Energy Efficiency and Conservation

What is energy efficiency? 

Energy efficiency means using less energy for the same activity.

Doing things to improve energy efficiency in your home is an important way of reducing your energy costs and your carbon emissions – friendly for your wallet and the planet!

The main ways to do this in your home are:

  1. Use energy-efficient household goods – like your fridge or washing machine.
  2. Improve insulation of the doors, windows, walls, floors and roofs.
  3. Looking after your household goods helps them to keep working for longer and to keep being efficient.

Energy efficient appliances

What to look for when choosing new appliances?

When looking for energy efficient appliances for your home, you need to look out for the energy rating label on appliances and consider the size of the appliance that you require.

How do energy labels work?

Energy ratings are generally given to products based on their size. This means that 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 £39 a year to run, whereas a larger 525-litre fridge freezer with a better A+ rating could cost £52 a year to run.

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Which appliances should be Energy Efficient?

The simple answer is all of them.

However, there are some appliances which are particularly significant regarding their energy consumption and therefore opting for energy-saving versions will be especially effective at reducing bills and CO2 emissions. These include:

  • Fridges
  • Freezers
  • Tumble Driers
  • Washing Machines
  • Hot Water Boilers
  • Lightbulbs
  • Hair Driers

The Importance of insulation

How is heat energy lost from the home?

Heat energy can be lost from a home through a number of ways including:

  1. “Cold-bridges”, such as window lintels and balconies are particularly likely to cause heat to be lost from a home.
  2. Warm air is lighter than cold air, so will naturally rise above the cold air in a property. This means that much heat will travel up to loft spaces or be lost through cracks and holes in the property’s walls, doors and windows. Unsealed, unused chimney can also cause a large amount of heat to be lost from a home through the convection process.

How to Protect Against Heat Loss in the Home?

Insulation is the best way of preventing heat from being lost from a property. There are many different ways in which a home can be insulated to ensure as little heat as possible escapes.

Below are a selection of things that you can do to improve the insulation of a property – some are small things you can do yourself and others might need the help of a professional:

  1. Use curtains, blinds, carpets and wallpaper to add an extra layer of insulation to a room.
  2. Block or seal holes or cracks in walls, roofs, doors, windows and floors. You can find more information here.
  3. Install double glazing or add an additional layer of protection to the windows (such as plastic film – known as secondary glazing).
  4. Place reflective foil behind radiators to prevent heat escaping through the walls behind them
  5. Lag hot water pipes using foam tubing, cut to size to prevent heat from escaping.
  6. Install loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and underfloor insulation.

Loft insulation

If your loft is easy to access and has no damp or condensation problems it should be easy to insulate. It is possible to do it yourself.

Even if your loft is needed for storage or converted for a room – whatever your roof or loft situation there are ways you can insulate to reduce heat loss.

Wall insulation – if you are not sure what type of wall you have you can work it out here.

cavity wall is made up of two walls with a gap in between, known as the cavity; the outer leaf is usually made of brick, and the inner layer of brick or concrete block.

Solid walls can be insulated – either from the inside or the outside. This will cost more than insulating a standard cavity wall, but the savings on your heating bills will be bigger too.

This can be done by someone competent in DIY or a professional installer.

  • Block unused chimneys
  • Insulate cold bridges

When you are making changes within your home whether small or major, it is important to take steps to ensure the work is to a high quality, using the Competent Person Scheme helps to be confident in the standard of the work

Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is about the things that you can do to help save energy, reduce CO2 emissions and save money on your monthly bills.

What can you do?

  1. Monitoring of consumption
  2. Avoid unnecessary use of energy

Monitoring your energy use can be easier with a smart meter

What is a smart meter?

Smart meters are gas and electricity meters that help you keep track of how you use energy in your home.

They have in-home displays that measure the total energy used in the same way as a traditional meter, but they can also tell you when you have used it and how much it costs. They are also able to give your energy supplier this information which could help them give you the best tariff.

You can also compare your current and past use to help you understand your energy use and bills.

Every home and business in Great Britain will be offered smart meters for electricity and gas by the end of 2020.

Below are some things that you can do in your day to day life that can help save energy around your home.

Fridge

  • If you can, try to keep your fridge 3/4 full
  • Keep your fridge closed when you are unpacking shopping

Freezer

  • Keep your freezer closed while unpacking the shopping
  • Try not to keep the freezer too full

Oven

  • Keep oven door closed while you are cooking
  • If you can – turn the fan on when you cook
  • If you need to defrost food, it is best to do it overnight before you plan to cook it
  • Remember to prick foods (potatoes for example) before cooking
  • Use ceramics or glass dishes in the oven
  • You can turn off the oven 10 minutes before the cooking is meant to end because the oven will be hot enough
  • Cook two meals at the same time
  • It is more efficient to use a microwave instead of the cooker

Hob

  • Use a pan that closely fits the size of the hob.
  • Use flat-bottomed pans
  • Use the microwave instead of hob

Microwave

  • Turn off the plug, in between use

Washing Machine

  • It is best to use the washing machine when it is full
  • Use the coolest wash you can
  • Skip the last rinse on the cycle when you can
  • Use the ECO setting when you can
  • Turn off the plug, in between use
  • Using the washing machine at non-peak times is cheaper for energy use

Tumble Drier

  • Add dry towel to drier
  • Use sunshine to dry clothes in summer
  • Turn off at the plug, in between use

Dishwasher

  • It is best to use the dishwasher when it is full
  • Turn off at the plug, in between use

Kettle

  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need
  • Regularly descale your kettle – you can find lots of cheap ways to do this with household products online

Other appliances

  • Switch appliances off at the plug
  • Unplug chargers
  • Reduce computer screen brightness
  • Reduce television screen brightness
  • Use a broom instead of a vacuum cleaner on hard floors

Lighting

  • Switch off lights when you leave a room

Heating/Hot Water

  • Draw curtains/blinds at night
  • Turn down heating by 1 degree (Not less than 18°c)

Shower

  • If you can, replace taking baths with taking showers
  • Cut shower time by 1 minute per day

Extractor Fan

  • Turn off extractor fan when possible – although not during and after showers and baths.

So far we have looked at how to buy efficient appliances and how your behaviour with the appliances in your home can reduce bills and CO2 emissions – if you want to make a bigger difference it can be a good idea to improve insulation or make other changes in your home.