Make your home energy efficient and save

5 min | 07 November 2022

Janice Warman
Janice Warman

With energy prices at an all-time high, there's never been a better time to make your home more energy efficient.

With global warming at the forefront of current issues, there's never been a better time to do your bit for the planet and think about reducing your energy consumption. But cutting your energy usage can also save you money. There are many simple things you can do to cut on the use of power in your home, whether it be electricity, gas or heating oil, while there are costlier options that could save you money over the long term.

Simple tips to help you save on energy

How can you save money if you live in a rented flat, and can’t make any big structural changes? You could begin by buying a few smart plugs with energy monitoring. These will show you which of your devices around the home are costing you the most. Using your WiFi network and an app on your phone, you can control your appliances remotely to control your energy use. You may also wish to replace or retire the most wasteful devices. Don't forget about draught excluders and heavy curtains which can also help reduce heat escaping or cold air coming in.

The Energy Saving Trust, an independent organisation working to address the climate emergency, has revealed the top five most expensive household appliances. At the top of the list are wet appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, which account for 14% of the typical energy bill. Here you can save money by washing at lower temperatures, waiting until the dishwasher is full rather than washing partial loads, and using the eco setting. Then come the cold appliances, your fridge or fridge-freezer, which are on 24 hours a day and typically account for about 13% of your bill. They last an average of 17 years, so when you replace them, it can be worth choosing the highest-rated one you can afford.

Next comes consumer electronics in 3rd place. Our TVs, game consoles and laptops account for around 6% of our annual bill. It’s best to turn them off rather than leave them on standby.

Coming in 4th is lighting, which consumes 5% of our energy. Luckily here it is quite easy to replace halogen bulbs with LED bulbs, which are far more energy efficient. It’s also important to turn off lights when you leave a room – a simple fix that can save an average of £25 a year.

Close behind, lighting in 5th place, comes cooking, using about 4% of annual energy bills including the hob, kettle, oven and microwave. Microwaves are more efficient than ovens, while using only as much water as you need in your kettle can save an average of £13 a year.

When you replace your home appliances, the Energy Saving Trust also has advice on how to choose the most efficient products and save on power.

If you sell or rent out your home, you'll need an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (Opens in new window) The goal is to have the lowest emissions possible, which will cut your bills and boost your home’s value.

Bigger projects can save you more long term

If you own your home and are hoping to save more, you might want to choose bigger projects or swaps, such as an air-source heating system, underfloor heating, solar panels or double glazing. First, though, you should check the costs of installing green power against the savings, and whether there are grants available.

You can find government-backed energy grants for your home on the gov website (Opens in new window) This includes the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the Local Authority Delivery Scheme, the Home Upgrade Grant, the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund and the Energy Company Obligation (ECO).

The government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme (Opens in new window) can help you get £5,000 off an air-source heat pump or a biomass boiler, and £6,000 off a ground-source heat pump. Find out if your property is eligible (Opens in new window)

An air-to-water system works by absorbing heat from the air and turning it into a liquid distributed by your normal heating system. The air-to-air system works by producing warm air that is distributed throughout your home by fans.

Advantages include lower fuel bills, lower emissions, no fuel deliveries, they can heat your home as well as your water, they need minimal maintenance and are easier to install than other types of heat pump.

If you'd like to find out more about the government’s Green Deal, where you can take out a loan, read more at the gov website (Opens in new window) Typical examples of improvements that could save you the most energy include renewable energy generation, such as solar panels or heat pumps.

You can also install double glazing, draught-proof your property and install insulation in your roof, says (Opens in new window)

Now track it

Keeping track of all your bills, including energy costs, will help you to manage them. There are phone apps that will help you track your outgoings in real time. You may wish to ask your energy supplier for a regular payment scheme or fixed rate, which could help you to plan your budget for the year. Most suppliers offer discounts to customers who pay by Direct Debit. These are regular amounts calculated on your annual use and divided into monthly or quarterly payments. The disadvantage is that you may overpay for summer usage, but the advantage is that your bills will not shoot up in winter. Other methods include a prepayment meter and paying online using an app.

You can also get help through the winter fuel payment (Opens in new window), cold weather payment (Opens in new window) and warm home discount (Opens in new window)

Meanwhile, little tweaks could make a big difference. British Gas, for example, suggests that the average household could save £147 a year by switching off so-called ‘vampire devices’, which drain power even on standby. These include TVs, games consoles, microwaves, washing machines and even phone chargers.

The new energy price guarantee (Opens in new window) may help many people, but energy looks to continue to be one of our highest outgoings for the foreseeable future.

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