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Energy saving tips

Draught proofing & insulation

insulation

A quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home. By fitting insulation this could save more than £200 per year.

The recommended depth of blanket style insulation (glass or mineral wool) for a loft is 270 mm. If you already have insulation, but it was put in some time ago, it is worth checking the depth, as only a few years ago the recommended depth of insulation was 200mm, and before that it was as little as 100mm.

Insulating your loft, attic or flat roof is a simple and effective way to reduce heat loss and reduce your heating bills. Loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years and it should pay for itself many times over.

If your loft is easy to access and has no damp or condensation problems it should be easy to insulate. It is possible to do it yourself.

If access is easy and your loft joists are regular, you can use rolls of mineral wool insulation. The first layer is laid between the joists – the horizontal beams that make up the floor of the loft – then another layer is laid at right angles to cover the joists and make the insulation up to the required depth. This can be done by someone competent in DIY or a professional installer.

Make sure you don't squash the mineral wool when you fit the boards on top as this this will reduce its insulation value.  In all cases adequate ventilation should be maintained to the rafters.

Pipes, water tank and loft hatch

Insulating between the joists of your loft will keep your house warmer but make the roof space above colder. This means pipes and water tanks in the loft space could be more likely to freeze, so you will need to insulate them. If your water tank is some distance from the loft hatch, you will also need something to walk on for safe access.

The cooler air in your insulated loft could mean that cold draughts come through the loft hatch. To prevent this fit an insulated loft hatch and put strips of draught-excluding material around the hatch edges.

Thermal Imaging

Thermal infrared cameras and inspections can be useful to work out where cold spots are in our homes and where to focus efforts.

thermal image of attic loft hatch

The loft hatch looks fine visually, but with a thermal imaging camera tells us that the attic is insulated, but the attic hatch itself isn’t and there is a draft around the panel. 

The thermal image and its colours tell us a lot. 

  • The red colour means the ceiling is warm and the insulation is keeping the heat in the room. 
  • The purple, blue and green areas means the ceiling is colder, which means there is a lack of insulation and draughts around the hatch.

These issues can be solved by fitting a draught strip around frame to hatch, and fitting insulation on the hatch, which keeps the heat in the house for longer, saving you money.

Fit a hot water tank jacket

Save over £50 per year by insulating your hot water tank, which would pay for cost of the jacket in less than three months, and even if topping up 20mm tank insulation, payback is less than a year.

Simply fitting a jacket  to your hot water tank which you can find in DIY shops and cost less than £20 and you can fit yourself, means your hot water stays hot for longer saving you money from the start.

Modern tanks usually have insulation already fitted, old ones may simply be bare copper as you can see above L.  You can also fit a “jacket” to a modern hot water tank, as a top up, every little helps.

Tip: Ensure hot water tanks and pipes are insulated to minimise losses.

hot water tank jacket

Understand your bill

The information on a typical energy bill can be confusing. But understanding it can go a long way to helping you get to grips with your energy use.

This youtube clip from Energy Saving Trust - Home Energy Scotland is very helpful.

Switch off standby

Don't leave appliances on standby unnecessarily, such as TV's, stereos, DVD players, game consoles, cookers and microwaves. Leaving items on charge such as mobile phones, laptops or tablets can add to your energy cost.

Almost all electrical and electronic appliances can be turned off at the plug without upsetting their programming. You may want to think about getting a standby saver which allows you to turn all your appliances off standby in one go.

Check the instructions for any appliances you aren’t sure about. Some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in so they can keep track of any programmes you want to record.

Use kitchen appliances more carefully

You can save money on your energy bill just by using your kitchen appliances more carefully:

  • Only fill the kettle with the amount of water that you need and save around £7 a year.
  • When replacing appliances, especially large appliances like fridges and washing machines, look for the ones displaying the Energy Saving recommended logo.

Energy saving appliances use less energy and could save you up to £45 a year in your home.

Get a smart showerhead

If you’ve got a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than an electric shower), fit a water efficient shower head. This will reduce your hot water usage while retaining the sensation of a powerful shower.

Spend less time in the shower

Spending one minute less in the shower each day will save up to £7 off your energy bills each year, per person.

With a water meter this could save a further £12 off annual water and sewerage bills. If everyone in a four person family did this it would lead to a total saving of £80 a year.

Take control of your heating

More than half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water.

Time spent setting your system to serve your needs without waste is well spent and can help you reduce your fuel bills. Even turning down your heating thermostat by 1oC could cut your heating bills by up to 10%. 

Installing a room thermostat, a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves and using these controls efficiently can save you over £100 a year.

Whatever the age of your boiler the right controls will let you:

  • heat set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need them
  • only the areas of your home that need heating
  • set the temperature for each area of your home.

Get savvy with smart controls

Smart heating controls are the latest innovation to help you control your heating and understand your energy use.

They allow you to control your heating remotely via a mobile app, meaning that you can manage the temperature of your home from wherever you are, at whatever time of day.

Switch to LEDs

You can now get LED spotlights that are bright enough to replace halogens, as well as regular energy saving bulbs (‘compact fluorescent lamps’ or CFLs). They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings.  LED options can use ten times less energy for the same amount of light as the old spotlights, and last a lot longer.

By replacing all bulbs in your home with LED alternatives, you could save about £35 a year on your electricity bills,

Fitting energy saving light bulbs has always been a bright idea – for your pocket and the environment and this is something anyone could do.  They are available from DIY stores.

Lighting accounts for 15 per cent of a typical household’s electricity bill.

Replacing a traditional light bulb with an LED of the same brightness will save you about £3 to £6 per year per light.

They use up to 80% less electricity than a standard bulb, and LED options can use even less electricity, but produce the same amount of light.  Their costs have come right down in recent years, and because they last so long, they can pay for themselves in a few months, meaning they earn you money from their savings very quickly.  Eg if they pay for themselves in 6 months, they cover their cost twice over in one year, earning you effectively 200% if it was a savings account, which will go on saving you money every year – maybe this is better than investment than you would get in a savings account.

Turn off lights

Turn your lights off when you're not using them. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again, regardless of the type of light. This will save you over £10 on your annual energy bills.

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