How to make your home energy efficient
Want to cut your carbon footprint, or just want to save a little money? Either way, there are a few things you can do to make your home more energy efficient.
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Making some simple changes around the home can make a world of difference to both the planet and your monthly gas and electricity bills.
But it can sometimes be a little confusing to figure out where to start - do you have to install solar panels everywhere, or can you start smaller?
These tips should be relatively easy to do and, on the whole, shouldn't cost the earth.
READ MORE: How to read your energy bill
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How to be more energy efficient at home
Changing your habits when it comes to gas, water and electricity can help reduce your bills and carbon footprint. Make these simple changes around the house and see what a difference they make each month:
Turn down your thermostat
The first thing to try is to keep your heating low. This can be tricky, especially in winter, but the lower your thermostat, the lower your energy bill.
This doesn’t have to be a dramatic change - even a couple of degrees lower than your usual number could save you money. If the house gets a bit too chilly for you, close your curtains to retain heat or invest in thermal curtains for winter.
A 2012 paper published by the Department of Energy & Climate Change revealed that lowering your thermostat from 20°C to 18°C was the top recommended energy-saving behaviour.
Also, installing a smart thermostat could also help save you hundreds of pounds a year. These work by only heating the rooms you are using and are controlled through your phone, so you can heat your home more efficiently and save money in the long run.
READ MORE: What is a smart meter?
Never leave appliances on standby
Similarly effective to turning off light bulbs for energy conservation, you should also turn off appliances after use. This includes laptops, TVs, printers and washing machines. Switching these items off at the plug allows you to save roughly £30 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Wash clothes at a lower temperature
Washing your clothes at 30 degrees, instead of higher temperatures, uses roughly 40% less energy, which can save at least £50 a year. Just ensure you have a laundry detergent that works at lower temperatures – having to wash your clothes multiple times will defeat the purpose.
Speaking of detergent, you could save yourself even more by getting an Ecoegg, which replaces your detergent completely and lasts for up to 720 washes.
Wash full loads
When washing your clothes, remember to do it in full loads rather than several smaller loads, as this again uses less energy. So, rally around the house and collect everyone’s washing. This also applies to the dishwasher - you should always ensure it is full before turning it on.
Defrost your freezer
Regularly defrosting both your fridge and your freezer helps them to run more efficiently in the future. Also, it’s helpful to pack your fridge full. Surprisingly the more food you stock, the less time the fridge has to run to remain cool. If you have a lot of empty space in your freezer, you could fill it with bottles of tap water.
Avoid wasting water
Small actions such as showering instead of taking a bath or turning the taps off while you brush your teeth can make all the difference. In short, try to avoid water running for a long period of time. Also, when using the kettle, ensure you only fill it to the amount you need, rather than filling it to the maximum every time.
READ MORE: Green energy explained
How to make your home more energy efficient
As well as altering your habits, there are many energy saving changes you can make to your home. While the following may come at a cost, they all make up for it in terms of the money you save on heating bills. Not to mention they have the potential to make your home more valuable.
It's worth letting your home insurance provider know if you make any home improvements that could increase your home's rebuild cost.
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Install loft insulation
Properly insulating your loft can help keep the heat in your home and the energy bills down. In fact, having your loft insulated could save you hundreds of pounds each year.
This doesn’t have to apply exclusively to your loft. Insulating any cavity walls around the house can also drastically reduce carbon emissions and your heating bill.
Get a new boiler
Although investing in a new boiler may be pricey, it can make the biggest difference to your home, as heating accounts for roughly 55% of your energy bills.
Therefore, upgrading from a G-rated boiler to one with an A-rating can save you around £300 a year.
Try energy-efficient appliances
As well as energy-efficient light bulbs, switching other appliances can make a world of difference. For example, an electric oven with an A+ efficiency rating uses roughly 40% less energy than a B rated oven, according to the Energy Savings Trust. Also consider energy-efficient dishwashers, fridge-freezers and even eco-kettles to keep your energy consumption down.
Opt for a water-saving shower head
Energy efficient shower heads work by reducing the amount of water used. They do this by mixing the water with air or lowering the flow rate of the water. If you don’t want to spend money on a new shower head, simply try and reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower, if you can stick to five minutes this will help lower your bill.
The 2012 paper from the Department for Energy & Climate Change listed water-efficient shower heads as one of the top six things you can do to lower your energy usage.
Install double glazing
Double-glazed windows use two sheets of glass to trap more heat inside your house, allowing you to lower the thermostat and consequently, your bills. Installing double glazed windows with a rating of A++ could produce annual savings of £115.
Try solar energy
An important thing to consider when it comes to increasing your energy efficiency is solar energy. Installing solar panels on your roof allows you to generate your own power instead of paying for it. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that you can provide 40% of your home’s energy with these cells. On top of that you can even sell excess energy back to the National Grid.
However, these systems don’t come cheap and can cost you roughly £12,000. Although this is pricey, they will also result in the most savings. It’s important to check with your provider first, as some companies even offer free solar panels if you return any income made through selling the energy back.
What if you work from home?
If you work from home, you’ll naturally use more gas and electricity than if you were out at work all day, which makes it even more important to be mindful of your energy usage. If at least half of the energy you use is for business purposes, it’s worth comparing business energy deals to see if you could save money with a commercial energy tariff.
READ MORE: How to switch energy supplier