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✔ We've compiled together our 15 top tips for shrinking your carbon footprint
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By making small changes to your home and how you use energy day-to-day, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint
Whether it’s switching off the lights after you leave a room or seeing how long you can hold out after summer before you turn the heating on, you probably already make a conscious effort to reduce some of your energy usage. But with rising gas and electricity prices and climate change in the spotlight, finding more ways to save energy at home is at the top of everyone’s agenda.
We’ve put together a list of 15 steps to help you reduce your home energy usage. Some are quick and easy hacks like managing your thermostat, while others are longer-term projects that require some investment, such as insulating your roof or upgrading your boiler. With this list you’ll be ready to start making some positive changes to your carbon footprint and your energy bills.
1. Upgrade to Double Glazing
Windows that are poorly insulated can be hugely draining when it comes to losing heat from your home. In fact, up to 40% of your home’s energy can escape through old and inefficient windows. Many homeowners therefore install new double glazing to prevent this from happening. Double glazing works by sandwiching an insulating gap in-between 2 sheets of glass which acts as a blocker against heat loss. It’s estimated that by switching from single glazing to double glazing, you can save up to £110 on your energy bills every year.
2. Insulate Your Walls
Like windows, when walls are poorly insulated they can send your heating bill flying. Many homes over 20 years old were built with 2 walls that had a space or cavity between them. The idea was to prevent rain water from coming through the external wall and into the house. The trouble is that cavity walls aren’t good at keeping the heat in, however, and are likely to be a major cause of energy loss from your home. If your home has cavity walls, filling the gap with an insulating material can improve your home’s heat retention and make it much more energy efficient – installing cavity wall insulation can save you up to a huge £250 a year on your heating.
3. Insulate Your Roof
Around 25% of heat loss from your home occurs through your roof, so it’s a good idea to ensure that it’s properly insulated to prevent any heat from escaping through small cracks or gaps in your loft. Roof insulation will cost around £300 to install, but it will pay for itself within 2 years through the savings you’ll make on your heating bills.
4. Draught-Proof Your Home
Identifying draughts not only saves you money in the long run, but it will also make your home feel much cosier. The common culprits for draughts are things like gappy door and window frames, and the chimney. Once you’ve found the source of cold spots in your home, you can then work on fixing them, whether it be with sealant or a chimney balloon, for example.
Draught-proofing your windows and doors could save you around £25 per year
5. Install Solar Panels
Solar panels are an effective way to make use of the sun’s natural energy source and avoid having to use energy from a electricity provider. A solar hot water system can also help you avoid a hefty gas bill. Obviously the installation costs will be an investment, but the long-term benefits are a lower carbon footprint, lower bills and a rewarding sense of self-sufficiency. From a survey we carried out in January 2018 on 390 UK homeowners with solar panels, a huge 84% said that their solar panels are saving them up to 50% on their energy bills every month.
6. Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Getting savvy about the type of appliances you’re purchasing so they don’t become an energy-zapping burden on your household is a wise idea. You’ll need to keep an eye out for the energy efficiency rating to make sure what you’re buying isn’t going to waste you money over time. All new appliances come with a rainbow sticker that rates the device from A+ to G, with A+ being the most energy efficient. Always choose an appliance with an energy rating of A or A+ to save the most energy – and money.
7. Switch Off Your Appliances at the Mains
A small energy-saving hack you should get into the habit of doing is turning off your appliances at the mains when they’re not being used. Although the TV uses less energy when it’s powered down and sitting in standby, it still uses some electricity – and this can add up if you have several devices on standby at once. On average, UK households waste £30 a year by leaving things in standby mode. To make it easier to turn your electronic appliances off at the mains, use an extension cable with a bank of plug sockets for things like your TV, broadband and games console – and then it’s just a simple flick of the switch.
8. Use Your Washing Machine on the Lowest Temperature
Washing your clothes on a short cycle at 30 degrees can be a quick fix when it comes to simple habits to make your home more energy efficient. It’s estimated that washing at 30 degrees uses around 40% less energy over a year than washing at higher temperatures. Many washing powders are also designed to work effectively at this temperature so you’ll not sacrifice cleanliness for energy! Combine this practice with the tip below and you’ll be really making a difference!
9. Air-Dry Your Clothes
After you’ve washed your clothes on a short cycle at 30 degrees, get out the clothes horse or washing line and hang your clothes out to dry. Tumble dryers use big motors and heaters to dry clothes and unsurprisingly, require a lot of energy to operate. So avoid using all that precious energy and higher bills by using the air around you. It’s free, after all!
Take full advantage of the sun in the summer months and dry your clothes outside
10. Use a Dishwasher to Clean Dirty Plates
It may seem like doing the washing up by hand is more energy efficient but in fact, research shows that dishwashers are more hygienic, and energy-saving than putting the marigolds on. Their highly controlled jets are far more efficient than the human hand, which is where the saving adds up.
11. Change to LED Light Bulbs
You may be using unnecessary energy every time you flick your light switch on. Swapping traditional light bulbs with energy efficient ones will make an impact on how much you consume. While more expensive than normal light bulbs, energy efficient options like LED bulbs use around 25% to 80% less electricity and have a longer lifespan – sometimes up to 25 times longer – meaning you get more bang for your buck.
12. Get a Smart Meter (If You Haven’t Already)
The ability to reduce your energy consumption comes from having an awareness of your usage, and a smart meter can be a good way to stay on track. Energy providers like British Gas supply households with smart meters which display how much energy you are using in real time. Seeing how much you are spending when certain appliances are on is a good way to increase your understanding of where you can make simple changes to your energy consumption. The smart meter will also automatically update your energy readings to the company so your bill is always accurate. It’s a win-win!
13. Install an A-Rated Boiler
Heating your home contributes to around 55% of your annual energy bill, so it makes sense to install a boiler that isn’t going to drain energy. Many new condensing boilers are now A-rated with an energy efficiency score of 90% or more. Although a new A-rated boiler is an investment, the savings you can make on your energy bills (when switching from a G-rated to an A-rated boiler) could be as much as £570 a year.
14. Manage Your Heating
Take control of how you use your heating so that every penny you spend on it goes to good use. For example, if you work all day, set the thermostat so that it only comes on at the times when you’re in. Reducing the room temperature by a degree or so could save you about £75 a year. It all adds up so take the reins and start managing your heating.
Make sure to keep your toes warm, but only when you're at home
15. Only Heat the Rooms you Use
Makes sense doesn’t it? Why heat a room if no one is in it. There’s just no need and it’s a waste of valuable energy. Save yourself some money by turning off the radiators in rooms you don’t need to heat, like the spare room, and only fire them up when you use it. It’s an easy fix!
How to Save Energy at Home: Recap
These 15 steps give you an opportunity to make some small – and some bigger – changes to your home and behaviour so that you can become as energy efficient as possible. By implementing just some of them, you will soon start to notice the positive effect it will have on your energy bills. And importantly, you can be proud of the fact that you are doing your bit to reduce your carbon footprint and promote a more environmentally-conscious way of living.
Here’s a quick reminder of your energy-saving checklist:
- Upgrade to double glazing
- Insulate your walls
- Insulate your roof
- Draught-proof your home
- Install solar panels
- Buy energy efficient appliances
- Switch off your appliances at the mains
- Use your washing machine on the lowest temperature
- Air-dry your clothes
- Use a dishwasher to clean dirty plates
- Change to LED light bulbs
- Get a smart meter (if you haven’t already)
- Install an A-rated boiler
- Manage your heating
- Only heat the rooms you use