Ten steps to improve energy efficiency at home

Checking your home is as energy-efficient as possible could help keep those winter fuel costs down.

Cat relaxing on a radiator in a house

Taking just a few simple measures, such as turning your heating down, or switching to a lower washing machine setting, can have a significant effect on annual bills and the sooner you start making changes, the greater the savings will be.

Here are our 10 top ways for you to bring down your bills and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

1. Insulate your loft

Poorly insulated roofs and walls can be a major cause of energy wastage. But with decent loft insulation, you could save between £120 and £225 a year, depending on the type of property you have and where you live, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

2. Upgrade your boiler

Did you know inefficient boilers could be adding a few hundred pounds to your energy bills? That means that upgrading yours could be a great way to cut what you pay in the long term.

It’s also a great way to dramatically reduce your home’s carbon emissions – boilers account for 60% of the carbon dioxide emissions in a gas heated home.

Boilers are rated on a scale of A to G, with A being the most energy efficient. If yours is at the lower end of the scale then investing in a new one could save you a packet over the long-term.

3. Hang thick curtains and insulate your doors

Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best. Hanging thicker curtains over windows will prevent heat escaping and make your home much more snug, especially once the nights become longer.

You can also buy cheap stick-on insulation to run down the sides of drafty doors – it will all add up to a warmer home and lower bills.

4. Watch your energy consumption

Do you know how much energy you waste? Investing in an energy monitor will help you to find out. They cost around £25 to £40 but some gas and electricity companies give them to customers for free.

Put it somewhere your whole family can see it, like the kitchen. Some of these handy gadgets work out how much your energy use is costing, so that’s a really good reminder to cut back.

You can find out more about energy monitors in our guide.

5. Switch to a cheaper energy tariff

One of the easiest ways to save on your energy bills is to find the cheapest energy deal for you – after all, you could use the savings to invest in making your home more energy efficient.

Our Energy Monitor allows you to sign up for alerts and tell us how much you’d like to save on your energy bills. We’ll then keep an eye on prices and let you know when to switch tariffs.

6. Use a water-saving showerhead

Baths can waste a lot of water and so a shower is usually a greener option, but just how green is your daily wash?

If you spend 20 minutes soaping yourself under a torrent of scalding water then you’re probably using more energy than you think. Some power showers use more water in five minutes than a whole bath.

By fitting a water saving showerhead, you’ll cut back on the amount of water and energy you use.

7. Fit double glazing

If you don’t yet have double glazing fitted, you could be surprised at the difference it can make to your annual energy bills.

Your initial investment will be fairly high but double-glazed windows will trap more heat inside your home, meaning they will save you money in the long term.

Double glazing is available in a variety of styles, so it doesn’t have to ruin the look of your home. When you are choosing your windows, look out for the ‘Energy Saving Trust recommended’ logo as this seal of approval is only given to the more efficient windows.

8. Invest in an eco kettle

Do you boil a whole kettleful of water each time you fancy one cup of tea? Kettles are incredibly wasteful but you can save on energy by only heating what you need and investing in an environmentally friendly alternative. Some eco kettles use as much as 30% less power.

In fact, it’s not just eco kettles that can help you save. Choosing appliances like TVs and fridges based on their energy efficiency can make a big difference.

9. Consider solar panels

Solar panels enable you to generate some of your own heat or power so you’ll save money on your bills. Previously, you could even sell energy back to the National Grid with a feed-in tariff, but this scheme closed to new applicants on 31 March 2019 (anyone who has had solar panels installed before this date will still benefit).

However, the government is introducing a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) that means most suppliers will need to pay you for your exported excess electricity. This won’t start until January 2020, but some companies, such as Octopus, are already offering SEG tariffs to customers.

Northern Irish customers can already get paid for any surplus power they export.

Some solar panels warm the water in your tanks by a small amount, reducing your overall bills.

But those with photovoltaic (PV) cells actually generate energy and the Energy Saving Trust thinks the average home can provide 40% of its power this way.

The average PV system costs between £5,000 and £8,000, so it’s a big initial outlay, although it depends on the amount you want to generate and the space you have for the panels.

But the good news is solar panels work even when it’s cloudy, so don’t let the UK weather put you off. It’s also sensible to set appliances such as washing machines to run when it’s lightest outside to get maximum benefit.

10. Insulate your cavity walls

Uninsulated walls are another big cause of the heat lost in your home. Filling cavity walls could save you between £70 and £255 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

However, a job like this doesn’t come cheap – cavity wall insulation costs from £330 upwards depending on the size of your property – but some energy suppliers will offer funding if you’re on certain benefits. Give yours a ring to find out.

Changing habits

Taking small steps such as remembering to switch off lights or TVs does make some difference, so don’t give up on changing habits like this. If everyone makes the effort then it will have a larger impact.

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