Thursday, April 8, 2010


Getting ready for renewables: how to reduce energy consumption at home

Before even considering installing renewable energy technologies at home, you must first reduce the amount of energy you use. But the good news is that this can often be done simply and cheaply ­by making a few minor changes around the house. Read on to find out how …
Turning down domestic heating thermostat

Heating and hot water accounts for around 83% of the total energy used in the home. So team a more efficient boiler with a full set of heating controls and you'll spend less heating your hot water. Photograph: Alamy

It's easy to get bamboozled by technology when it comes to making your home more energy efficient. You want to reduce your carbon footprint but is a wind turbine on your roof the answer? Perhaps solar panels? Or will loft insulation and changing the lightbulbs be enough?

Energy use in homes accounts for over a quarter of the UK's carbon footprint. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint it's important to make sure you are using energy as efficiently as possible. Then you can begin to think about getting your energy from cleaner sources.

Fortunately, the first bit is the easiest and cheapest. Britons top the league in Europe when it comes to wasting energy – largely due to insufficient levels of insulation in the walls and roofs of our homes. All that extra energy use sends millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) into the atmosphere. But tackling this problem requires no new technology, just modest DIY and some changes in habit.

Loft insulation

First things first, poke your head up into your loft. Is there at least 270mm of insulation up there? Installing loft insulation is by far one of the easiest way to chop your heating bills, saving around £150 a year in an un-insulated loft and can easily be done yourself at an extremely low cost. Alternatively, an installer will typically be able to fit loft insulation in your home for around £200 , with a pay back period of less than two years.

If there is already some insulation up there, then be sure to top it up to 270mm, you could save around £45 a year on your heating bills.

Wall insulation

Insulating cavity walls is also a good idea - a third of a home's heat is lost through walls. Homes built after 1920 are likely to have external walls made with two layers of bricks with a small gap between them. Filling this with insulation will cost a couple of hundred pounds (though you'll need a professional to do it) and pays for itself within two years.

Solid walls (such as those in Victorian houses) are harder to insulate but it is possible by insulating and rendering the outside of the house or building an internal stud wall and filling the gap between that and the brick wall with insulation. It is more expensive but will reward you with a warmer home.

Draught proofing

Turn to your windows and doors next. Draughts can make a room uncomfortable as heat is lost and cold air comes billowing in. Apply inexpensive plastic or foam strips (available from DIY stores) to window and doorframes to stop the winds. If you have the budget, consider replacing single glazing with modern double-glazed units. As well as keeping the heat in, they will also reduce the noise coming in from the outside.

Heating controls and condensing boilers

Heating and hot water accounts for around 83% of the total energy used in the home. So team a more efficient boiler with a full set of heating controls and you'll spend less heating your hot water. A new A rated gas condensing boiler and heating controls could save you around £235 a year.

A full set of heating controls including a time switch/programmer, room thermostat, hot water tank thermostat (if applicable) and thermostatic radiator valves.

If you already have heating controls make sure you know how to use them, for example setting your heating and hot water to only come on when you need it will cut down on the energy you use. And simply turning your thermostat down by 1oC can cut your heating bills by 10% - saving you around £55 a year.


Lighting is another simple way to cut your energy bills. Energy saving lightbulbs use around a fifth of the energy and last up to 10 times longer than traditional lightbulbs. Each one might save you around £40 in electricity over its lifetime.

When you go out to buy new appliances such as fridges, dishwashers or washing machines, make sure you look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo. It's your guarantee that they are the most energy efficient on the market.


No comments:

Post a Comment