiling Insulation

Large Measures 
Any door or window in your property has the potential to release heat out of your home. If your doors have gaps you can see through, it might be a cheaper long-term solution to replace them, ensuring they are professionally fitted and contain triple glazing. 

The same applies to your windows and although the cost of both doors and windows does require significant investment, the amount saved in heating bills could pay back the outlay much faster than you think.

  • Double Glazing (or secondary glazing)
  • Triple Glazing
  • Thermal Glass / Solar Glass
  • Draught Proof replacement Doors

Although rather expensive, double glazed windows are superb insulators compared to single glazed windows. If climate change is going to mean colder winters then the payback time will come down from decades to years when double glazing your home. 

However not all windows can be double glazed. English Heritage estimates that there are 44 million single glazed sash windows in the UK many of which are in listed buildings. For these and as an alternative to double glazing, there are replacement glass and glass coating products such as thermal glass on the market that are efficient at stopping heat loss and also trap solar heat inside the building. This is the greenhouse effect working for your benefit. 

Sunpipes are an innovative way to pipe natural daylight from your rooftop into your home to save on electricity bills by brightening areas from dusk till dawn where daylight from windows cannot reach.

Reducing Fuel Bills

Small Measures 
Put all clothes washing at a 30 degree wash cycle 
Only boil enough water for the amount you need Light Bulb
Use microwaves and induction hobs as they are the most energy efficient methods of cooking 
Use energy efficient light bulbs 
Switch off as many appliances and entertainment systems as possible when not in use 
Take a 5 minute Shower instead of a bath 
Collect Rainwater for use in the garden 
Install a toilet Savaflush device 
Change all taps to water saving models 
Change Shower head or system to incorporate water saving 
Turn your heating thermostat down by 1 or more degrees to save 10% on your heating bills 
Turn your hot water temperature down; the standard heat setting is usually 60 degrees 

Medium Measures 
Energy Efficiency LabelBuy A+ rated Appliances: When buying a new appliance it is useful to look at the energy rating especially for frequently used high energy items such as washing machines, fridges and freezers. 

Appliances are rated from A to G. All white goods such as washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, fidges and freezers. 

A is the most energy efficient. As the technology and energy efficiency of products has increases so have the ratings. 

Fridges and Freezers also now have A+ and A++ ratings. 

Buy A or B rated Combi/Condensing Boiler: All new boilers installed must now be either A or B energy efficiency rated. 

If you can’t upgrade your boiler then lagging your hot water tank makes sense and is relatively inexpensive. Why pay to heat the water and then let the heat dissipate away? Fit a British Standard jacket that's at least 7.5cm thick. 

It will cost around £10 and will give a saving of £10-£15 a year. Hot water pipes can also be insulated to stop heat escaping from them. The best pipes to insulate are the ones between the boiler and hot water cylinder. Cost: around £1 per metre. 

Large Measures 
In order to have a much larger impact on your carbon emissions the best solution is to install renewable energy or microgeneration technology in your home. You can find more detail on each technology throughout the website. 

Although these solutions do involve higher investment the payback and reduction in both energy bills and carbon emissions is significant. Solutions include:

  • Solar water heating can reduce your gas bills by generating up to 60% of your hot water needs. Flat plate solar panels or evacuated tubes are installed on the roof and connected to your boiler system.
  • Electricity can be generated by installing photovoltaic panels. With the new Feed in Tariff (FIT) this is a good way to supply energy to your home, reduce your bills, receive income for the energy you use and any additional electricity sent back to the grid.
  • Wind Power is often a highly topical issue across the UK where wind farm are concerned but it is possible to generate electricity by installing a small scale wind turbine. It is essential that a full site survey is completed initially to see whether the investment and location will provide a suitable return both in power and financial gain.
  • Electricity has been generated by the power of water for many years now but more often only in large scale environments. However it is possible to generate electricity for your home through hydroelectric power if you have proper access to or own a river or stream as part of your property.
  • Ground and air source heating is a method of generating heat from under the ground using the power of a heat pump. This solution is ideal for new build or refurbishments where underfloor heating may be installed. Retrofitting can be complicated and disruptive to existing gardens and flooring.

Underfloor heating without ground or air source, is still a very energy efficient way to heat your home. You can either purchase a wet or electric system. The wet method is a low temperature heating system that, used in conjunction with a condensing boiler, can be 20% more fuel efficient than the equivalent radiator based system. 

Underfloor heating provides radiant heat which raises the temperature of the fabric of the room which suppresses the perception of body heat loss while also being warm underfoot. This in turn maintains a constant heat which lasts longer meaning the overall temperature of the system can be much lower than the heat and energy needed for traditional wet/radiator systems.

 
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