Not only does using less electricity and gas save on your utility bills, but you’ll also produce lower levels of harmful CO2.
It’s a good idea to try and cut down on your energy usage at home. Not only does using less electricity and gas save on your utility bills, but you’ll also produce lower levels of harmful CO2. Here are 9 clever ways to help you save on your energy bills you may not have thought of.
Close up your chimney
If you have an open chimney but don’t use the fireplace for burning logs, your energy usage goes literally straight up the chimney. Draughts from an unblocked fireplace can cost you hundreds of pounds every year. So why not block the fireplace with an inflatable chimney balloon or just cap your chimney. As an alternative, you could use a ‘chimney sheep’, made from sheep’s wool which fits snugly in the throat of the chimney. Or you could use a heat saver – a transparent, perspex fireplace shield that seals it when not being used.
Estimated savings per annum: around £153
Buy a halogen oven
A halogen tabletop oven uses 75% less electricity than a conventional cooker. It can roast a chicken in around 25 minutes. The combination of a lower use of power and a much faster cooking time, will result in a substantial reduction in your electricity bill.
Halogen ovens consist of a clear glass bowl with a lid on top that contains halogen bulbs and a high powered fan. This gives you the opportunity to watch your food while it cooks and adjust cooking times as necessary.
The beauty of halogen ovens is that they don’t just save space, they can do everything in one pot that you would normally need an entire oven for – including boiling, roasting, baking and sautéing.
Savings: depending on usage
Install a voltage optimiser
There’s a significant difference between the voltage fed into your home and the amount your appliances need. A standard appliance is fed around 4% more current than it needs, and consumes nearly 10% more energy than necessary.
The technology of a voltage optimiser could save you up to 10% on your electric bills. But beware, it should only be installed by a professional electrician. This device works well with tumble driers, dishwashers, fridges, freezers, washing machines, lights, and televisions. Savings for fridges and freezers can work out at over 16%. The device doesn’t work on ovens, hobs, showers, immersion heaters and heaters,
Estimated savings per annum: between £50 and £135
Cavity wall insulation
Most of us don’t realise that up to 35% of the heat produced in our house is lost when the walls are not insulated. If your house was built after around 1920s, its walls are most probably made of two layers with a gap in the middle. Cavity wall insulation fills that gap, keeping all the warmth on the inside and saving energy.
Filling cavity walls is not a DIY job – you need a professional and registered installer. The job luckily isn’t messy and shouldn’t take more than about 2 hours for an average sized house, and grants of up to £250 are available from most major energy suppliers.
Estimated savings per annum: up to £135
One of the cheapest and most effective ways to save energy is to draught-proof your house. Where it’s practical to do so, seal your doors, windows, loft hatches and any pipework that leads outside. Oh, and don’t forget your letter box, as this can let in cold draughts in windy weather. You can buy a letter box draught excluder, specially made to keep draughts out.
Estimated savings per annum: up to £55
Energy efficient showers and taps
Today’s high-powered showers use nearly as much water in a few minutes as it takes to fill a bathtub. So why not purchase an energy-efficient, or eco shower head that injects air into the water stream to create the feeling of a powerful shower while using only half the amount of water? They’re available from most DIY stores.
Water aerators, or flow restrictors, can also be fitted to taps or, indeed, to the entire system. These devices will help you save on your water bill and on the energy required to heat your water.
Estimated savings per annum: Around £70
Although government subsidies on solar panels continue to fall, so do the costs of installing a solar system. Research reveals that a well-designed 3.8kW solar panel system costing in the region of £6,500, could provide Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) payments of £583 a year, and save you £237 per annum on electricity bills. This means your installation costs would be repaid in just 8 years! And FIT payments continue for 20 years and are index linked and tax-free.
Estimated annual return: £820 – index-linked for 20 years
Lighting accounts for 18% of a typical household’s energy bill. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you replace one traditional light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb of the same brightness you’ll save around £3 a year. More and more people are now fitting LED lights, which use 10% of the energy of a typical light bulb.
Estimated saving per annum: £3 multiplied by the number of light bulbs in your house
As we all know, heat rises, and ¼ of the heat in your home can be lost through an uninsulated roof.
Loft insulation is simple and effective for over 40 years – it’s a no brainer.
If your loft access is straightforward and there are no damp issues in the roof, this is a job an experienced DIYer can carry out.
Rolls of mineral wool insulation are typically laid between and over the joists, or rigid insulation board can be used, with wooden boarding on top if you are using your loft for storage.
Estimated savings per annum: £135 – £240
Mike James, the author of this article, is an independent writer, partnering with
Universal Lighting – a UK-based specialist of quality light fittings since 1970.
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