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There are many benefits including cheaper energy bills, warmer homes and reducing the effects of climate change. Rooms will warm up more quickly and the risk of mould forming condensation will also be reduced, benefiting some allergy sufferers and some chest complaints. Having cavity wall insulation may also increase the resale value of the property as you will get a better Energy Performance Certificate score than a similar house without loft and cavity wall insulation.
All installers on this scheme are approved by your local authority in Greater Manchester and are subject to regular monitoring for the quality of their work as well as customer service standards. They are also members of the National Insulation Association. Should you have any problems, you should first approach the installer as it’s their responsibility to resolve any issues, but if they do not meet your expectations, please do call the free phone advice line number 0800 009 3363 and let us know – we value your feedback.
A cavity wall means that the wall itself is constructed from two layers of brick (or one layer of brick and one of blocks) with an air gap or ‘cavity’ between them. The inner and outer walls are held together with ‘wall ties’ which bridge the air gap and hold the outer and inner skins together. To reduce the heat lost through the wall it is now common practice to blow insulating material into the cavity between the inner and outer walls.
The two most commonly used types of cavity wall insulation are:
Mineral Wool Fibre: water repellent and made from either molten rock spun out like candy floss or glass fibre, similar to that used for insulating lofts, chopped up and blown into to the cavity. Both of these types of mineral wool are know by different trade names but for insulation purposes they behave in the same way and have very similar insulating qualities.
Polystyrene Beads: similar to the beans found in bean bags but these have an adhesive applied when installed into the cavity to stop them being disturbed if any later work is carried out on the property, such as replacing doors and windows.
A qualified cavity wall insulation installer will be able to advise which type is suitable for your home.
Modern cavity wall insulation is estimated to have a lifetime of around 40 years and comes with a 25-year independent (CIGA) guarantee.
Generally all traditionally built masonry (brick and/or block) cavity walls can be insulated but the width of the cavity must be at least 50mm (2in). Mortar or any other material blocking must be removed and any defects on the outer skin must be repaired before the cavity is filled. The height of the wall, and its exposure to the elements, will determine the type of insulation that should be used.
In some cases, if the walls have been treated with a chemical to eliminate ‘rising damp’ it may not be possible to insulate the cavity because of a possible chemical reaction. In addition, timber frame walls cannot be insulated even if they have a cavity. This is due to the slight risk of condensation or other moisture within the cavity affecting the timber frame.
For the most part, houses built before the 1920s have solid walls constructed of brick or stone. After that time most houses were built with cavity walls. It is not always easy to recognise what kind of walls a house has. A qualified cavity wall insulation installer will be happy to check the suitability of the walls with no obligation.
The drilling process can cause some vibration so it would be wise to remove ornaments for their safety and your peace of mind. Also, the insulation is only really effective if all walls are done – the installer will need access to all walls and need to get inside attached garages, lean-to sheds, conservatories etc. In some cases, the installer may need to access neighbouring property, so ask your neighbour in advance if this is okay.
Cavity wall insulation takes half a day to install and you won’t have to leave the house. As the work takes place on external walls only, there should be no disruption or mess inside the house. A number of 18mm-25mm holes are drilled into the wall about 1.5 metres apart and the insulation is inserted into the cavity. The installer should ensure that all air vents and flues remain clear and, once the cavities are full, the holes will be filled so that they match the original finish as closely as possible.
Loft insulation is mainly made of blown mineral fibre, also known as mineral wool, which has been treated with an adhesive. It is then formed into rolls of material for convenient handling. Where access is limited loose fill materials in a granular form can be blown into the loft space. These days there are a number of more environmentally friendly materials available, such as cellulose fibre, which is recycled paper treated to make it fire and vermin proof. Natural fibre insulation, such as hemp and treated sheep’s wool are also now available.
It can take as little as an hour or two, but it will depend on the area of the loft to be insulated, its access and any other work required, such as pipe or tank insulation. Your installer will be able to give you a better estimate of how long it will take depending on your home.
Once the loft has been insulated to a minimum 270mm thickness the ceiling joists will no longer be visible, making the roof space hazardous to anyone attempting to enter. You could ask a local joiner to fit additional joists and floor boarding to help maintain your storage area. If you already have a boarded area of no more than a third of the loft area the installers can work around it and leave it uncovered.
An alternative method would be to place normal insulation between the joists up to their current height (100mm), and then lay a type of rigid, insulating board on top of the joists, followed by chipboard to give the storage surface. Insulating board can be purchased from major DIY chains.
It is fairly common that loft roof spaces are not big enough for people to stand up in. Most installers carrying out the work are in a kneeling position on walkboards and the industry usually work to a 1.4m height minimum.
If you have your loft professionally insulated then upon completion of the work the installers will fit a draught excluder strip around the loft hatch (providing it is made of timber).
In general, if there are a small number of items and enough space, the installer will move them as he works. However, if there is limited space and too many items that will restrict movement they will have to be stored elsewhere during the installation. Organisations such as Care & Repair and Age UK may be able to provide the services of a handy man.
Yes. Insulation will not reverse any damage already done by condensation damp (for example mould growth or discoloured wallpaper), but it will reduce future damp as the insulation will help retain the heat in the wall and in the air in the house. Cavity wall insulation will ensure that the wall surface is warmer, and will therefore not encourage condensation to form. However, before cavity insulation can be installed a detailed survey should be undertaken to identify areas with damp or at risk of damp developing.
Cavity wall insulation must be installed for the full height of the building. In some instances it may be possible to insulate one end of a building, but not specific floors. Cavity ‘brushes’ can be used in the case of terraced and semi-detached properties to prevent the insulation material going into the cavities of adjoining properties.
1. Check your room thermostat…Many households have their central heating set higher than they need it, without even realising it. Try to turn your room thermostat down by one degree at a time, until it feels just right.
Every degree that you turn it down could save you around £65 a year on your heating bill.
2. Turn unnecessary electrical items off…Make sure you turn your lights, appliances and chargers off when you’re not using them. If you turn a light off for even a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes the light to start up again, no matter what sort of lights you have. And nearly all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems – the only exceptions are satellite and digital TV recorders which should be left plugged in so they can keep track of any programmes you want to record – but check the instructions on any appliances you aren’t sure about.
A family could save between £50 and £90 a year just by remembering to turn things off, if they don’t already do this.
3. Make savings in the kitchen…You can save up to £40 a year just by being careful how you use your kitchen appliances.
- Set your washing machine to wash at 30°C.
- Only use your tumble dryer when you can’t dry your clothes outside.
- Don’t fill your kettle right up every time – just boil the amount of water you need.
4. Fit an Eco Shower Head… If you’ve got a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than an electric shower) then you may be able to fit a water-efficient shower head and cut your hot water use without noticing any difference when you shower.
A shower head will cost around £27 and a family of four will save around £75 a year on water heating and another £90 on water bills if they have a water meter.
5. Lag Your Tank… If you have an uninsulated hot water cylinder, save money by fitting a tank jacket and insulate any exposed hot pipe work around the cylinder and around the boiler.
It’s easy to fit yourself, the materials for the whole lot will only cost you around £25, and you’ll save £60 a year.
6. Fit draught proofing… check your home for gaps around doors and windows, between the skirting board and the floor and use draught proofing to seal the gaps. You may have an open chimney that would benefit from having a removable chimney balloon fitted (but be sure not to block up essential ventilation vents in rooms where there is an open flue fire).
So why not buy some proper draught-proofing products for the doors and windows, seal your skirting boards with silicone sealant, and fit a chimney draught excluder? Depending on your house, materials could cost up to £160 but you could save up to £75 a year, so they’ll pay for themselves in less than two years.
7. Switch to low energy lighting…Have you changed all your light bulbs for low-energy ones, even halogen spots? You can now get LED spotlights that are bright enough to replace halogens, as well as regular energy saving bulbs (‘compact fluorescent lamps’ or CFLs) for pretty much everything else. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings. Look for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo to be assured of light quality and lifetime.
If the average household replaced all their remaining old-fashioned bulbs with CFLs and all their halogens with LEDs it would cost around £125 and save around £60 a year.
Water heated by immersion
In some homes, particularly those with electric storage heaters, the water can only be heated by immersion heater. There may be two immersions, one in the top of the cylinder and one in the bottom. Usually the bottom heater comes on at night, and heats the whole cylinder using cheap off-peak electricity. The top heater is used to provide additional hot water during the day if required, using expensive peak rate electricity.
Tip – DO NOT leave a peak rate immersion heater on all day and all night. You will waste a lot of money keeping water hot when you don’t need it.
Water heated by a boiler
In most homes, the hot water is supplied by the main central heating boiler, either directly if it is a combi boiler, or from a hot water cylinder. Often there will be an electric immersion heater in the cylinder as well.
Tip – use the boiler to heat the water, even in the summer. The immersion heater will be more expensive, and should only be used as an emergency back-up.
External wall insulation is a layer of insulation fixed to the outside walls of your home and covered in a special type of plaster or cladding. Houses built before 1920s usually have solid rather than cavity walls. Solid walls tend to let more heat escape from the home than cavity walls. External wall insulation helps reduce the heat travelling through your home’s walls helping you reduce your fuel bills and helping to make your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer – the new weatherproof exterior coating can help enhance the look of your home
- Save up to £475 a year on your energy bills.
- Helps reduce heat loss.
- Save around 1.9t of CO2 every year.
The right heating controls will let you keep your home at a comfortable temperature without wasting fuel or heat – so you’ll reduce your carbon dioxide emissions and spend less on heating bills.
If you have an electric storage heating and hot water system, with storage heaters use the off-peak electricity to ‘charge up’ overnight and then release heat during the day, you’ll need a different set of controls. If your home is heated by a system of water-filled pipes and radiators running from a boiler, you have a ‘wet’ central heating system, whether it is gas, LPG or oil-fired. Your full set of controls should ideally include a boiler thermostat, a timer or programmer, a room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs).
How much can you save?
Whatever the age of your boiler, the right controls will let you set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need them, heat just the areas of your home you want, and decide how warm you want each area to be. Here are the average savings you could make in a typical three-bedroom semi-detached home, heated by gas:
- Install a room thermostat if you didn’t have one before: £70 and 280kg carbon dioxide a year.
- Fit a hot water tank thermostat: £30 and 130kg carbon dioxide a year.
- Fit a hot water tank insulation jacket: £45 and 170kg carbon dioxide a year.
You can also make savings by using your controls more effectively:
- Turn down your room thermostat by one degree: save around £65 and 260kg carbon dioxide a year.
You can upgrade or install heating controls without replacing your boiler, and it’s a particularly good idea to think about this if your controls are over 12 years old. Room thermostats, for example, are much more accurate than they used to be.
These prevent your home getting warmer than it needs to be: they will turn the heating on until the room reaches the temperature you have set, and then off until the temperature drops.
Room thermostats need a free flow of air to sense the temperature, so they must not be blocked by curtains or furniture, or put near heat sources.
Your room thermostat should be set to the lowest comfortable temperature – typically between 18°C and 21°C. Try turning your thermostat down a degree or two and seeing if you still feel comfortable. You don’t need to turn your thermostat up when it is colder outside: the house will heat up to the set temperature whatever the weather. It may take a little longer on colder days, so you might want to set your heating to come on earlier in the winter.
A programmable room thermostat combines time and temperature controls and allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day. You can have different temperatures in individual rooms by installing thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on individual radiators.
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
Thermostatic radiator valves do not control the boiler: they just reduce the flow of water through the radiator they are fitted to when the temperature goes above a certain setting. Set them to the level you want for the room: a lower setting uses less energy and so will save you money.
Please note: We would not recommend using radiator covers because thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) sense the air temperature around them and control the flow rate depending on what level they’re set at. Having a cover over the radiator means that the TRV is enclosed, which is likely to make it think that the room temperature is higher than it actually is – because heat will be trapped between the radiator and the cover.
If you already have a radiator cover that cannot be removed, then it is still worth using TRVs to control the temperature as much as possible, although the radiator will be more effective at heating the room space without the cover. If you feel the radiator is not hot enough at a particular setting, turn up the TRV.
Save money by not overheating parts of your home that are unoccupied or need lower temperatures – bedrooms or rooms with lots of glazing, for example. You can have separate heating circuits with their own programmer and room thermostat (or programmable room thermostat) or set zones by using thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs).
If your hot water is stored in a cylinder, the thermostat will prevent it being hotter than it needs to be. Once the water has reached the temperature you have set, the heat supply from the boiler will be turned off.
Turning the thermostat higher will not make the water heat up any faster, and the water heating will not come on if a time switch or programmer has switched it off.
Cylinder thermostats are usually fitted between one quarter and one third of the way up the cylinder. They have temperature scales marked: you should set them at between 60ºC and 65ºC. This is hot enough to kill off harmful bacteria in the water, but it s also hot enough to scald. For extra safety consider installing a thermostatic mixing valve which will automatically ensure that hot water is at a safe temperature.
This is not a control but a system of wiring that turns the boiler off when neither the room thermostat nor the cylinder thermostat needs it. Without this the boiler can continue to ‘cycle’, wasting energy.
Your boiler will usually have a dial on it, marked in numbers or from Min to Max. This sets the temperature of the water that will be pumped from the boiler through the radiators to heat your home. The higher this is set, the quicker and more effectively the system will heat your home. In fact, if this is not set high enough, when it is very cold outside your home may not reach your desired temperature.
If you have a room thermostat and a boiler interlock, you can set the boiler thermostat quite high, letting the room controls do their job. But set it lower if there is anyone vulnerable in the household who might hurt themselves by coming into contact with very hot radiators or pipes.
Your boiler control thermostat should always be set to a higher temperature than the cylinder thermostat. In most boilers, a single boiler thermostat controls the temperature of water sent to both the cylinder and radiators, although in some they are separate.
Programmer or time control
This will automatically switch your heating off when you’re not at home, or when you can do without it, such as when you’re in bed.
Programmers allow you to set ‘on’ and ‘off’ time periods. Most models will let you set the central heating and domestic hot water to go on and off at different times. There may also be manual overrides. Check that the timer on the programmer is correct before you set your programmes. You may also need to adjust it when the clocks change.
Choose a cold evening and time how long it takes for your house to warm up from cold to a comfortable temperature – this is the warm-up time. Then turn the heating off completely and time how long it takes for the house to start to get uncomfortably cold – this is the cool-down time.
You can now set your timers including the warm up and cool down time. So, for example, you can make sure that the heating goes on with a warm-up time before you wake up and turns off before you leave the house. If you insulate your home, it will warm up more quickly and cool down more slowly, so you’ll save money on heating.
If you insulate your home, it will warm up more quickly and cool down more slowly, so you’ll save money on heating.
Set your water to heat up only when you need it: keeping it constantly hot uses energy. If your hot water cylinder or tank is well enough insulated, you may even find that the morning’s hot water stays hot enough to use in the evenings.
How can I save money on heating?
In a typical UK household, well over half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water. So in these times of ever increasing fuel costs, having an efficient and cost-effective heating system are vital – and it’s one of the main steps you can take to reduce your carbon dioxide emissions.
Understanding your system
The first step to saving energy from heating is to understand your current system. Nearly all homes in the UK have either a central heating system – a boiler and radiators – or they use electric storage heaters.
Central heating – a boiler and radiators
This is the most common form of heating in the UK. A single boiler heats up water that is pumped through pipes to radiators throughout the house as well as providing hot water to the kitchen and bathroom taps.
Most boilers run on mains gas but, in areas where mains gas is not available, the boiler can run on oil, LPG (tank gas), coal or wood. Mains gas is usually the cheapest of these fuels, and it also has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions apart from wood. Some boilers also have an electric immersion heater as a back-up.
Gas, oil and LPG boilers may be combination (combi) boilers, in which case they heat the hot water as it is needed and don’t need to store it. Otherwise, the boiler heats up water and it is stored in a hot water cylinder that then feeds the taps.
If you have a system like this, you have plenty of options for energy-saving improvements:
- Replace your boiler with a new more energy efficient model
- Fit better space and water heating controls and make sure your boiler only provides heat where and when you want it
- Switch to a cheaper or lower carbon fuel or technology.
- Draught proof and insulate where you can
- Use chemical inhibitors to help maintain central heating system efficiency
Using chemical inhibitors in central heating systems can maintain their efficiency – helping to save money on heating bills and reduce your energy consumption.
Corrosion deposits in an older central heating system can cause a substantial reduction in the effectiveness of the radiators, and the system as a whole – up to a 15% reduction. The build-up of scale in heating circuits and on boiler components can cause a reduction in efficiency too. Using an effective chemical inhibitor can decrease the corrosion rate and prevent the build-up of sludge and scale – preventing system deterioration and helping to maintain efficiency. Typically, it can increase boiler efficiency by around 3%.
Condensing boiler or not?
Since 2005 virtually all gas boilers that have been fitted in the UK have been more efficient, condensing boilers. Condensing boilers have bigger heat exchangers that recover more heat from the burning gas, making them more efficient. You can tell if your boiler is a condensing boiler with a few simple checks:
- If the flue is made of plastic, you have a condensing boiler. If it is made of metal you probably haven’t.
- If your boiler has a plastic pipe coming out of the bottom of the boiler, through the wall and into a drain, then it is a condensing boiler.
- If you have a gas boiler and it was installed after 2005, then it is almost certainly a condensing boiler.
- If you have an oil boiler and it was installed after 2007, then it is almost certainly a condensing boiler.
If you don’t already have an efficient condensing boiler, consider replacing your boiler with a newer, more efficient model.
Combi or regular?
Central heating boilers can be combination or regular. They heat the radiators in exactly the same way, but provide hot water for the taps in different ways:
- a combi (or combination) boiler provides hot water directly, whenever it is required, and does not need a hot water cylinder
- a regular boiler provides hot water when the programmer tells it to, and then stores it in a hot water cylinder until it is needed.
So if you do not have a hot water cylinder, you have a combi boiler.
A regular boiler is actually more efficient than a combi at producing hot water in the first place, but some heat is inevitably lost from the hot water cylinder, so a combi may be more efficient overall.
How can changing my windows reduce my energy bills?
All properties lose heat through their windows. But energy-efficient glazing keeps your home warmer and quieter as well as reducing your energy bills. That might mean double or triple glazing, secondary glazing, or just heavier curtains.
The benefits of energy-efficient windows
- Smaller energy bills: replacing all single-glazed windows with B-rated double glazing could save you around £170 per year on your energy bills.
- A smaller carbon footprint: by using less fuel, you’ll generate less of the carbon dioxide that leads to global warming – typically, 680kg a year.
- A more comfortable home: energy-efficient glazing reduces heat loss through windows and means fewer draughts and cold spots.
- Peace and quiet: as well as keeping the heat in, energy efficient-windows insulate your home against outside noise.
- Reduced condensation: energy-efficient glazing reduces condensation build-up on the inside of windows.
The costs and savings for energy-efficient glazing will be different for each home and each window, depending on the size, material and installer. Double glazing should last for 20 years or more.
How energy-efficient glazing works
Double-glazed windows have two sheets of glass with a gap between them, usually about 16mm, to create an insulating barrier that keeps heat in. This is sometimes filled with gas. Triple-glazed windows have three sheets of glass, but aren’t always better than double-glazed windows: to choose the most energy-efficient window look for the BFRC rating and Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo.
Energy-efficient windows come in a range of frame materials and styles. They also vary, depending on:
- how well they stop heat from passing through the window
- how much sunlight travels through the glass
- how little air can leak in or out around the window.
- In between: Very efficient windows might use gases such as argon, xenon or krypton in the gap between the sheets of glass.
- Pane spacers: These are set around the inside edges to keep the two panes of glass apart. For maximum efficiency, look for pane spacers containing little or no metal – often known as ‘warm edge’ spacers.
What to look for
- Glass: The most energy-efficient glass for double glazing is low emissivity (Low-E) glass. This often has an unnoticeable coating of metal oxide, normally on one of the internal panes next to the gap. This lets in light and heat but cuts the amount of heat that can get out.
For all frame materials there are windows available in all energy ratings.
- uPVC frames last a long time and can be recycled.
- Wooden frames can have a lower environmental impact, but require maintenance. They are often used in conservation areas where the original windows were timber framed.
- Aluminium or steel frames are slim and long-lasting, and can be recycled.
- Composite frames have an inner timber frame covered with aluminium or plastic. This reduces the need for maintenance and keeps the frame weatherproof.
Some window manufacturers show the energy efficiency of their products using an energy rating scheme from A to G – like the one used for appliances such as fridges. The whole window (the frame and the glass) is assessed on its efficiency at retaining heat. The scheme is run by the British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC).
Energy Saving Trust Recommended
The most efficient windows (B and above) can also carry the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo.
Replacement windows will be more airtight than your original frames, so condensation may build up in your house due to the reduced ventilation. If your house does not have much background ventilation, look for replacement windows with trickle vents incorporated into the frame to let in a small amount of controlled ventilation.
If you start to see condensation building up around your windows, there may be a damp problem in your home. As a general rule damp occurs when there is inadequate ventilation, inadequate heating, inadequate insulation or a combination of these. If you’ve started to notice condensation in between the panes of glass in your double-glazing units then it is likely that the seal is broken, and the unit will need to be replaced.
Windows in period properties
If you live in a conservation area or a listed building there may be restrictions on what you can do to your windows. There are a number of non-intrusive window insulation options available for historic homes such as heavy lined curtains, shutters, secondary glazing and sealed blinds. However, each historic building is considered individually so check with your local council to see what options are available to you.
These areas are of special architectural or historic interest, meaning that any work you carry out on your home must preserve or enhance the character of the area. This does not necessarily mean you cannot replace your windows, but might mean you will need to get windows that complement the character of the building and area. Double glazing can be made to look like your building’s original windows, but for any changes you do need to contact your local council’s conservation officer for guidance.
Listed buildings have tight controls on what you can change on the outside and sometimes the inside as well depending on their grading. Old sash windows in historic properties can be protected not only for their appearance but also the materials and methods used to make them. But secondary glazing can be a non-intrusive way of insulated historic windows from the inside, and may be granted permission.
There are other ways to make historic buildings more energy efficient but you will need to consult and apply for permission from your local planning authority.
Sash window units are common features of period properties and can be a design feature. They consist of two vertically sliding frames, but are often badly fitting and made of single pane glass so have poor insulating qualities.
If you want to insulate your sash windows there are a number of alternatives to conventional double glazing. If you want to keep the design and look of the sash windows, there are units available that are in keeping with the original design; these are fitted and sealed to prevent draughts and incorporate double glazing to reduce heat loss. The frames don’t need to be plastic, but can be metal or wood with an insulated core.
An increasing number of double glazing companies offer double glazing in period properties. Replacing sash windows can be expensive, though, so good-quality secondary glazing may be worth considering.
Alternatives to double glazing
If you can’t install double glazing – for example if you live in a conservation area, period property, or listed building – you can install secondary glazing, or use heavy curtains, or do both.
A secondary pane of glass and frame can be fitted inside the existing window reveal. This won’t be as well sealed as a double-glazing unit, but will be much cheaper to fit, and will still save energy – you could save about £105 a year on fuel bills. Low emissivity glass will improve the performance of secondary glazing.
Secondary glazing kits are available for the proficient DIYer to install themselves – these cuts down on costs and are a non-intrusive way of insulating your windows.
Heavy curtains, sealed blinds and shutters
Curtains lined with a layer of heavy material can reduce heat loss from a room through the window at night and cut draughts. Hollow blinds, fitted into place with a sealed frame, and sealed shutters will also help cut draughts and keep your heat in for longer.
Installing energy-efficient glazing
Before installing double glazing, check with your local planning office if you:
- live in a conservation area
- have an article 4 direction on your property, removing the right of permitted development
- have a listed building.
Most people will have double glazing fitted professionally.
Like any other part of the home, doors can be insulated and draught-proofed to prevent heat from escaping. Buildings regulations state that installing a new door requires approval from the relevant buildings control body, and new external doors now generally contain integrated insulation to reduce heat loss and comply with the regulations.
A properly fitted new external door should include an effective draught-proofing system. Existing doors can be improved by fitting draught-proofing strips around the seals and the letterbox. Fitting draught-proofing to the doors and windows will save the typical household around £30 a year.
Even the best-quality glazing loses heat more quickly than an uninsulated cavity wall. This means that conservatories are not thermally efficient and should not be heated. Provided they are never heated, and the doors between the conservatory and the heated house are kept shut in cold weather, they can actually reduce heat loss by acting as an extra insulating layer outside your house. You can make the most of this by installing a sealed sliding door, and sealed blinds or heavy, lined curtains to separate the conservatory more effectively from the rest of your house.
If you heat your conservatory, any benefit you may have had will soon disappear along with the heat that escapes into the outside air. Double glazing, blinds and shutters can all reduce the amount of heat wasted, but it is not possible to bring a conservatory up to the thermal standard of even an averagely insulated room. If you want to save energy and money, save your conservatory for the summer.
Lighting accounts for 8% of a typical household’s energy bills: cutting your lighting bill is one of the easiest ways to save energy and money in the home.
Whether you rent or own your property, or live in a house, flat or bungalow, you can save money today by changing the way you use your lights and by fitting new energy-saving lights.
- if you replace a traditional light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb of the same brightness you will typically save around £3 per year, or £50 over the life of the bulb
- if you replace a halogen downlighter with an equivalent LED you will typically save around £4 per year, or £14 0 by the time you have to replace the bulb.
Many homes today use a mixture of standard light fittings and halogen downlighters or spotlights (mainly in kitchens and bathrooms). There are low-energy alternatives for both these types of light:
- Compact fluorescents (CFLs) – these are what most people think of as an energy-efficient light bulb. A cost-effective option for most general lighting purposes, and now widely available.
- LEDs – even more efficient, and the ideal replacement for halogen downlighters. More expensive than CFLs but save even more money in the long term.
Of course, the easiest way to save on your lighting bill is simply to turn off the light when you’re not using it. You will ALWAYS save energy if you turn the light out when you leave the room, even if it’s only for a minute or two.
Using lights less
We all need light to do the things we want to do, but sometimes we leave lights switched on when we don’t need to, or we use more lights than we need. The basic message is simple – turn it off if you don’t need it. But here are a few tips to help…
- ALWAYS turn the lights off when you leave the room. Whatever type of lights you have, you will save energy by turning them off even for a few seconds.
- Most types of light bulb will last longer if you don’t switch them on and off repeatedly throughout the day. But you won’t save money by leaving any type of light on for a few minutes just to try and make it last longer. Just turn it off when you don’t need it and turn it back on again when you do. Simple.
- Try and arrange light switches so that it’s easy to turn them off. Most houses are wired so you can switch the landing light on at the top or the bottom of the stairs. Make sure you can do this wherever it will help, usually at every door to a room or corridor. Otherwise you may be tempted to leave the light on for later.
- If you have external lights, then a sensor that turns them on when you approach will make them much cheaper to run. If you fit a time switch too, they won’t keep coming on all night whenever a cat walks past.
- Use the right light for the job in hand. If you’re watching television you probably only want low level background lighting, but if you’re reading a book you will want something bright but local.
- Having a range of lights in a room, all with separate switches, will make it easier to achieve the lighting you want and need, whenever and wherever you want it. And you’ll save more energy than you would by using a single dimmer switch for the whole lot.
Size matters: the most efficient products come in small packages
Energy ratings labels on appliances are generally given to products based on size categories. The idea is to enable you to compare between two similarly sized products.
This means two differently sized appliances with the same energy rating may use quite different amounts of electricity. For instance an A rated 180-litre fridge freezer could cost only £39 a year to run whereas a larger 525-litre fridge freezer with a better A+ rating would cost £54 a year to run. That’s £13 a year more.
In trying to save energy it is therefore best to look for the product with the best energy rating for the size of product you require.
Standby: the energy that no-one uses
On average UK households spends between £50 – £90 a year each powering appliances left in standby mode or not in use. This is the energy used by certain appliances when they are not in use and not switched off at the plug. That’s quite a lot of money to spend powering your microwaves clock display!
As well as standby power, other new additions to the average household’s collection of electrical goods such as broadband modems, broadband routers, digi-boxes and cordless telephones remain using low levels of electricity when not being used. These are not items that we tend to think to turn off, but can gradually go on to consume a great deal of electricity over the year. For instance a broadband modem router can consume as much as £9 worth of electricity if left on for an entire year.
Fortunately there are a number of products available to help cut down your standby electricity consumption, such as standby savers that allow you to easily turn all of your appliances off from standby without having to reach for the plug.
Recent regulations specify that all electronic products sold within the EU after 2010 cannot have a standby power greater than 1W, which means we won’t have to worry as much in future about the standby consumption of our products. However, whilst the average standby consumption of new products is going down, households are being filled with more and more electronic gadgets, so it is still worth looking at your standby energy usage throughout your home.
Cookers are getting more efficient, and our recommended ovens have an ‘A’ energy rating so they are the most efficient of all; hobs that carry the logo are highly energy-efficient too. Switching your old cooker to an Energy Saving Trust Recommended model over the market average model could save you around £45 over its lifetime.
Microwave ovens are often a much more energy efficient way of cooking items than in the oven. This is because microwaves oven use energy to directly heat your food, whereas electric ovens must also heat the air inside the oven.
Dishwashers can take up a significant chunk of your electricity bill, costing on average around £47 a year to run. Over a year, it costs around £7 less to run an Energy Saving Trust Recommended dishwasher than it does an old, inefficient machine – and it will use less water.
Fridges, freezers and fridge-freezers are switched on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so it’s well worth finding models that are energy efficient. Choosing a new Energy Saving Trust Recommended model over the market average will save you around £89 in energy bills and 390 kg of carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the product. Look for the right size and the logo. Energy Saving Trust Recommended refrigeration appliances must all have an A+ or A++ energy rating. However because the energy rating is based upon classification by size, a smaller A rated fridge could use less energy than a larger A+ rated fridge. You can compare the total energy consumption of appliances by looking for their yearly energy consumption in kWh / annum displayed on the bottom right of its energy label.
Kettles are one of the most commonly used appliances in the kitchen. The strict testing for Energy Saving Trust Recommended kettles requires them to use 20% less energy than the average product. On average a UK household boils the kettle 1,500 times a year.
Tumble dryers: Drying clothes outdoors on a washing line or indoors on a rack costs nothing and uses no energy so it is the ideal way to dry your clothes. But if you need to use a tumble dryer, they use a great deal of energy, so choose one with the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label and it will cost less to run, helping you to reduce your energy bill. Choose one that has a sensor that tells when your clothes are dry enough, preventing your clothes from being over dried and the dryer running when it doesn’t need to.
- Gas tumble driers are one of the cheapest and most environmentally friendly type of drier to run. But this type of drier can be slightly more expensive to install as it needs a gas connection.
- Electric heat pump tumble driers are also very efficient as they recycle the heat from the ventilation tube back into the drier, but take away the water vapour from the air.
Washing machines: An energy efficient machine will save you money on to your electricity bill and, if you have a meter, your water bill too. All our recommended washing machines are rated the best in class for energy efficiency, spin efficiency and wash performance.
Televisions, set-top boxes, digital TV recorders, DVDs and DAB radios combined are responsible for around a fifth of a typical home’s electricity bill. Choosing the most efficient models helps to keep your energy bills down, so you save money and do your bit for the environment.
Digital radios or DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) radios have been one of the biggest-selling consumer electronic products in the last few years – with superior sound quality, a wide range of extra channels and rapidly falling prices. Digital radios generally consume more power than their analogue equivalents. Intertek testing for Which? 2006 showed an average digital radio to have a standby consumption of around 5 watts, which is around five times higher than analogue models. But the technology is rapidly improving, and digital radios carrying the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo use around 75% less electricity annually than older digital radios.
Digital television recorders: Recording your favourite shows doesn’t have to cost more in energy bills. In most homes, entertainment equipment accounts for about 20% of your electricity bill. Energy Saving Trust Recommended digital television recorders must meet strict energy performance criteria.
Televisions can be the most power-hungry of all entertainment appliances, particularly the larger ones. The larger a television is the more energy it will consume, regardless of its energy rating. For instance, an A-rated 22″ LCD TV would typically cost £6 a year to run whereas an A-rated 56″ TV would cost £31. Choosing a smaller TV generally means choosing a more efficient TV. While it’s tempting to go for a larger screen, larger screens show up the imperfections of non-high-definition TV signals and make it easier to notice the blockiness of images from DVD and blu-ray videos. So you might get a better viewing experience with a smaller TV. Look for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label to get one of the most efficient available TVs of its category.
- HD and 3D TV: Many homes now have cable HD TV and most televisions on the market nowadays are HD ready. HD TVs have more pixels per square inch of screen area and therefore tend to consume more energy than SD (Standard Density) televisions. Buying a smaller SD TV is likely to use less energy than an HD TV, but with the move towards HD broadcasting you might wish to consider how long into the future you are happy to continue using an SD TV.
- LED, LCD and plasma screen are most common forms of flat-screen TVs on the market. LED and LCD TVs are not as good for seeing the screen from sideward angles, but otherwise there is little difference between the picture quality of these and plasma screen TVs. However, plasma screen TVs tend not to come in smaller sizes, and generally use more energy than similar sized LED or LCD TVs.
Simple set-top boxes turn your TV digital. An Energy Saving Trust Recommended simple set-top box must be efficient in both ‘on’ and standby mode. The label is your guarantee that you’re buying a simple set-top box that uses less energy. As it’s a product you’ll use frequently, it’s well worth your while to look for the label and get the most energy-efficient model.
Energy-saving plugs and sockets come in a number of forms; they can come with timers or a single off switch. You can plug televisions and computing equipment into them to reduce standby power and make it easier for you to switch everything off with a single switch. On average a UK home spends between £50 – £90 a year powering electronic goods left in standby. You can save on your energy bills by ensuring that you turn this equipment off at the plug after when it is not being used.
Household computers, printers, monitors and laptops on average make up around 13% of electricity around the home. Choosing an energy-efficient computer can have a real impact on your carbon dioxide emissions and your energy costs. If someone else is in charge of buying your equipment, ask about getting a laptop instead of a desktop, and see if they’re aware of Energy Saving Trust Recommended models, which use less energy in ‘sleep’ and ‘standby’ as well as when they’re running.
Desktop and laptop PCs: Laptops typically uses 85% less electricity over a year than desktop PCs do, so they’re already the more energy-efficient choice. If your computing needs are met by a laptop, then why not consider one as an alternative to a desktop PC? With smaller components and screens, laptops use much less electricity than desktop computers, which can save you around £26 a year. If you do need a desktop computer, choose a PC with the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label. This will mean it uses less energy in ‘sleep’ and ‘standby’ too – not just when it’s running.
Inkjet printers: Whether it’s a single-function or multi-function inkjet printer that copies, scans and faxes too, there’s an energy saving choice. If you’re going to buy a printer, look for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended label – these printers use 40% less electricity in sleep mode than average new models.
What to do with your old appliances
Making electrical items uses a lot of energy and valuable materials, including precious metals like gold and silver. Electrical equipment can also contain chemicals like lead and mercury. These chemicals can get into the environment and harm people or animals if items are not disposed of carefully.
Items which have the image of a wheelie bin with a cross (below) on them should not be disposed of using the general household rubbish collection. These items include everything from large white goods to energy saving light-bulbs. By keeping waste electrical equipment separate from other waste, the hazardous substances can be removed and other parts can be recycled rather than sent to landfill.
Disposing of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE):
If you are buying new electrical appliances, retailers are obliged by law to either:
- take your old appliances off you for free in store
- tell you where you can take your old item for recycling free of charge.
Many retailers offer collection of old appliances from your home, although they are not obliged to do this.
Alternatively you can take your old equipment to your nearest WEEE recycling point, or ask for your local authority to collect your bulky items – some may charge for this service.
If your home was built before 1920, its external walls are probably classed as solid rather than cavity walls. Cavity walls are made of two layers with a small gap or ‘cavity’ between them. Solid walls have no gap between them which means that they let more heat through. Solid walls can be insulated – either from the inside (internal wall insulation) or the outside (external wall insulation).
You could save on average between £450 and £500 per year on your heating bills by insulating your solid walls.
A hard-to-treat (HTT) home is defined as one where you are unable to improve energy efficiency with lower-cost measures – such as cavity wall insulation – due to the age of the property or nature of its construction.
Hard-to-treat properties usually have one of the following contruction characteristics
- A cavity that is less than 50mm wide
- The wall is a prefabricated concrete construction with a cavity
- The wall has a metal frame construction with a cavity
- A stone cavity. Many older properties have uneven cavities in walls constructed of a natural stone outer leaf and a block or brick inner leaf
- A timber frame un-insulated studwork cavity. These properties have a masonry cavity, which must not be filled
- Cavities that have already been partially filled. These can be topped up with a ‘hard-to-treat system’
- The property is simply too high for standard cavity treatment i.e. it is more than four storeys tall, or has features such as conservatories that can create difficulties in terms of access which can increase costs
If you think you have a HTT property give us a call and you may be eleigble to free* insulation
The Green Deal gives special ‘loans’ or grants to improve your home to cut energy bills. You needn’t be on a low income – anyone can apply
Energy efficiency can save you hundreds of pounds a year on your gas and electricity bills and, just as importantly, make your home a more pleasant place to live in.
The big idea is that the Green Deal helps you make energy-saving home improvements to your property, and you pay for it using the savings from your energy bills. You also get a snugger home.
You can borrow money to upgrade boilers, install loft or cavity wall insulation and much more. Unlike many energy efficiency grants, it’s not just for those on lower incomes (though more help is available if you are).
Can I do the Green Deal if I rent, not own, my place?
If you’re renting and want to improve your pad, you need the landlord’s permission, as Green Deal repayments will affect future tenants. Landlords need tenants’ permission to sign up too, as it’s the tenants who pay the bills, whether within their rent or directly.
Almost eight million people in the UK rent their home, so the Government is also encouraging landlords to sign up to the Green Deal.
Currently, you can’t force your landlord to improve their property. But from April 2016, landlords won’t be able to refuse reasonable improvement requests from tenants.
And by April 2018, landlords with poor Energy Performance Certificates ratings (F or G) will be forced to make their properties more efficient, by either bringing them up to an E rating, or by carrying out the maximum package of measures that can be funded under the Green Deal – so it could be worth encouraging them now.
Landlords can get more info from the National Landlords Association’s Green Deal service.
Can I do the Green Deal if I’m on a prepayment energy meter?
When you borrow via Green Deal, you make repayments through electricity bills. But you can still get Green Deal improvements if you’re on a prepay meter. A small amount will be taken from the electricity meter each day, in addition to the energy you use.
For example, suppose you add £30 to your electric meter. If you use £1.50 of electricity a day, if you’re also paying back the Green Deal, you’ll see more than £1.50 go off the meter that day. The amount will depend on your loan repayments.
As Green Deal repayments are only taken from electricity bills, if your efficiency saving is on your gas bill (eg, a new boiler saves on gas used), you may have to top up your electricity key or card more often to compensate.
If you’re on a prepay meter, it’s also worth checking if you qualify for grants to warm up your home. Energy companies are obliged to help people on low incomes and in low-income areas under a different scheme called Eco
Also if you’re on a prepay meter, don’t assume you can’t get a cheaper tariff by switching provider or by just getting a better deal.
If you need further advice, you can contact us on Freephone 0800 009 3363.
Savings supplied by the Energy Saving Trust. For more information on this and other energy saving advice go to www.energysavingtrust.org.uk