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How to make your home more energy efficient – 2021

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Whether you design your home with energy efficiency in mind or you’re looking to add features retrospectively, every effort you make will contribute to reducing your energy consumption. Limiting energy usage is not only good for the planet but your bank account too.

Regardless of your reasons for making your home more energy-efficient, it doesn’t have to cost the world or take over your life – start small, and the changes will add up.

 

Why bother?

There are plenty of reasons that you should try to make your home greener or more energy-efficient. Making changes to use fewer resources like electricity and gas reduces our overall energy consumption levels, which in turn[i]:

  • Reduces reliance on fossil fuels
  • Protects wildlife habitats
  • Saves money on energy bills

If everyone makes a small change to their homes, it will add up to a big difference.

 

Where do I start?

When you start looking at your home’s energy efficiency, you need to know your end goal. If you’re trying to limit water usage, you might look into systems and gadgets that use water in smaller volumes. Or, if you want to reduce your heating bill, you should be looking at whether your boiler is running effectively and if your insulation is in good nick. Ideally, it would help if you reviewed your energy consumption as a whole.

Below, we’ll walk you through the best ways to make your home more energy efficient in 2021.

 


Replace your insulation

Good quality insulation is vital for stopping heat from escaping your home. So, why does this matter? If less heat escapes, your home will warm up faster and retain warmth. Better insulation means you won’t have to blast the heating 24/7 during cold winter months, limiting energy usage and cutting down on bills. You should look at the state of all insulation in your home.

You may be able to access a Government grant to help cover the cost of this improvement – look at more information about the Green Homes Grant scheme.

Roof/loft insulation

Roof insulation is simple to install and has a significant impact. Heat rises in your home, and your roof insulations job is to trap this heat in the house. If your roof has no insulation, you can lose up to a quarter of the heat in your home[ii].

Cost: £25 – £30 per square metre (about £400 – £500 in an average property)

Wall insulation

Cavity wall insulation has been included in new builds in the UK since the 1980s to help prevent heat loss. Pre-1985 properties may have had cavity insulation retrofitted or have solid walls that won’t allow for cavity insulation. If you’ve recently moved into a house, your EPC certificate will tell you if you have insulated cavity walls.

Over time, insulation that was fitted retrospectively and not to a good standard may start to cause issues with damp or disintegrate and become ineffective. In these cases, you should replace it completely.

Insulating your walls can save a huge 35% on your heating bills[iii].

Cost: £475 – £700


Have your boiler serviced or replaced

Heating is often our most expensive household bill, which means your boiler should be your first point of call when you’re trying to reduce the annual costs of running your home.

Replacement

The average lifespan of a boiler is 10 – 15 years[iv] if they are maintained to an excellent standard and used sensibly. When they get past this point, they become less efficient, are more likely to break down or malfunction, and in some cases, they can even be dangerous. There is an average of 250 hospitalisations per year from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by faulty boilers[v]. You should switch out your old boiler for a modern model when it reaches the end of its lifespan or if your boiler engineer advises an upgrade during your annual service.

Cost: £1,500 – £5,000 according to a Which? survey[v]

Service

More efficient boilers are safer and cost less to run, so you should have your boiler serviced at least once a year. Annual services can be done in as little as 30 minutes and will ensure problems and spotted and fixed before they get any worse.

Cost: £80+ one-off service cost[vi], this can usually be covered by insurance


Monitor your energy usage

Most of us aren’t aware of how much energy is consumed by putting the heating on for an hour or leaving the TV on standby whilst we go to the shops. If you aren’t sure about that, you probably aren’t sure how much it costs you either, or why your monthly energy bills are so high.

An easy way to resolve this is to invest in a smart meter (or energy monitor). Some electric and gas companies might give you one for free if you ask for one. These will provide you with an accurate reading of how much electric or gas you use in a day and your usage cost.

This will make you and your family warier of how much energy you use and will help you to cut down.

Cost: £25+ for a smart meter, or provided for free by your energy company


Save on heating water

You probably use a lot more energy than you think by heating water. Powerful showers, kettles, baths, and other household accessories can contribute massively to heating and water bills.

Water saving showerhead

A common misconception is that a more powerful shower = a more efficient shower because people spend less time washing when the water pressure is better. Switching to a water saving or ‘low flow’ showerhead can reduce your water consumption by 60% a year[vii] by cutting the water flow from 15-20 litres per minute to under 10 litres per minute.

Cost: £20+

 

Energy saving kettle

Kettles are a much-loved appliance in every British home, and it’s likely that you can’t count on one hand how many times you use yours over the course of a day. Your kettle alone will add around £4.50 to your energy bill each month and they are boiled 1500 times a year in an average British household[viii]. You can reduce your electricity usage and monthly bill by switching to an eco-kettle with low heat loss walls that only boils the amount of water you need.

Cost: £30+


Quick, easy energy saving tips

Aside from general home improvements and buying new gadgets, there are small jobs and changes you can make to save energy easily.

  • Make living areas cosier – Bare rooms with minimal soft furnishings often feel colder. Choosing soft furnishings like bucket chairs and fabric sofas alongside the addition of fluffy blankets, throws and rugs might make you resist the temptation to flick the heating on as soon as the temperature drops.
  • Hang curtains – Although blinds are very aesthetically pleasing, ill-fitted blinds don’t do much in terms of insulation. Hanging thick blackout curtains (especially during the winter) will help to keep the cold out.
  • Turn off the lights – This is something everyone forgets to do and has probably caused its fair share of arguments. Turning off the lights is an easy way to save energy and cut down electricity bills.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water – most of the energy in a wash cycle is used to heat up the water. Live by the mantra ‘if it’s not dirty, wash at 30’, and watch savings build up over the course of the year.
  • Look at energy ratings – when an old appliance is at the end of its lifespan and it’s time to replace it, keep an eye out for appliances with good energy ratings.

Are you ready to start saving?

The ideas we’ve given above are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to making your home run more efficiently. There are plenty of small and big changes you can make, so why not get started today?


References

Absolute Solar, n.d. Cavity Wall Insulation Facts and Figures. [Online] Available at: https://absolutesolar.co.uk/cavity-wall-insulation/cavity-wall-insulation-facts-and-figures/ [Accessed February 2021].
British Gas, n.d. Why should I get my boiler serviced?. [Online] Available at: https://www.britishgas.co.uk/home-services/boilers-and-heating/guides/boiler-servicing.html [Accessed February 2021].
Checkatrade, 2021. Boiler service cost guide. [Online] Available at: https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides/boiler-service-cost/ [Accessed February 2021].
Energy Saving Trust, n.d. Roof and loft insulation. [Online] Available at: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/roof-and-loft-insulation/ [Accessed February 2021].
Fernando, D., 2016. Eco Kettles – Saving Energy And Cutting Your Bills. [Online] Available at: https://ecoarcade.co.uk/eco-kettles-saving-energy-and-cutting-your-bills/ [Accessed February 2021].
Greenhalgh, T., 2020. How much water does a low flow shower head save?. [Online] Available at: https://www.savemoneycutcarbon.com/learn-save/how-much-water-does-a-low-flow-shower-head-save/ [Accessed February 2021].
Liburd, T., 2020. How long do boilers last?. [Online] Available at: https://www.homeserve.com/uk/living/heating-and-cooling/how-long-do-boilers-last/ [Accessed February 2021].
Mostyn, M., 2020. 7 ways to make your home more energy efficient. [Online] Available at: https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-efficient-is-my-home.html [Accessed February 2021].
Which?, n.d. How much does a new boiler cost?. [Online] Available at: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/boilers/article/buying-a-new-boiler/boiler-prices-how-much-does-a-new-boiler-cost-aK2dh2j3Cabo [Accessed February 2021].

 

Sources

[i] https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-efficient-is-my-home.html
[ii] https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/advice/roof-and-loft-insulation/
[iii] https://absolutesolar.co.uk/cavity-wall-insulation/cavity-wall-insulation-facts-and-figures/
[iv] https://www.homeserve.com/uk/living/heating-and-cooling/how-long-do-boilers-last/
[v] https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/boilers/article/buying-a-new-boiler/boiler-prices-how-much-does-a-new-boiler-cost-aK2dh2j3Cabo
[vi] https://www.checkatrade.com/blog/cost-guides/boiler-service-cost/
[vii] https://www.savemoneycutcarbon.com/learn-save/how-much-water-does-a-low-flow-shower-head-save/
[viii] https://ecoarcade.co.uk/eco-kettles-saving-energy-and-cutting-your-bills/

Anna Sharples

Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.

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