Concern about the damage that carbon emissions are doing to the environment, along with rising energy prices, means that the time to look at saving energy at home is now.
Quick Solutions: Actions That Can Be Taken Straight Away.
When the weather turns colder, make sure that everyone in the house is dressed in warm clothes. Some households have a rule that the heating isn't put on until everyone is wearing a thick jumper and fleecy slippers. Close curtains when it is getting dark. If there are only thin curtains at the windows, consider lining them or replacing them with something heavier. Once the heating is being used, turning central heating down by a degree can make significant savings.
The temperature of water in the hot water system does not need to be more than 60° C. This is controlled by adjusting the thermostat on the hot water tank. Don't boil more water than needed to make drinks. If you have an electric kettle, remember that the element needs to be covered. Put a full load in the dish washer and washing machine and use quick washes for clothes that are not too dirty. Check the temperature that the washing machine is set at: many of today's washing powders will wash fabric clean at temperatures of 30° C.
Use LED Lights. They have high efficiency and will last for years. Switch off lighting and heating in rooms that aren't being used. Appliances such as televisions should be switched off, not left on standby, when not in use.
Longer Term Solutions: Insulation.
Being careful with energy use helps, but it will only have a limited value if a large amount of the heat is going out of the house due to poor insulation. Seeing where the vulnerable spots are is also necessary. There are grants available for installing some types of insulation.
The quickest and cheapest measure is to make sure that hot water tanks have sufficient insulation. After that, look at draft insulation around doors and windows. If there are any single glazed windows in the house, then replacing them with double glazed will also help. Find out how much insulation there is in the loft and look at increasing the depth. A level of ten inches is recommended. Insulation beneath timber floors can also cut down draughts, especially with a stripped wooden floor and no carpets.
When replacing appliances such as washing machines and cookers, choose those with a high energy saving rating. Replace old boilers with high efficiency condensing boilers and save energy. There are also grants available to help with the cost of this. Consideration could be given to installing solar panels. This is a much larger and costlier job, but may be justified over a longer period, in terms of carbon emissions saved and energy bills reduced.
The government funded Energy Saving Advice Service and the utility companies will help with information about energy saving, energy audits and with advice on where financial assistance may be obtained. It is in everyone's interests for us all to look at ways of saving energy.
This article was contributed by Lloyd, a freelance writer and blogger, on behalf of MHA Lighting – producing energy efficient LED Lighting.