Fed up with ever increasing energy prices? Well, there are ways to combat the rise by reducing your consumption. Not only will you save money, you’ll help the environment too.
Where to start?
Watch those bills rocket as we reach the winter months. The trick here is to stop heat escaping, which can be done in several ways.
The first is to check the insulation in your loft. It is estimated that 25% of heat is lost through your roof so check that your insulation is up to scratch. The recommended minimum is 270mm, so if it’s below this then it is worth topping up. It’s fairly cheap to do and you don’t need any technical know-how, but it can take a couple of hours depending on how flexible you are and the depth of your roof. There are various types you can buy, just choose which you think will be the most appropriate. You can buy online from places like Amazon or alternatively, just pop down to your local B&Q or Homebase for advice.
Unbelievably, 35% of heat is lost through walls. It is definitely worth checking to see if you have cavity wall insulation. Insulating your cavity walls could save up to £275 a year for a detached house according to the Energy Saving Trust. This article explains how to check if your house is suitable. If you’re not sure you could ask a specialist to visit.
According to Which, insulation will cost anywhere between £330 and £720 dependent on size. However you should see a return for your money within 3-4 years.
Finally, 10% of heat can be lost through doors and windows. This isn’t a huge amount, so thing carefully whether it is cost effective to change all of your glazing if you only have single glazed panes. Draught proofing could be a cheap and easy way of reducing heat loss.
Smart thermostats control your heating. Because of the advancement in technology, they are generally more efficient than standard thermostats and manufacturers claim they can save between 20-40% off your heating bills. Although they will cost you around £200, you should be able to save that amount from your bill within 2-3 years. You can find more about my Nest thermostat here.
It is planned that every household will have a smart meter by 2020. These meters will send your meter readings to your energy supplier digitally. This should give you more accurate bills, and also allow you to track your energy usage. Being able to do this will allow you to see where your energy is being spent or potentially wasted. It will cost you nothing to have a smart meter installed and all you need to do is call your energy supplier and arrange for installation.
Do you remember the old energy saving light bulbs (also known as Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs)? They are the bulbs that you flick the switch and then wonder if it’s actually on. Then after 15 minutes you can finally see. And did you know that because of the mercury inside these light bulbs, special arrangements should be made for their disposal? In short, they’re not great.
What’s the alternative?
Well, try an LED bulb. These are incredibly efficient and prices have come down drastically over the last couple of years. No longer do you have to plan in advance when you may want to see something!
The reason LED bulbs are so efficient is that they lose very little heat. Traditional (or incandescent) light bulbs converted less than 5% of their energy to light. The rest was lost in heat. Because they lose so little heat, it means you can touch LED bulbs after they have been on without losing your skin and swearing. And this is especially ideal if you have a bedroom with a tall bed and a young son who seems more attracted to bulbs than a moth! You know who you are…
What do I look for in LED bulbs?
Lumens. This is a measurement of light output. A standard 40w bulb will produce 440-460 lumens and a 60w bulb 800-850. LED bulbs that produce the equivalent amount of lumens will have an output of around 6-10w.
So if you had 10 (40w) light bulbs in your house and all turned on at once, they would use 400 watts of energy in one hour. The LED equivalent would use just 60 watts.
Now, it’s very difficult to calculate accurate savings as everybody will be on different tariffs and use different amounts of lighting. According to this article though, replacing 10 bulbs could save £239.80 a year!
When this article was written (2014) LED bulbs would set you back £8.99 each. Now you can buy a pack of three for the same price from Amazon.
What about downlights?
It isn’t only standard bulbs you can replace, but also downlights. When I moved into my house, the front room had 20 halogen bulbs, all off one circuit. I was afraid to turn my lights on without sunglasses when I first moved here. In total, it used 700w! But now that have all been changed to LED it uses just 50w – the equivalent to less than two of the original bulbs.
Be warned though downlights aren’t as simple as your normal bayonet or screwcap bulbs. This is a guide to what needs to be done. It’s not particularly complicated but can take a little time if you have halogen lights with pins. Typically my bulbs had pins and I had to swap around 30 throughout my house which took me several hours!
As you can see, these energy saving tips do involve an initial outlay and it can take anywhere between a 1-5 years before you start to see a return for your money. However, you can save a lot of money in the long term and also help the environment.