It is generally accepted now that the earth is getting warmer. The debate still rages about whether the rise in average global temperature is part of a natural cycle or is caused by man and his lifestyle. However, whichever side of the climate fence you sit on you have to accept that there are things that we can do to reduce our carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, and slow the process down.
We also have the problem of declining natural resources such as oil, gas, and coal so we have to find alternatives and use what we have wisely.
Did you know that domestic households are responsible for the production of a quarter of all CO2, the greenhouse gas produced when a fossil fuel is burnt? And that on average, of every 35 units of energy that you use in your home, 13 units are actually wasted? With scarce resources forcing the price of energy higher all the time, that’s a lot of money seeping through your walls or loft.
A warmer home is also a healthier one. 30,000 people die from cold related illnesses every year, and over 75% of these are over the age of 75.
At Casey, our business is improving the fabric of a building to raise the quality of housing. But what you don’t always realise is that it’s not just rendering, insulating and lagging that keeps your energy bills down. There are ways that you can change your behaviour costing little or nothing, that will keep your home warmer and your energy bills down – by up to £250 per year.
Low Cost and No Cost Tips
So what can you do?
If you’ve got central heating, turn the thermostat down by one degree. It could cut your heating bill down by 10%. The thermostatic valves on your radiators are another way of cutting costs, as are timers.
Don’t use stand-by. Switch off the TV, dvd recorder, computer and stereo when they are not being used. When on stand-by they are steadily wasting electricity – about 8% of your electricity bill. The same goes for lights.
On washdays, make sure your washing machine has a full load and keep the wash temperature as low as possible. If you can’t wait until there is a full load, use the half load or economy setting.
Air-drying your clothes is cheaper than tumble-drying but if you can’t dry your clothes outside, pick a room where you can have the doors closed so the dampness won’t spread. Keeping a window open slightly will help with ventilation. If you do use a tumbledryer, the vents should lead outside unless you have a condenser fitted.
When using the fridge or freezer, don’t leave the doors open longer than necessary. The motors have to work harder to replace the lost cold. And defrost your freezer regularly to cut down on running costs.
Use the shower rather than the bath if you can. It uses a third of the water.
Keep the hot water thermostat at 60ºC. Any hotter than that and it’s burning your money.
Put the lids on your pans when you are cooking. It will use less energy for the same result, and produce less condensation.
Make sure the size of the pan is correct for the size of the ring on your hob. If you use a gas hob and the flames lick the side of your pan, the heat’s on too high or the pan is too small.
Draw your curtains. They are a great way to keep the heat in. Close them when the sun goes down and open them when it shines. Heavier curtains, or thermal linings, are even better.
Making a brew? Don’t overfill the kettle. If it’s just for one cup, you only need to just cover the element. If you can, use a kettle with a water gauge.
In your kitchen, does your cooker stand next to your fridge or freezer? If so they will be working against each other. If you can’t separate them, try at least to ensure a decent gap or insert a piece of insulation board.
Fit draught excluders to loft hatches, windows, doors, letterboxes and keyholes. Check for gaps under the skirting boards. Well-fitted carpet and underlay can reduce heat loss.
Fit energy efficient light bulbs. Each one could save you up to £70 over the life of the bulb. And some of the newer bulbs do work with dimmer switches.
Make sure you turn the taps off properly. As well as being irritating, a hot tap left to drip all day will fill a bath. That’s a lot of hot water down the drain. Persistent drips can usually be sorted out with a new washer.
Bounce your heat back. Install reflective panels behind your radiators to bounce the heat back into your room and stop it escaping through the walls.
Set your timer so that your heating only comes on when needed. Remember the time it takes to heat up and cool down – set it to come on 30 minutes before you get up and to go off 30 minutes before you leave or go to bed.
Where possible use off-peak electricity, usually between midnight and 7.00am. It costs less than half the normal price but can vary between suppliers. Use timers on appliances like washing machines, water heaters, or use storage heaters.
To monitor your electricity usage, you could get a real time electricity monitor. Some energy suppliers provide them free with certain tariffs, or you can buy them from retailers for £30-£100.
If you are now feeling motivated and keen to take it further there are some serious savings you could make.
Lag your hot water tank if you have one. A well fitted jacket, about 8cm think, for the tank and pipes should do the job.
Insulate your loft and cavity walls. More than 40% of household head is lost here.
Fit extractor fans in the kitchen and bathroom. They are not expensive to run and can make a big difference to condensation and damp problems.
When you are buying new appliances, look for the Energy Efficiency Recommended blue triangle. Those with an A grade are the most efficient. They may be more expensive, but they will give you savings in the long run. Smaller models will use less energy, and think about whether you really need all those features. A “keep warm” function on your kettle can be a waste.
One last thing, consider whether you are on the correct tariff with the right energy provider. It’s not difficult to change your supplier and there are several websites that can help you. It’s probably the easiest way to cut your energy bills. All you need is your last 4 quarterly bills. For more information check www.uswitch.com www.energyhelpline.com or www.ukpower.co.uk
For further information on reducing your carbon footprint, keeping your home warmer and, best of all, keeping your costs down, please visit the following websites: