50 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

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How energy efficient is your home? With energy prices consistently rising, and the impact on the environment of using fossil fuels becoming increasingly apparent, many of us are looking to make our homes as energy efficient as they can possibly be.

With that in mind, we’ve gathered together a mammoth list of tips and advice so that you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

Heating

energy efficientImage Credit: Geoffrey Gallaway

1. Insulate lofts, floors and walls. You may be able to insulate your loft or floors yourself, but walls will require an installer. Though it can mean a fairly large initial cost, you can save hundreds of pounds in your fuel bill every year, so it can work out cheaper in the long run. You also may be eligible to get free insulation from British Gas, and you don’t need to be a customer to claim.

2. Install a water efficient shower head. These devices use less water than a regular shower head, but still offer the feeling of a powerful flow of water. This could reduce your water bill, but also your energy bill, as you won’t need to heat as much water.

3. Insulate your hot water cylinder and hot water pipes. This will mean that once the water has been heated up, it stays hot for longer – and less energy will be required to keep heating the water up.

4. Spend less time in the shower. It can be easy to lose track of time while enjoying a hot shower in the morning, but investing in a shower timer can help to keep things short and sweet. Make it a challenge for the whole family to shower in under four minutes each day – it’ll make the morning queue for the bathroom go more quickly too!

5. Buy or make draught excluders. If you live in an older house, this can be particularly beneficial. Plugging the gap underneath doors and around windows can prevent heat from escaping.

6. Set your thermostat timer. This post from Energy.gov offers lots of useful tips on making the most of your thermostat.

7. Insulate yourself! Invest in quilts and throws to keep you warm, and turn the heating down.

8. Use a smart heating control app so you can manage the temperature of your house when you are out. That way, if you forget to adjust the heating before you go away for a few days, you don’t need to lose money by heating an empty house.

9. Consider replacing your boiler if it is old, or, if the cost of a new boiler is too high, replace the heating controls. This will be cheaper to install, but a more accurate thermostat could save money. You may also be eligible for a free boiler, or free repairs.

10. A room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves could also give you more control over your heating, allowing you to set different temperatures for various areas of your home.

11. Use radiator panels on radiators that are fixed to outside walls. The panels can reflect heat back into the room which may otherwise be lost.

12. If you have a chimney which is not in use, block it with a cap to stop heat from escaping up it. You could also use an inflatable chimney balloon if the chimney is still used occasionally.

Windows

windowsImage Credit: kaktuslampan

13. Install energy efficient windows. Windows can be great at heating the home in that they allow sunlight in, but they can also leak lots of air out. Storm windows can help to prevent this leakage, and an insulated glazing treatment can also help to make existing windows better at keeping heat in. Double and triple glazing can also help to keep homes warm.

14. If you don’t have the budget for new windows, plug up any gaps by caulking or weatherstripping your window frames.

15. Consider tinted windows. Films are available that can reduce heat in summer and help to prevent heat loss in winter, meaning reduced air conditioning and heating bills. The tints also still allow natural daylight into your home, so you won’t need to worry about having to switch the lights on during the day. This may be a particularly good idea for conservatories.

16. Invest in heavy floor-length, thermal-lined curtains for winter, and a blind for summer.

17. Replace window frames. uPVC and aluminium or steel frames are long lasting, while wooden frames need to be well maintained to continue to be energy efficient. Newer frames will form a tighter seal than older ones, and leak less air.

18. Open the curtains during the daytime to allow the sunlight to warm up your living space for free.

Appliances

appliancesImage Credit: Eloïse L

19. Replace old appliances where you can with newer models that offer better energy efficiency.

20. Check the energy rating of appliances before you buy. Which explain how to understand energy efficiency labels in this post.

21. Check the seals on your fridge and freezer and replace them if necessary. A damaged seal could leak air, meaning that the appliance has to work harder to regulate its temperature.

22. For appliances that use water, like dishwashers and washing machines, invest in low flow versions when you need to replace them. You can also install low flow taps.

23. Don’t do half loads. This applies to dishwashers and washing machines – avoid only using half of the space available as much as possible, and wait until you have enough to fill the machine before switching it on.

24. Use detergent that can clean clothes at a cooler temperature.

25. Use the eco-cycle setting on your washing machine and dishwasher where possible to save on both electricity and water.

26. Dry your clothes on a clothes rack or line where possible rather than using the tumble dryer.

27. When using the tumble dryer, make sure that you clean out the lint screen with each use, and regularly clean underneath the lint screen with your vacuum cleaner. Also, check that the vent of your dryer is not blocked. This can improve circulation and save energy.

28. Don’t overfill the kettle – boil only as much water as you need. Also, regularly descale your kettle to make it more energy efficient.

29. Where possible, defrost food in your fridge. The cold temperature of the frozen food will help to cool down your fridge, meaning that it doesn’t have to use as much energy to maintain its temperature.

30. Keep your fridge and freezer filled to around three quarter capacity. As you remove food, use bottles of water to fill up the space.

31. Dust the back of your fridge and freezer around once per year – your vacuum cleaner should do the job nicely. The dust that gathers on the coils at the back of these appliances makes them use more energy.

32. Defrost your freezer regularly to ensure that it doesn’t use unnecessary energy.

33. Place your fridge and freezer away from your cooker and out of direct sunlight if at all possible.

Lighting

lightingImage Credit: Paul Cross

34. Be vigilant with turning off lights when you leave a room. If necessary, put up stickers by the light switch to remind you and your family to turn it off as you leave. The idea that it uses more energy to switch a light on than you’d save by turning it off for a while is a myth. It only takes a few seconds of having a light switched off to save more energy than it would take to turn it on again.

35. Use energy saving bulbs. There are three to choose from – compact fluorescent lamps, LEDs, and halogens. This helpful post from Which goes into further detail.

36. If possible, rearrange your light switches to make it easier to turn them off. Make sure that there are switches at each end of a hallway or stairwell, for instance, and at each doorway into a room.

37. Install a timer for outside lights, or a sensor. That way, you won’t accidentally leave them on all night long.

38. Invest in a few lamps, or install a dimmer switch. This can help you to control the lighting level as needed – and the lower the light, the less energy it will use.

Electronics

electronicsImage Credit: Glenn3095

39. Charge your phone before bed. Though phone chargers only use a small amount of energy to charge your phone overnight, this all adds up – if we all made the change to only have our phones on charge for a couple of hours rather than seven or eight, it would make a difference to our collective carbon footprint.

40. Turn off TVs, games consoles and other electronic devices at night. Leaving devices on standby is convenient, but it can add up to a lot of energy use, especially if you have several devices constantly left on standby. You can purchase devices that will turn your electronics off and back on at certain times each day, or which have one off switch that can control all devices, to make this job easier.

41. Always unplug your laptop charger when it is not in use. To make this easier, you may wish to plug your laptop charger into a designated plugboard that can be completely switched off.

Renewable energy

renewable energyImage Credit: Nicolás Boullosa

There are ways to generate your own energy to run your home. Installing the necessary equipment may be fairly expensive, but it will eventually pay for itself if you plan on staying in the same home for the foreseeable future.

It’s also good news for the environment, and will help to reduce your carbon footprint.

42. Solar panels. These can generate electricity and heat up water. Now is a good time to install solar panels to get around the government’s plans to cut earnings from solar panels – Marcel from Money Saving Expert explains all you need to know here.

43. Wind turbines. You can install wind turbines at home, and either mount them on the roof, or put up a freestanding version. You can then attach the turbine to the national grid and take part in the Feed-in Tariff scheme (which may be changing), or attach it to a battery and use the energy yourself.

44. Heat pumps. There are both air source and ground source heat pumps available, which draw heat from the outside air or from underground to help heat your home.

45. Hydro energy. This can be expensive to install, and it requires a specific kind of site to work – your home needs to be situated close to a stream, which is fast-flowing. However, the reliability and effectiveness of hydro power means that it can be a worthy investment. Yougen offers more information in this post.

46. Micro-CHP. The CHP stands for ‘combined heat and power’, and the idea is that electricity is created as a bi-product of heating your home. It is not a renewable energy, but can help to make the energy that you use go further. It works by harnessing the steam created by your boiler, and using it to create electricity via a Stirling engine.

Misc

washing basketImage Credit: erizof

47. Check to see if you qualify for government incentives. You could claim for quarterly cash payments through the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme – find out more in this post from the Energy Saving Trust.

48. Install a smart meter. This can enable you to monitor your energy use and adapt your energy use if necessary.

49. Invest in a washing up bowl for when you are doing the dishes, or put the plug in the sink. This can cut the costs of heating water, as less water is used. You can also save on water heating by putting the plug in when washing your hands, and turning off the tap as you brush your teeth.

50. Use the Money Saving Expert Cheap Energy Club to receive alerts when you could sign up to a cheaper deal.

Conclusion

We hope that this list has proved useful. If you have any more tips that you’d like to share, please let us know in the comments below – and feel free to share these tips with your friends!

Posted in Homemaking, Lifestyle on 26th Nov 2015

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