With gas and electricity prices consistently increasing, energy efficiency and adopting a greener approach is high on many people’s agenda in the UK.
Of course, optimising your tariff can make a big difference to utility bills, but using your supply efficiently also reduces your carbon footprint and saves you money. Overall energy efficiency improves your home’s eco credentials, and Franck Energy helps to achieve this further by matching homeowners with renewable technology and managing the installation process.
If you’re looking to make small but impactful changes, here are 17 useful ideas for maximising your home’s energy efficiency.
Investing in double glazing can be fairly costly, but essential. This is especially important if you’re in an older property with the original single-glazed windows. These can be a massive source of heat loss. If the initial outlay puts you off, look into magnetic secondary glazing. This isn’t aesthetically great, but is less expensive and has a solid impact on thermal efficiency.
If you haven’t already, it might be time to change your traditional incandescent light bulbs for low energy LED ones. Not only do they use up to 80% less energy, they also last much longer. Equally, turning lights off when you leave rooms significantly reduces wasted electricity.
Loft insulation is one of the more traditional methods of making your home more energy efficient. If you already have some, you might be able to add more. The recommended depth for loft insulation these days is between 25-27cm, when previously it has been as low as 10cm. Ideally, this insulation will be an eco-friendly and natural product, such as wool.
Don’t place large items of furniture in front of radiators, as this will block the flow of warm air around the room. If your radiator is below a window, keep your curtains shorter so the heat doesn’t go outside. Fit a reflective foil - available from most DIY stores - behind the radiators to direct the heat into the room, rather than into the walls.
When cooking on your hob, match your pan to the size of burner or ring. Putting a small pan on the biggest burner is just wasting energy. Put lids on your pans when you’re cooking - it’ll reduce your cooking times and therefore your energy usage too. Win-win!
Hanging heavy curtains can make a big difference to your home’s heat retention. Most retailers offer thermal blackout and interlinings on made to order window treatments, and you can often buy attachable thermal blackout linings to add to your existing curtains. Maximise any natural thermal gain you can - open the curtains in the day, to let the sun warm your rooms, and close them in the evening when the temperature drops to keep the warmth inside overnight.
Get a wireless thermostat and fit it away from any direct sources of heat and draughty external openings. This will provide it with the most constant heat reading for your home, meaning it will know when to kick the boiler into gear. Around 19°C is the average ‘comfortable’ temperature for a room in the UK, but even reducing this by 1°C, if you regularly feel too warm, can make a big difference to your heating bill.
Pay attention to how much water you’re boiling for every cuppa. There’s minimal difference between boiling an electric kettle and boiling a pan of water on a gas hob, but either way, boil only the amount you need. If using an electric kettle, make sure to descale it on a regular basis to avoid any excess energy usage.
Most washing machines have an eco setting, and it’s well worth using it. Give it a go on items which aren’t too dirty to make sure you’re happy with the quality of the washing, but these days, washing powders are made to be used at lower temperatures, so 30°C should be plenty. When buying appliances, look for the A Grade energy rating.
Cavity wall insulation is a retrospective treatment to improve your home. It’s not suitable for every house, and can cause issues with damp if not installed correctly. Worth getting a professional opinion.
Be mindful of your water usage, especially if you’re on a water meter. Having showers, not baths, saves a significant amount of water. Turning the tap off between rinses when you’re brushing your teeth, and filling the sink to do your washing up ( rather than leaving the tap running) will also make a difference. On another watery note - get any dripping taps or leaky basins fixed ASAP!
Limit using a tumble dryer as much as possible. Furthermore, a clothesline in the summer will often mean you don’t have to iron the clothes - a double saving. Clean the lint filter in your dryer every couple of uses to ensure it’s working efficiently.
Plan your meals for the week ahead. If you know that a Sunday will results in your oven being on for a few hours, use this opportunity to cook other meals at the same time - stew or lasagne can be easily cooked ahead of time, frozen into portions and reheated quicker as required.
Get into the habit of taking plugs out of sockets when you’ve finished using them. Keeping things plugged in on standby also uses a some energy. If you’re going away, remember to unplug everything.
“Jumpers are cheaper than heaters” is an easy mantra to remember when considering whether to crank the heating up. If you have hard flooring, wear slippers to stave off the cold, and remember to check what you’re wearing before resorting to central heating. If you’re in a t-shirt and shorts, it’s likely that 19°C won’t feel too cosy.
Give your fridge and freezer some attention. Repair broken seals and hoover the coils at the back (if you can get to them) to keep it in good, shape. Ensure all food is cool before putting it in, so the appliance doesn’t have to use more energy to cool everything back down again.
Maybe the biggest way you can improve your home’s eco credentials is to adopt a renewable energy source, in combination with good insulation and greener habits. If your boiler is on it’s last legs, look at green technologies such as ground or air source heat pumps, or a biomass boiler. If you have a big enough garden, or a south-facing roof (although not limited to this), you could also look at solar panels.
Renewable energy solutions are encouraged by incentives and government subsidies.