Heating and powering our homes is for many people their main source of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as a huge expense. There are literally hundreds of ways we can save energy and money without going cold. Here are our favourites to get you started:
Save energy without spending a penny
- GET A SMART METER and power display so that you can start to see how you are using electricity (and potentially gas) and so be able to manage it better. If you are unsure if you have a smart meter, or whether it is operating in a smart mode, then you can use this Citizens Advice Bureau to check.
- Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows, making sure that they do not cover your radiator.
- Turn your thermostat down by one degree (1º C) – it could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent.
- Is your hot water cylinder too hot? Your cylinder thermostat shouldn’t be set higher than 60º C.
- If you have a modern combi-boiler (and no hot water cylinder) turn down the radiator flow temperature to 50º C to help the boiler run in more efficient condensing mode. Here’s a handy guide on how to do it.
- Use the ‘economy’ setting on your washing machine or dishwasher if available. Also, all modern laundry detergents are designed to clean successfully at 30 or 40 C and there is no need for a pre-wash. Washing at 65º C requires twice as much energy as washing at 40º C.
- Only fill your kettle with as much water as you need (but remember to cover the elements if you’re using an electric kettle).
- Choose the right size pan for the food and cooker and put lids on pots when cooking. The food cooks quicker, which saves energy, and releases less moisture into the kitchen.
- Don’t put hot or warm food straight into the fridge; allow it to cool down first.
- Freezers or fridges that are filled with frost have to work harder to stay cold. They should be defrosted at least once a year or more frequently if they regularly frost up.
- Turn off radiators in rooms you don’t use and close their doors so as to just heat the space you are living in.
Spend just a little to save a lot
- STOP DRAUGHTS. A huge amount of heat can be lost through leaky windows, doors and even via gaps around ceiling lights. Letterbox covers, draught excluder tape and cheap secondary glazing are your friends.
- Gaps in floor boards and skirting boards can be another source of leakiness. Fill them with newspaper, beading or sealant.
- Replace old light bulbs with energy saving recommended ones – LEDs can cost a bit more than incandescents or halogens, but they use much less power and last much longer, so you’re guaranteed to save overall.
- If you have a hot water tank without an insulating jacket then fit one immediately to save the tank from embarrassment and save yourself money. Likewise for any hot water pipes that are accessible.
- Find out where your house is losing most heat by taking up Marlow Energy Group’s offer of a free survey using its thermal imaging camera
Invest to be the best
Radically cutting household carbon emissions requires significant investment – though look out for grants available, such as this Buckinghamshire scheme for low-income households. Here are some of the ways to make big improvements:
- INSULATE YOUR LOFT. It is one of the simplest and most effective ways to save energy because heat rises. So stop it escaping through your roof.
- Around 33% of the heat lost in your home is through the walls, so insulating them can be the most cost-effective way to save energy in the home. If you have cavity walls then fill them; if single-skinned then these can be insulated either internally or externally.
- Replace your windows with higher-spec double- or even triple-glazed models, and you will reduce not only heat loss but also noise.
- Underfloor insulation can reduce significant heat loss and draughts and help keep your feet much warmer.
- When it’s time to replace your gas boiler then consider switching to an electric heat pump. This is probably the largest single step towards reduced emissions that most households can make, though best advice is to ensure your house is properly insulated as a first step.