An energy efficient home is better for the environment and for your wallet. More of us are trying to make changes to lead a more sustainable life. If you’ve already ditched the single-use plastic and embraced the reusable carrier bag, you can continue to make improvements to your global footprint by making some changes around the home. With some changes to the house and your habits, you can improve on energy efficiency, and save yourself a little on the bills too.
Change Your Heating Habits
You don’t have to spend the winter nights freezing to save on the heating bill. Dropping the thermostat by just one degree can save you money, without you feeling the cold. Even a small change in temperature helps. Instead of turning the heating up when you feel cold, encourage the family to wear warm clothes in the house. Make things cosy with extra blankets to curl up with on the sofa. For night, buy thick duvets and drape blankets over your bed. Wear warm pyjamas and curl up with a hot water bottle or a wheat bag you can heat in the microwave.
Don’t leave the heating on when you don’t need it. Put the heating on a timer so it doesn’t come on when nobody is at home. Set it to come on just before you’ll get home so you can get in to a warm house. Set up correctly, you should only need the heating to come on in the mornings and evenings during the week, while the family is out at school or work.
Insulate The House
A well-insulated house will keep in the warmth during cold weather, and help the house to stay cool when the weather is hot. Check what insulation your home already has, and see if there is anything more efficient you could switch to.
Insulation in the roof is particularly important. Trap heat inside with good attic insulation which will help you lower your heating bill.
Fit Solar Panels
The initial fitting of solar panels is expensive, but they can save you energy and money in the long-run. Solar panels can be used to generate electricity for your home, which of course will lower your bills. In some areas, you can also claim tax incentives, so even your tax bill will be lower if you have solar panels. You can reduce your use of fossil fuels and save on the bills, and may even be able to get a grant to have them fitted.
Upgrade Your Windows
If you don’t already have double glazing, you should change your windows. Double glazing is one of the simplest ways to improve how well your home retains heat. If you’re worried about the cost of all the new windows, see if you could be eligible for double glazing funding. These help-to-buy schemes are designed to help homeowners better manage the cost of making improvements to a house that will improve energy efficiency and reduce energy bills.
While you’re working on the windows, you can fit weatherstripping around the frames to close-up any gaps. Use silicone caulk to seal cracks, and you can even apply sheets of shrink film over the glass to really improve how much heat is kept in. You can keep the warmth inside and save on cranking up the heating.
Reduce Your Water Wastage
Most homes use a lot of water. Between cooking, washing and making cups of tea, it’s easy to get through a lot of water. You can reduce your water bill by making a few simple changes to your habits.
In the bathroom, save water by turning off the taps while you’re brushing your teeth or shaving. Don’t turn on the shower until you’re ready to get in, and don’t overfill the bathtub. Encourage the family to take shorter showers. Even just a minute less each time will soon add to less water used, and less on your water bill. Put a clock somewhere in the bathroom where you can see it from the shower so you can keep track of how long you’re showering for. Fit your shower with a low flow showerhead. Most low flow heads use around 2.5 gallons of water per minute, which is half what most traditional showerheads use.
In the kitchen, be careful about how much water you use. Fill the kettle only with the amount of water you need for the drinks you’ll be making instead of filling it all the way up every time. Do the same with water for cooking; only use what you need and don’t overfill pans.
When you’re washing the dishes, use a washing up bowl instead of filling the sink. The bowl keeps the water hot for longer, and needs less water to fill it up.
Think about your washing machine use too. Washing half loads of laundry means running the machine more often, which is a waste of water. Wait until you have a full load to put into the washing machine, and only run the machine full. You’ll do less loads of laundry, use less water and turn the machine on less often.
Seal Gaps To Shut Out Drafts
Old houses can get drafty, which can make you feel cold and want to turn up the heating. If you have large gaps under the doors, lay down a draft excluder to stop cold air getting in. Hang a heavy curtain across doors that lead to the outside to immediately make the house feel warmer. You can also line the letter box to stop the heat getting out that way.
Stop Leaving Things On Standby
We’re all guilty of leaving our electronics on or on standby. Instead, turn things off at the wall to save power and money. If you run some appliances at night, like the washing machine, plug them in to timer plugs, which you can see to turn off when the appliance is no longer needed without having to get up.
One of the big overuses of power is phone chargers. Many of us leave them plugged in even when we’re not charging. This is actually a real waste of energy, as the chargers keep drawing power from the socket, even when the phone isn’t connected. It’s also been known for chargers left plugged in to overheat and catch fire when not in use. Unplugging them not only saves you money, but might even save your life.
Replace Outdated Boilers and Appliances
As technology improves, many appliances are more energy efficient than their counterparts of a few years ago.
If your boiler is a few years old, it may not be running as efficiently as it could, and it may be worth replacing it for one designed to save energy and bring your bills down. Take care of your appliances and replace them when they become outdated with newer models that will help you save money in the long term.
Replace Light Bulbs For Energy Efficient Bulbs
Changing the light bulbs you use around the house is an easy way to use less electricity and save on the lighting bill. Halogen and LED bulbs use a lot less power than traditional light bulbs, and usually have a longer life too. You’ll need to replace them less, which is another saving on top of the reduced electricity bill.
Get in the habit of turning off lights you don’t need. Turn off the lights in any room that’s left empty, and teach children to do the same.
Change Your Laundry Habits
Most washing powders and laundry detergents work just as well when washing in cold water as they do in hot. When doing a load of laundry, choose a cool or lukewarm wash. Heating up the water is what uses most power when you run the washing machine, so turning it down makes a huge difference. Cold water is also less likely to cause colours to run or clothes to shrink, which is an added bonus. Run a hot wash occasionally to keep the machine clean, but for most washes, cooler is better.
Cut back on how often you use a tumble dryer. If the weather is good enough, dry clothes outside on a clothesline. No power required and your clothes will smell of fresh air. If the weather is wet, you can use a drying rack inside. During the winter, put the drying near a heater to speed up drying times.
Get A Smart Meter
A smart meter is a great tool to help the whole family learn better habits when it comes to energy saving. You can see exactly how much power something uses in real time, and how much it’s costing you. Being able to see the money going up is bound to help you remember to switch off lights, take speedier showers and turn the heating down.
Learn these habits as a family to boost the savings and teach the children to think in a more environmentally conscious way.