LIFESTYLE

Keeping Warm

When you consider that the average 3 bedroom house without proper insulation can cost up to £500 per year to heat, it is in your interest to ensure that you take action to remedy this – your heating bills will otherwise quite literally go through the roof! If you take the necessary steps to make your house more energy efficient you can quite realistically halve the costs, maybe saving even more than that by adjusting your lifestyle – it’s in your interests! Nobody ever became rich by allowing unnecessary expenditure to go unchecked, and by becoming a more prudent, ethical householder you can provide yourself with more money in the bank – all it takes is a little care and thought.

Most of us rely on our central heating to keep us warm during the winter months, but many of us do not have energy efficient heating systems. Firstly it is necessary for you to check to make sure that the timer systems in place to control when you want hot radiators or hot water or both are working and are set to specific times when you actually need those functions – having the heating coming on at 12pm while you, your spouse and other family members are not at the house is a total waste of energy and your money! By regulating this use of energy around your house you can save yourself up to 20% on your heating costs, depending on how efficiently you already manage things.

How old is your boiler? You will not be surprised to note that the older your boiler the less effective it is – as a rule of thumb any boiler 15 years or older ought to be replaced. If you switch to an energy-efficient Condensing Boiler you could actually save up to 30% on your fuel bills. If this proves a bit too costly to implement, by switching to a more modern replacement model (more modern than your current boiler) you can still save up to 20%. Additionally some councils are operating schemes whereby if you want to replace your boiler with a more energy-efficient model they will provide you with financial assistance to do so.

Bright Eyes

Lighting is accountable for 10-15% of your electricity bill. You can reduce this amount by adjusting your lighting usage in the ways that follow. Using energy-saving lightbulbs is a good start, and require only 25% of the energy of their similarly luminescent standard counterparts. While energy saving bulbs are slightly more expensive, the benefit to you and the environment in the long-term is too great to be ignored. The government has launched an initiative to phase out the standard lightbulbs by 2011, so with that in mind it is to be hoped that the price of energy saving bulbs will be lowered to make the cost of them so inconsequential as to be not a problem for anyone. For every old bulb you replace for an energy saving bulb you will save up to £10 per year on energy bills.

Household appliances
Generally where household appliances are concerned you may want to live by the rule that as devices get older, their efficiency is lessened, therefore whatever saving you might make on buying a second hand appliance will actually be off-set by the loss you make on higher bills to maintain it. Visit www.energysavingtrust.co.uk to give you a list of certified Energy Efficient appliances to aid your decision-making process.
For more information you might want to check out our specific guides to the different household appliances.

Insulation
Most people are surprised by the necessity for proper insulation in the home. In fact, by making sure that your home is fully insulated, you could reduce the amount of heat lost in your home by up to 50%! Most of this lost heat seeps through the walls and roof due to inadequate insulation. In order to combat this, you will need to do a little spot of checking, firstly by finding out what type of wall you have – houses built post-1930 generally have cavity walls. Cavity walls comprise two layers sandwiching an air pocket, and to fill it, qualified professionals drill two small holes into the outer or inner layer and insulation material is injected into the air gap. This work is guaranteed for 25 years by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, with the cost of the work recoverable within the first five years through savings made on your heating bills. Some councils actually offer schemes where they are willing to pay for this work to be carried out for you!

Insulation of the loft is a lot simpler and can be done by yourself – add a 10-inch thick layer of insulation material across the loft area and this will greatly minimise the amount of heat escaping through the roof.

Buying a water jacket for your water tanks and hot water pipes can also aid in saving you money and loss of energy – if a hot water pipe or water tank is inadequately insulated this can result in up to 75% more energy use in maintaining a constant temperature, so therefore it is in your interests to make sure that this doesn’t happen – you want your bills to be spent on keeping your house warm and not on keeping pipes hidden in the walls warm. Ideally the water jacket for your water tank should be at least 75mm thick to provide good insulation, if this is not the case, pop down to your local DIY store and buy a new one.

Windows
By double-glazing your windows you will be able to reduce heat loss in the home by up to 20% – and although it is an expensive option it should definitely be considered if you are planning on changing/replacing your present window frames. Not only does double/triple glazing prevent heat loss, it can also stop condensation and will reduce noise levels of outside sounds. If double glazing proves too costly, you can go for the cheaper option of secondary glazing which is a lot less expensive than brand new double glazing, can still result in reducing heat loss and saving you money on your annual heating bills.

Home Generation!
No this doesn’t involve Bruce Forsyth. If you are open to all possibilities, you might want to consider having solar panels fitted or buying a small wind generator to power your house – this form of renewable energy means you will drastically change your relationship with energy – no longer will you be reliant on other companies to supply you with the energy you need but you can also sell it on to others! If this option is of interest to you, visit http://www.lowcarbonbuildings.org.uk/home