Home is somewhere we want to feel safe and warm. With most of us working from home and as the weather turns colder, it’s more important than ever to be energy efficient in the home. This can help us keep warm and save money on our energy bills, as well as reduce our carbon footprint – particularly important as around 22% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes.
Reduce your energy bills with simple ways to save energy
10% reduction in heating bills through a 1 degree change
Turn down thermostat – if you turn down your main thermostat just one degree it will cut your heating bill straight away, and you should not feel any difference.
£5 possible annual saving for a single replacement bulb
Low energy lighting – fitting a low energy bulb whenever you change a lightbulb will cut your electricity bill without having any other impact on your household.
What are the benefits of installing loft insulation?
Fitting an extra layer of insulation in your loft is a quick and easy way to cut your heating bills and make your home warmer. If you have an unheated loft with less than 200mm (8 inches) of insulation at the floor level, then it is probably worth adding an additional layer to help keep the heat in.
Reduce tumble dryer usage
Tumble dryers use a fair amount of electricity to heat the air they use, as well as to run the fan and motor. If you can dry clothes outside when possible you can cut your electricity use over the year. Some clothes will last better if you don’t tumble try them, too.
How to set your heating controls
There is a wide range of different heating systems for homes these days, and there are lots of different ways to control them. All of these systems and controllers operate in slightly different ways but, whatever heating system you have, and whatever controls you have, we all want the same two things – a comfortable house and low heating bills.
There are three basic principles for using heating controls effectively:
- Only heat the house when you need it to be hot.
- Only heat the rooms that you need to be hot.
- Only heat the house to the temperature you need to be comfortable, and no more.
Getting the timing right
Most houses have some sort of timer or programmer you can set to turn the heating on and off. You want to set this to come on a bit before you get up in the morning, and go off a bit before you go to bed. You’ll need to use a bit of trial and error to work out how much earlier to set the time to come on and go off.
Heating the right rooms
There’s usually not much point in heating a room that you’re not using. If your bedrooms are all empty during the day, then you can turn the heating down in these rooms until shortly before you need them. For most people, this will mean going in a turning the radiators or heaters on and off by hand, but you can get more advanced heating control systems that can do this automatically, or from one central controller
Getting the temperature right
If you’re not too cold, try turning your heating system down a notch, and waiting a day to see how it feels. If you’re still not too cold, then try another notch, and so on. When you start to feel a bit too cold, turn it back up one notch and leave it there. This is the temperature setting that will keep you comfortable without wasting energy and money.
Isn’t it cheaper to leave the heating on all day?
Some people say that you shouldn’t turn your heating off when you leave the house. They say it’s cheaper to leave the heating on at a low level all day, rather than having it on at full blast when you’re in, and off when you’re out. It may be true that you would save money by having the heating set lower, but the house will be colder when you’re at home. If you’re happy with your house being a bit colder, then turn the heating down to this level to save money. But you can then turn the heating off altogether when you’re out, and save even more. You can’t save money by leaving the heating on when you’re out. You’ll just end up paying extra for heat that you don’t need.
Draught-proofing your home
Every house needs some ventilation to keep the air fresh and to stop moisture building up. But if the airflow is too much or you can’t control it, then it becomes an uncomfortable draught and a waste of money as all the air you heated up escapes before you get the chance to enjoy it. Windows are a common place for draughts. You can use self-adhesive foam strips for a quick and easy fix, or you can spend a bit more for plastic strips that should last longer. Sash windows needs specialist draught-proofing kits because of the different way they open. If you have a draughty door you can use similar materials to a window, though you may need a brush strip at the bottom. You may also want to ensure you have a letterbox that seals and a keyhole cover. Draughts can also be found around the floor edge and your skirting boards. You can deal with these by squirting silicone-based filler or decorators’ caulk into the gaps. A poorly fitted loft hatch can allow draughts from the roof space. To prevent this, use foam strips, just like when draught-proofing a window. You’ll often find draughts where pipes enter and exit the property. You can fill small gaps around pipework with silicone fillers, similar to the fillers used for skirting board and floorboards. You should fill larger gaps with expanding polyurethane foam.
Is cavity wall insulation right for me?
Fitting cavity wall insulation is one of the most cost-effective home energy improvements you can make, but not every home is suitable. You may not have a cavity to fill, or you may have a cavity that isn’t suitable for insulating. Or maybe you have cavities that can be insulated provided you first carry out some extra work, or if you use a particular insulation material. Find out more about cavity wall insulation and how to check if you have cavity walls or not. Solid walls can also be insulated, either from the outside or inside.
Insulating tanks, pipes and radiators
Water tanks and pipes lose heat quickly, so insulating them will keep them hotter for longer, saving your money and reducing the energy you use. A hot water cylinder jacket cost about £15 and is easy to fit. Pipe insulation consists of a foam tube that covers the exposed pipes between your hot water cylinder and boiler, reducing the amount of heat lost. Radiator reflectors fitted behind radiators on external walls are another low-cost option that reflects the hear back into the room, instead of letting the heat out through the wall.
Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters being rolled out across Great Britain. Smart meters show you how much energy you are using in pounds and pence, in near real time and bring an end to estimated bills. Smart meters will provide you with the information you need to work out whether you are getting the best deal, or if you should switch to a different tariff or supplier. Once the national infrastructure is complete, smart meters will be fully interoperable between suppliers, which will mean quicker and easier switching. Smart meters are paving the way for a smarter, greener and more energy-efficient future. Find out more about smart meters.
Generate your own energy
You can even generate your own heat and electricity to cut your energy bills as well as your carbon footprint. Find out about the types of technology you might want to consider.
What help is available?
Green Homes Grant
You can make your home warmer and your energy bills cheaper with a government Green Homes Grant. Homeowners in England, including landlords, can get up to £5,000 to pay part of the cost of energy saving measures like insulation. Low income households can get 100% of the costs of work covered up to £10,000. Make sure you’re one of the 600,000 households who could save up to £600 a year on energy bills by applying to the scheme. Check if you’re eligible for the Green Homes Grant scheme and see what improvements can be made to your home.
Warm Homes Fund
National Grid and Community Interest Company, Affordable Warmth Solution (AWS) have launched a £150 million Warm Homes Fund (WHF) designed to support local authorities, to address some of the issues affecting fuel poor households. Suffolk councils have been successful in gaining funding to install first time central heating systems (with a boiler and radiators) in fuel poor households which are privately owned or privately rented. Find out more about the Warm Homes Fund and how to check if you’re eligible.
Suffolk Energy Action
Suffolk Energy Action is a service that provides funding and advice for energy efficiency home improvements such as loft and cavity wall insulation and heating improvements. It’s backed by all of Suffolk’s councils and administered by the Suffolk’s Warm Homes Healthy People service, a project designed to help vulnerable people and families make their homes cheaper to heat. The project can provide the following for eligible residents in Suffolk:
- Grants for First Time Central Heating
- Boiler or heater stopped working? Warm Homes Healthy People can lend you electric heaters and point you in the direction of any grant funding available such as assistance in applying for a local authority renovation or home assistance grant.
- Do you own or privately rent your property? Warm Homes Healthy People can arrange for an independent surveyor to visit your home and discuss energy efficiency improvements that could make a real difference to your heating bills.
- The project can also access grants to help pay for insulation and basic draught proofing.
Suffolk Greener Homes % Loan Scheme
The Greener Homes Loan Scheme offers loans of up to £5,000 at 0% APR to help homes cut their energy use. Loans are available for energy saving measures such as insulation, boiler upgrades and renewable energy systems. Loans are only available for the installation of approved materials and technologies by accredited installers. There are two types of loan available. Short term loans (2 to 12 months) of up to £1,000 for smaller improvements such as insulation, and long-term loans (1 to 3 years) of up to £5,000 for more expensive measures such as renewable projects. Find out more about the scheme and which measure are typically supported.
Suffolk Climate and Energy Helpline – 0800 02 88 938
A helpline available to all Suffolk residents, providing free, independent advice and information on ways to save energy at home, and in the community, helping you to save money on your energy bills, and reduce your household carbon footprint.
Paying too much for your energy?
Taking steps to make your home more energy efficient is the first priority, but switching your energy supplier may also save you money – but does it seem like too much effort? A common problem is knowing when to switch. Help is at hand with a free service called Cheap Energy Club being offered by Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert.com that allows you to compare energy deals or use the new and unique auto-compare-and-switch service. Simply select your priorities and the service will pick a tariff that suits you from across the whole of the market, and keep switching you each year to your best deal if you want.
Living in Suffolk and using oil for your heating? Read this Guide to Cheap Heating Oil about how to find the cheapest prices for heating oil produced by ‘MoneySavingExpert.com’.
Do you use wood to heat your home?
Do you have a woodburning stove or are you thinking about woodfuel for heating? Help is at hand to find a sustainable wood fuel supplier for a range of fuel types including firewood, briquettes, pellets and chips.