We’re all looking for ways to make our homes energy efficient and save money with reduced bills – and do our bit to help save the planet. You may have heard all sorts of tips on how to make your home more energy efficient – but we have focused on the ideas that can make a real difference.
Some of these energy saving tips require a greater initial investment than others, but they all tend to make your money back in reduced bills.
We have also taken a look at some popular energy efficiency myths, to help you separate the fact from the fiction.
1. Switch to a more efficient boiler
Boilers are one of the biggest factors when it comes to the energy efficiency of your home.
Boilers are ranked on an energy efficiency scale, which makes it easy to know how efficient yours is. The scale runs from A (most energy efficient) to G (least efficient). Find out how efficient your boiler is, and if it is not particularly efficient then you should consider upgrading to a better one.
The cost of a boiler upgrade tends to save you a considerable amount of money in energy bills.
2. Install double glazing
As with many energy saving ideas, an initial investment is required to make a long-term positive change. Double glazing falls into this category.
Double glazed windows are able to trap a higher percentage of heat within the home. This has a real positive effect as it keeps the home warmer for longer, and so allows you to spend less on heating.
Keep an eye out for the ‘Energy Saving Trust recommended’ logo when choosing someone to install double glazing in your home. This demonstrates that they use energy saving materials.
3. Hang thick curtains
Hanging thick curtains over windows helps to keep your home insulated, and stops heat from escaping out of windows. This is a simple and inexpensive solution that will keep your home more energy efficient.
4. Invest in loft insulation
Many lofts are poorly insulated, which allows heat to escape. Investing in loft insulation can make a massive difference to your home’s energy efficiency.
The Energy Saving Trust suggests it can also save you around £200 per year in energy saved! This presents good value, considering it normally costs no more than £400 to get it installed.
5. Buy an eco shower head
It’s common knowledge that baths are not an efficient use of heat and water. Showers are better – but there can still be a yawning difference between the energy use of a power shower and one with an energy-saving shower head.
These Eco shower heads work by ‘pulsating’ the water, which reduces the flow rate while still delivering a pleasant showering experience.
If you're thinking about making adaptations to the bathroom in order to be more energy efficient, it might also be a good time to make your bathroom safer.
6. Find and fix any draughts
Draught-proofing your home could save you between £25 and £50 a year, which might not sound like much, but can make a big difference if you are on a limited budget.
If you can feel a draught in your home, there are several places it could be coming from:
If you have double glazing, you shouldn’t feel any draughts coming through your windows, as they’re seal units that are designed to keep heat and energy inside your house. A sign that the unit isn’t sealed is if condensation or mist builds up in between the two panes of glass. In that case, you need to get them seen to immediately, or look at getting replacement windows.
For windows that open, it could be that the locking mechanism is broken. A window that doesn’t close properly is a prime spot for draughts to creep in. Strip insulation can help, but it might be worth fixing the problem at its source.
Older, single-glazed windows are also increasingly likely to let in draughts as they age, as are wooden frames, as they can rot or warp, which then lets in cold air.
Most modern external doors should be pretty good at stopping draughts, but older doors can be problematic. There are a few main sections of your door that can let in draughts, like keyholes, letterboxes, gaps at the bottom and around the edges.
You can buy purpose-made covers for keyholes, flaps and brushes for your letterbox that are reasonably cheap and easy to fit. For any gaps, you can buy brushes, draught excluders or special strips that fit around the edges. Internal doors often have larger gaps—particularly at the bottom—so draught excluders are likely the best option.
That big gap at the top of your house can be a real problem if not dealt with properly! The hot air in your house rises and can escape into the loft if not sealed. Using strip insulation can help with this, as can ensuring your loft hatch doesn’t have any gaping holes in it.
Chimneys and Fireplaces
We’re only talking about unused chimneys and fireplaces here – obviously if you still use your chimney, then you absolutely don’t want to block it off!
Older chimneys can let in a lot of air (as you will often hear), but there are a few easy ways to prevent this. You can fit a cap on top of your chimney, or get special chimney draught excluders that also do the job. If you really want to stop the draughts, then you could consider filling your fireplace, though this is a much costlier job.
You may find that draughts are coming in through vents in your house. If these are unused vents, such as those following old gas fires or central heating boilers that have been taken out, then these can be blocked up using a vent cover or filled using polyurethane foam.
However, you don’t want to block up vents that are in use. For example, extractor fans in the bathroom or kitchen will help reduce moisture build-up, airbricks help keep wooden floors and beams dry, and trickle vents are often used in modern windows to allow fresh air into a room.
7. Change your kettle
If you tend to make a lot of hot drinks throughout the day then this could be taking its toll on your energy bill.
You might want to consider buying an eco kettle. Eco kettles use considerably less energy to boil – without taking more time. This makes them a great solution for both your energy efficiency and your cravings for a cuppa! There are a number of energy efficient kettles available from Currys.
Another top energy energy saving tip is to only fill up the kettle with as much water as you need for the drinks you’re making. You waste energy when you boil a full kettle’s worth every time.
8. Invest in solar panels
If you’re able to invest a bit more, purchasing solar panels for your home can certainly help you to become more energy efficient – and should make you money in the long-run.
Solar panels work by creating a flow of activity when light shines on the solar cells on the panels. Space is a key consideration. Generally speaking, between 10 and 20 square metres of roof area should be able to produce between 25% and 45% of a typical home’s energy requirements. This is a large percentage of your energy use that will be from a renewable source!
Estimates from The Eco Experts suggest that installation of solar panels costs, for the average household, £5,940. This will be affected by how much space you are covering with solar panels. Depending on where you live, you could be able to save up to £330 a day.
Equity Release can help to fund home improvements. Use our free Equity Release Calculator, which requires no personal details, to find out how much you might be able to release.
9. Install a ground source heat pump
Ground source heat pumps can help to make your home more energy efficient. Pipes buried in your garden can extract heat trapped in the ground. You can then circulate this heat to to heat your water, radiators, underfloor or warm air heating.
In terms of energy efficiency, it must be noted that heat pumps do require some electricity to run, however the heat they that are extracting is all renewable energy.
Installing a ground source heat pump system usually costs between £10,000 and £20,000. Running costs, ans well as how much you will be able to save each year, are both very dependent on the size of your home and level of insulation it already has.
With the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, you might be able to receive some funding to support you in installing a ground source heat pump.
Home Energy Efficiency Myths Busted
You may have heard of all sorts of ideas for making your home energy efficient. Some of them may sound more believable than others!
We put a number of popular energy efficiency suggestions to an expertfrom Anglian and asked them to say whether they are true or not.
Electricity is cheaper at night
Many people think running appliances at night is cheaper due to demand being considerably lower than it is throughout the day. There is, in fact, a glimmer of truth in this tip, but for most people, it really won’t make a difference.
If you’re on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, your electricity provider will charge you according to demand. With less people active at night, it actually is cheaper to do your washing later in the evening. However, every other tariff is charged equally no matter the time of day.
Verdict: Partly true
Turning up the thermostat will heat up your home quicker
It’s a common misconception that cranking up the temperature will make a room heat up faster.
Of course, the higher the temperature, the warmer the room will eventually become, but a higher temperature will not increase the speed at which heat is distributed. No matter what, it will take the same amount of time to heat the same room. The only way to speed up this process is to improve your home’s insulation.
Painting radiators black makes them more efficient
Darker objects are known for being better at absorbing—and then emitting—heat. With science behind this, many people assume painting a radiator black will increase its efficiency.
This would be true if radiators actually transferred most of their heat through radiation. However, despite their misleading name, radiators transfer heat through convection, which means their heat is transmitted by a mass motion of fluids. Colour has nothing to do with it.
Placing tinfoil behind a radiator can conserve heat
With its reflective properties, tinfoil that’s placed behind a radiator can conserve heat. Specialised radiator foil can be purchased, but ordinary tinfoil works just as well.
Heat often escapes at the back of a radiator, and is then lost in the wall. Placing tinfoil here prevents this, as it forces heat back into the room.
Electricity can still be consumed even when devices aren’t in use
We all know that we shouldn’t leave the TV on standby when we aren’t watching it, but many of us think that not using the microwave or pressing the off button on our washing machine is enough to stop energy from being used.
Often referred to as a vampire power, energy can still be drained by appliances when they’re turned “off” or not in use. Even when a device is completely detached from the power source—for example, disconnecting a phone from a phone charger—power can still be drained by the charger.
Solar panels don’t produce energy on a cloudy day
If you’re considering installing solar panels in your home, you might have heard the rumour that they can’t generate energy on a cloudy day. If this was the case, it’s safe to say they wouldn’t be very useful with our gloomy British weather!
Solar panels are most effective when the sun is shining, but they’re still able to produce energy on a cloudy or rainy day. Sunlight can still reach the panels, and particular models are designed to absorb a broader range of light such as UV and infrared light, which are present on cloudy days.
It’s better to leave the lights on rather than turn them on and off continuously
A myth that seems to circulate to this day, many people believe that it’s better to leave a light on if you’re leaving a room for a short period of time rather than switch it off and on again. People assume that a surge of energy is required to turn on lights, making it more cost-effective to simply leave them on.
All of this is completely false, as no additional energy surge is required. So there’s really no excuse – don’t forget to switch off the lights whenever you’re not in the room!