by Kate Rolt.
It’s easy to get discombobulated these days with all the news of rising energy bills. Often apart from the expensive tactics of installing double glazing, thorough insulation and an overhaul of the inefficient heating system, there are lots of jobs that can be done cheaply and quickly to keep your house warm and your energy bills down. So as not to get overwhelmed with where to start in the house, go around each room and identify where your heat is going. Pick up your “stop the heat leaks” tactics sheet at Eco Hub Aber to fill in with some of these suggestions to help keep your home cosy.
Watch out for mini drafts. “a lot of drafts whistles through the letterbox and it’s worthwhile putting an extra barrier there in the form of a “brush,” keyholes, can be protected with “simple circular (keyhole covers) that slip over the top, it’s amazing the difference blocking even the smallest of holes can make. Thick curtains at doors can be an additional barrier to the cold.
DIY drafts excluders “sausage dog” – get creative! Drafts excluders that rest at the bottom of doors, stopping heat escaping through the gap between door and floor can be made from cutting an old pair of tights and stuffing them with unloved socks or pants. They can be made as fancy as you wish!
Insulate the walls. Whether you have cavity walls or solid walls, both types can be insulated to help ensure that heat is retained. Especially in alcoves on outside walls. This can be detected using our thermal imaging camera. You may lose 8cm but it could be worth it. Baton a frame to the wall, attach insulation between, then cover with plasterboard. A new warm wall 😊
The place we often spend the most time. Keeping the heat in will keep it toasty.
WINDOWS Curtains. Protect your house from losing heat through the windows. Curtains with a thermal lining or fleece is a relatively cheap option. Let the free sunlight heat in through the day and close them as soon as dusk falls. There’s a special film that you can put across [single-glazed] windows instead of expensive double glazing, the film is attached to the window frame using double-sided tape and then fix using a hairdryer.
Self-adhesive foam strips can help seal any gaps at the edge of windows. Metal or plastic strips with brushes or wipers attached cost a bit more but will last longer.
Putting a shelf above the radiator, especially if you have high ceilings, can also help channel the warmth. “You can put a shelf above it to stop the hot air rising directly above it.” This is particularly the case if the radiator is below a window with curtains, where warm air would be trapped between the window and the curtain.
Use tin foil. One way to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators, particularly on those attached to external walls. Bleed your radiators to remove the trapped air that stops them from working as efficiently as they should be. Turn off heating in empty rooms by using the valves on radiators. Try and avoid placing large pieces of furniture in front of them.
CHIMNEYS If you’re not using, then a chimney balloon for £23 can stop the heat disappearing up yours. Inflated until it completely shuts out any incoming cold air or escaping heat. There’s also an old pillow if strapped for cash!
STANDBY Switching off and unplugging gadgets and chargers that you are not using can save money. It might only cost a few pence to leave a TV on standby for eight hours, but across lots of devices over time, that will add up. Some games consoles can be particularly power-hungry on standby.
The kitchen is where the most energy is used on a regular basis, there’s alsorts you can do to limit the amount of energy you use.
Move your fridge. Keep it away from heat sources, such as ovens, and try to keep it out of direct sunlight. Shift it forward so it’s not pressed against the wall, as this allows air to circulate more easily. Cleaning behind it also helps. Meanwhile, a well-stocked fridge is cheaper to run than an empty one. Repair refrigerator door seals to ensure warm air isn’t getting into the fridge. If it is, the fridge will need to work harder and use more electricity to keep the interior cold.
The microwave is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food – it’s quicker because it reaches higher temperatures, and its smaller size (as opposed to the oven) means its heat is more directly focused on the food.
- Slow cookers are also an energy-efficient cooking appliance, as well as being ideal for those who like to prep their food while they’re out or getting on with other things – they use little more energy than a traditional light bulb, making them a great, energy-efficient addition to any kitchen.
- Keep the oven door closed while you’re cooking. Each time you open the door, the oven loses up to 25 degrees of heat.
- Use glass or ceramic dishes instead of metal dishes and trays in the oven. Glass and ceramic materials retain heat better than metal, making them the most efficient to use in the oven.
- Inserting stainless steel skewers into things like baked potatoes and joints of meat can help to speed up their cooking time.
- If you have an electric hob, use flat-bottomed pans – the fuller contact the pan has with the ring, the more evenly the heat will spread through. Think about your pan material – copper-bottomed pans heat up quicker than stainless steel and cast-iron pans retain heat more efficiently.
- Make sure you clean heating rings regularly – any food that sticks to the ring will absorb heat, making it less efficient.
- If you wash up by hand, make sure you use a washing up bowl rather than wasting water as it’s running from the tap.
- Where possible, use a cold water wash or 30°C cycle.
- Wash clothes on the shortest practical cycle.
- If you use a tumble dryer have it in a warm room. It will take longer to heat up if kept in an outdoor shed.
Cover bare floorboards. Floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if they’re not insulated, according to the National Energy Foundation (NEF Those with wooden flooring have to deal with heat loss. Rugs and blankets can help mitigate this and have the added bonus of keeping your feet warm. if there are cracks or gaps in the flooring it’s a good idea to squirt some filler into them. “Floorboards and skirting boards can contract, expand or move slightly with everyday use, so you could use a silicon-based filler that can tolerate movement.
Your main concern in the bathroom should be the amount of water you use – if it’s hot, you’ll be using energy in heating it.
– A water-efficient shower head will cut down the amount of hot water you use.
– Turn the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face – it can waste more than six liters of water per minute while it’s running.
– Fix any leaks and drips which have the potential to waste a lot of water over an extended period of time.
– Try turning the pressure of your shower down a little. A high-pressure power shower can use more water than a bath.
Use energy-efficient lightbulbs like LEDs or compact fluorescents rather than the commonly-used incandescent types. LEDs in particular use a quarter of the energy of incandescents and can last up to 25 times longer. Regularly dust lights. If dust dims the brightness of the bulb, this could lead to you using lamps or other forms of lighting to brighten the room further, therefore using more energy.
-Turn the lights off when you leave a room – this is a significant source of energy wastage and could save you £20 per year.
-Arrange your room to let natural light in through the windows, and use mirrors to reflect that light to help keep rooms bright.
Clean dirty windows, both on the inside and outside – dirt can block up to 10% of natural sunlight, so give them a scrub!
– Insulating your whole house. DIY loft insulation. Rolls of foam insulation are cheap, three rolls of 8in deep foam should be enough to give most lofts an important layer of protection. Mineral wool (such as Rockwool or Rocksil), glass fibre and recycled paper products all work well, according to the NEF. NB wear a facemask, goggles and protective clothing if you do it yourself, and leave sufficient gaps around the eaves to avoid condensation, the NEF warns.
– Loft hatch Insulating it can be done with same self-adhesive strips as for window and doors. Check none of your roof tiles is loose or missing. If damaged water can get into your loft and as soon as the insulation gets wet it loses its efficiency,”
– Insulate your hot water pipes. Uninsulated water pipes prevent hot water from becoming hot quickly while the water’s running. Insulating the pipes will help prevent water wastage while you wait for the water to heat up.
–Turning your thermostat down by just a single degree can save you as much as £60 per year, and you probably won’t feel the difference.
– Buy a new boiler insulation jacket with a recommended thickness of 75mm to help keep your water hotter for longer and reduce your energy bills. A new one is easy to fit – the materials will only cost you about £25 and it could save upwards of £100-£150 a year.
– Opt for an electric lawnmower. Electric mowers are much less hassle to use than petrol-powered mowers and are obviously more energy-efficient as well – all you need is a charging point.
– check your gutters, Heat is lost more quickly through a damp wall than a dry one, so stand outside your home on a rainy day and check that water is discharging properly from gutters and downpipes, and not running down the walls. Clear your gutters and gullies of leaves and blockages.