Top 5 Energy Saving Tips

My Top 5 Tips On How To Save You £££ Off Your Energy Bill

andrew lowe

Before we start, let’s just have a think of how you might spend your Extra £££ ?? Your dream holiday, payment towards a new car, some new clothes, a present for a loved one, the new sofa you have been longing for, the new fire place with a log burner... The list is endless, but what I'm trying to say is these things really work, and when all added up you really can save yourself a LOT of money. It's not being tight, it's just using your brains!! Another thing.....Why should you listen to me ?? Well......I've been in the energy industry for the last 8 years, I'm a qualified surveyor, and I've completed thousands of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC's) at domestic properties, day in day out I see people just wasting their money, this is why I've decided to write this report!

1. Lights

I'm amazed at how many people don't have low energy light bulbs...I'm not talking about the ones that take about 10 minutes to warm up and start emitting some light, I'm talking about LED's (Light Emitting Diode) You can get them now with most fittings, the most common is the GU10 fitting which replaces the very common halogen lights you see in most kitchens and bathrooms. To give you an idea of the savings, if you have 8 x 50 watt halogen lights on for just two hours per day, over the year the led's will save you £40. Now I realise these LED’'s are not cheap, but if you do the math, it's not long before you get all your investment back. You can buy these lights from just about anywhere now, I think if you're paying about £7-£10 per unit **Note:- these are now this price for a pack of 3!!**  you will be getting a decent one. So instead of burning 50 watts per bulb, it's just 5 watts, they don't get red hot like the halogen ones. For those people who have them sunk into the ceiling upstairs in the bathroom and bedrooms, you should have plastic cones fitted to stop the heat transfer onto your insulation!! They mainly come in 3 different types of light....bright light, blue light and warm light. All depends on your taste, the nearest to most halogens would be the warm light. You can also get the LED's with dimming capability but you will pay a little more for these. When replacing just make sure you get the right fitting, I always like to take the old one with me to the shop just to make sure :0)

2. Cavity Wall Insulation. (CWI) (note:- most grants have now stopped for this)

A lot of people don't even know if they have walls that have a cavity. If your house was built before 1950 the chances are you have what's classed as a solid wall, i.e. no cavity, and if there is a cavity it’s too small to fill. The general rule is that the cavity will have to be 40mm minimum to be worth filling. Another way of telling if your wall is solid is by looking at the brick bond, if you can see the 'head' of the brick in some area i.e. the brick laid lengthways towards the house, the other way is to measure the depth of your wall, if your wall is between 200mm - 265mm this again would indicate the wall is solid. If you’re still unsure you can always have your wall bore scoped, where the surveyor will drill holes in your mortar and look with a camera. Houses built after 1950 are generally built with a cavity, and the wall depth will be 275mm - 300mm. There are quite a few exceptions to the rule, like timber framed houses, these are NOT suitable for CWI. So you've had your walls confirmed that there's a cavity and there is no insulation in there.....what do I do next ? The best thing you can do is ring British Gas or N Power because at the moment they will do it for FREE. It’s all about reducing the carbon footprint of the country, and these big firms have been set targets by the government, if they don't comply they get fined Billions!! To put a number on the savings you will make is difficult as it depends on how big your property is, but for your average 2/3 bedroom semi, it’s in the £hundreds per year. I had my house done about 5 years ago now, my house was built in 1987 and should have been done when first built, the problem is; if builders can get away without putting it in....they will do, because it saves them the cost of the material!! My house holds the heat in soooo much better now, so the boiler doesn't come on as often, saving me lots of £££.

So looking at the bonds below, stretcher bond is the most common for a wall with a cavity, if you see any of the others you probably have a solid wall.

                                                               Showing insulation being added         Shows the drill holes filled with cement

3. Loft Insulation

Again, it’s amazing to think that a lot of people don't even know what their loft insulation is like. Just open up the hatch and have a look. Until quite recently it was thought that insulation to joist level (about 75mm-100mm) was enough. This has now been calculated to be 270mm!! Did you know that on average a house will lose up to 26% of its heat through the roof if it's not insulated correctly!! Insulating your loft is the quickest return on your investment bar none....and yes, give the big boys a call and they will come and do it for FREE!! The insulation works by trapping the air and creating a barrier, so don't go slinging your suitcases and Christmas tree on top of it. If you still want your loft for storage space, there are ways round it and keeping your insulation levels to the correct depth. You can buy these little plastic brackets from B & Q, they measure 200mm in height, you screw these to your joists, put the insulation in, screw your boards on top and hey presto a well insulated loft with storage space :0) Some lofts have what's called blown insulation, this is usually when height restrictions are incurred.

4. Boiler & Controls

How many people have a boiler, whatever type that is more than 10 years old!! If you're one of’s costing you money. The new condensing boilers are between 89 - 93% efficient these days, next time you get your boiler serviced ( serviced!! you say) ask the plumber what efficiency your boiler is running at, they should be able to tell you. If you still have a back boiler, you'll be lucky if it’s over 65%. Another important thing with a boiler is how you control the heat, you should have a programmer, thermostat and TRV's (thermostatic radiator valves) again I'm amazed at how many people have no control of their heating, no controls is costing you £££ The basic thing to know about boilers is this, do you want a regular boiler, or a combination boiler. All new boilers now are condensing, a regular boiler you'll still be heating a tank full of water, with the combination boiler you only heat up what you use. There are pro's and con's for both, but generally the combination boiler will save you the most money, modern boilers also come with a remote programmer and thermostat, it's a good idea to have this in the room that you spend most of your time in, many people have their thermostat in the hallway, the front door is opened, big gush of cold air which triggers the boiler......costing you money!!

5. Drought Proofing

 What's the point of heating your house but for it all to disappear through badly fitted windows and doors ? Or even worse, leaving your windows open when the heating is on !! Most houses these days are fitted with UPVC double glazing, however, not all double glazing is equal. If you have a double glazed unit that has 'blown' get it replaced, the glass costs peanuts. If your frames have been fitted poorly, get some mastic and reseal them, stop that heat from getting out. On old glazing the rubber strips are often not good enough to create the seal, you can get replacements and you can also get the drought proofing strips from most DIY stores. If there's a gap under the front or back door, fit a brush trip, put up a thick curtain, get a snake!! you know what I mean, just fill that gap. It’s amazing how much heat is lost through the letterbox and key hole. You can get drought proofing kits for both.....or just leave the key in the door.....I know it sounds silly, but it really works!!

Next steps Of course there are a lot more ways that we can all save energy in our homes, these are just but to name a few of them. We haven't talked about solar and PV panels, pellet burning boilers in rural areas and claiming the RHI (renewable heat incentive). Oil is so expensive to heat your house if you’re not on mains gas, there are lots of different options now. If you do have solid walls you can have external wall insulation fitted, some areas you can get up to 80% of the cost funded. Gas and electric companies are abundant these days, it's worth going on the compare websites and changing your supplier on a regular basis, this will save you about £200 per year. If you would like to book an appointment with me, I can come and do a full survey on your house and talk about the many different options that are available to you, the surveys cost from just £99. You will be issued with a four page document (EPC) which will be valid for 10 years.

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