Make your home energy efficient before the cold sets in
As the days get shorter and colder, your home energy use will start to creep higher. Now the clocks have gone back but before winter descends, take the time to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible. Not only will it save you money on your rising energy bill and reduce your impact on the environment, but you’ll create a cosier bolthole to escape the worst of the weather.
Here are some simple, but effective measures to start with.
Be smart with your lighting
Darker days mean higher lighting costs - lighting accounts for around 15% of a typical household's energy bills, so there are some big savings to be made, with LEDs up to 10 times more efficient than a conventional or halogen bulb. Now's a good time to look at replacing your inefficient lighting with super-efficient LEDs so you can enjoy the savings all winter long.
Check the boiler
If you have an old boiler, you may approach the cold months with a lingering fear that it will give up the ghost at any moment. So be sure to plan ahead and have your boiler serviced by a qualified engineer.
Or you might consider an upgrade. If you live in a detached house and have an old G rated gas boiler, you could save £445 a year by upgrading to a new A-rated condensing boiler with a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator controls. A straightforward gas boiler replacement, including thermostatic radiator valves, will usually cost around £4,000, so it’s a long-term investment.
Have you got a combi boiler? If you do, you can save money just by lowering your boiler's flow temperature. Most boilers are designed to send water to your radiators at temperatures under 55°C, but they’re often not configured this way. Making this one simple change can help you save up to 8% on your heating bill!
You may have never given your hot water pipes much thought. But it’s important - and easy - to keep them insulated to reduce heat loss. You just need to buy some foam lagging to wrap around pipes, which you can easily fit yourself.
Depending on the size of your house, you’ll probably only need to spend £20 or so on lagging, which you’ll soon make back. Lagging also reduces the chances of pipes getting too cold and bursting.
Draught-proof your house
You want to keep hold of that precious warmth in your home and block its escape. That means draught-proofing windows, doors, floorboards, loft hatches, and any other gaps. The exceptions are rooms like bathrooms that need ventilation.
Hiring a professional to draught-proof your home is likely to cost around £200, but it’s worth the effort as it could save you £20 a year on your energy bill. You’ll create a cosier, more comfortable home too.
Alternatively, if you’ve got most parts of your house draught-proofed, consider any gaps you might have missed. How about fitting keyhole or letterbox covers?
Lovely as it is to sit in front of an open fire, they’re not very energy efficient, as most of the heat just goes straight up the chimney - as much as 90%!
If you’re after a more energy-efficient home that has less of an impact on the environment, then it's best to stick to using your central heating efficiently.
And if that leaves you with an open fireplace that you’re not using, then consider insulating it to prevent too much cold air from coming into your home.
This one is more about forming good habits than making large changes to your home.
Simply open your curtains when the sun is shining - yes, even in winter - to allow in as much warming sunlight as possible. Then close them in the evening. Similarly, close doors to stop draughts.
Your radiators need a bit of annual TLC. Bleed them to ensure that hot water can circulate effectively. You’ll know a radiator needs bleeding if it feels hot at the bottom but cold at the top, takes a long time to warm up or if it’s making gurgling noises.
Also, pull any sofas away from radiators. Otherwise, your sofa will absorb the heat instead of circulating properly!
Control your heat
As it gets colder, you’ll want the heating on more often. But, don’t just whack the thermostat up into the mid-20s. Aim for between 18 and 21 degrees.
Each degree you turn down your central heating thermostat equates to a 10% reduction in gas use. Reduce it by 2 degrees and you could save £200!
To better manage the temperature of your home, consider investing in a smart thermostat or smart radiator valves. They'll enable you to control your heating remotely and target the heat to the rooms you use the most.
Reduce your phantom load
With all the other demands on your home energy in the colder months of the year, you certainly don’t want to waste energy on things you’re not using.
So, tackle your Phantom Load, the energy used by your things left on or on standby. While appliances like fridges and freezers must stay on all the time, in most rooms you'll probably have at least one device that's quietly continuing to drain electricity in the background - whether you're aware of it or not! So have a quick dash around turning things off at the plug - you'll be amazed at how much you could save.
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