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How to reduce energy wastage

The average household in the UK wastes an incredible £250 per year by not being energy efficient.

Insulation and glazing are two key areas where heat loss is greatest:

  • Nearly 50% of all heat lost in the average home is through the loft space and walls.
  • More heat is lost through walls than any other route - approximately 33 per cent in an uninsulated home.
  • Around 20% of the heat in the average home is lost through ventilation and draughts,
  • Around 20% of heat lost from a home is through poorly insulated window frames and single glazing.

Energy efficiency applies as much to older homes as it does to new homes. From next year it will be as important to update the energy efficiency of your old home, as it will be to ensure your new house conforms to Building Regulations on energy saving.

The advantage of a new build is that every measure can be taken to improve the energy efficiency of the house. One energy efficient homeowner Rob Ralph, from Herefordshire, said “Most homeowners think it is far more expensive to do an environmentally friendly build than a conventional one – they are wrong. The basics – correct north:south orientation of the house, with larger windows on the south side and the smallest possible windows on the north, extra insulation and good glazing - require planning and thought, but not too much more money.”

The new ‘Part L’ Building Regulations are expected to require enhanced insulation – from lofts, to cavity walls to double glazing, as well as require that all new and replacement boilers are condensing boilers.

However, grants and offers will be available from the government, energy suppliers and local council to ease the cost of those improving heating and installing energy efficiency measures. This covers items such as loft insulation and solar panels. Contact the Energy Saving Trust for more details (www.saveenergy.co.uk).

There are many simple ways of improving the energy efficiency of your home. Here are some tips.

Walls, roofs windows and doors

  • Cavity wall insulation is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency measures you can take in your home. By installing cavity wall insulation you can reduce heat loss through the wall by around 60% and reduce heating bills by £100 - £120.
  • Simply by insulating your loft to the recommended depth of 270mm (10 inches), you can save over a third of your heating costs.
  • Installing double glazing can reduce heat loss through windows by half. If you can't afford to replace all your windows, choose the rooms that cost the most to heat.
  • Most houses lose 25% of their heat through the windows . Installing low-emission glass (Low-E) allows the sun's heat and light to pass through the glass into the building, but blocks heat from leaving the room, thereby considerably reducing heat loss.
  • Invest in draught excluders for doors, windows and letterboxes opening onto the outside. Close curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping.

Heating and hot water

  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems are simply panels fitted to roofs which convert natural light into electricity. They can save households up to half of their annual electricity needs, representing an average saving of £100 a year on electricity bills. There are grants available to install these.
  • Solar hot water panels, fitted onto the roof, can provide 60% - 70% of a home’s annual hot water needs. There are grants available to install these.
  • Heating and hot water account for about 60% of the average fuel bill. If your boiler is older than 15 years, it should be replaced. By installing a high efficiency condensing boiler, you will save around a third on your bills.
  • By upgrading your heating controls and timers, you will improve the efficiency of any central heating system and cut your energy wastage and costs by up to 17%.
  • An insulating jacket for a hot water tank will keep water hot for longer and can reduce heat loss by up to 75% - a cash saving of up to £15 per year.
  • Insulating hot water pipes will reduce your fuel bills by £5 a year.
  • Reducing your heating thermostat by 1 degree Centigrade can cut 10% off bills.
  • Setting the hot water thermostat at 60 degrees Centigrade or 140 degrees Fahrenheit reduces wastage.

Lighting

  • Lighting accounts for 10 to 15% of the electricity bill.
  • Buying energy efficient lightbulbs rather than the alternatives, can cut wastage by over three quarters – that’s a saving of up to £7 a year for a typical 100W bulb.

Appliances

  • Try to buy ‘Energy Efficiency’ recommended appliances. An energy efficienct washing machine uses 30% - 40% less energy than an older model.
  • Using a 40C cycle rather than 60C means you use a third less electricity.
  • An energy efficient fridge freezer uses nearly a third of the energy of a 10-year-old appliance – that’s a saving of up to £35 per year.

Also see: Partner Directory.