5 Simple Steps For Running An Energy Efficient Home

With energy prices on the rise the need to run an energy efficient home has never been greater.  In addition to doing your bit for the environment, you can also save some money in these economically challenging times.  Here are a few steps that you can take to achieve your goal.

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Photo: GoboNdc

Creating your own energy
The best and perhaps most obvious way of running an energy efficient home is to look at ways to create your own energy.  Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular, with many UK residents taking advantage of current government schemes.  This incorporates a Feed In Tariff (FITs), which allow the homeowner to sell back any unused electricity to the grid.  Whilst the average installation of solar panel system will cost in the region of £10,000; the savings made in the coming years will more than cover the costs.  It is also possible to use solar panels to heat the water in your central heating system.

Wind turbines are also a great way of harnessing free and clean energy, with FITs again available so that you can earn on any additional electricity produced.  Where a home isn’t connected to the national grid it is even possible to store energy for calmer days, when there is no wind.  Installation costs can vary greatly dependant on the size of the turbine and whether it is mounted in the building or a pole.

In addition to the more common renewable energy sources that are available, there are also a few not so well known:

  • Hydroelectricity
  • Wood fuelled heating
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Air source heat pumps
  • Micro combined heat and power

Suitability of such systems varies greatly dependant on each individual property.  Visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk for a more in depth look at these options.

Window insulation
Heating a property can be a costly exercise and especially so if a lot of heat is escaping through windows.  Installing double glazing in the average home will usually result in a saving of around £165 per year on energy bills.  Whilst it may take a few years for double glazing to pay for itself, installation will increase the value of your property and you will of course by doing your bit for the environment.

Even if you have double glazing installed, you will still lose some heat through them.  This can be further reduced by properly insulating the window area through the use of thicker curtains, shutters and even sealed blinds.  All of these additions to window areas will also serve to increase comfort through the reduction of draughts and also noise pollution.

Considering kitchen appliances
Over the last few years manufacturers have made great strides in producing more energy efficient kitchen appliances.  In the past you would have to pay a premium for greener models, but it is now possible to buy cheap fridge freezers, electric cookers and laundry machines that deliver the same level of performance.  Some models are now so efficient that they use only the same amount of energy as a 60W light bulb.

Such advancements have meant that the rating system used to classify appliances has had to be adapted, with the very best being awarded ‘A+++’ rating.  Whilst it may initially seem drastic replacing your appliances simply to reduce energy consumption, the amount of money you can save on bills will pay for your new cooker or fridge freezer.  This is especially the case if you have appliances that are more than 10 years old, which take significantly more energy to run than newer models.  The kitchen accounts for around 40% of all energy consumed in the average home, so you really should look to make changes as and when possible.

Bulbs
Many people still use traditional light bulbs, even though there are more economical options available.  One reason that is often cited for not switching to energy saving bulbs is that they take a long time to warm up and provide sufficient light.  LED bulbs offer immediate illumination, but the blue light isn’t to everyone’s taste.  However, options in ‘warm white’ were introduced on the market in recent years, which provide cheap lighting, without sacrificing the ambiance of your home.

Monitoring systems      
Our final advice on achieving an energy efficient home is to fit a monitoring device that lets you track your electricity usage.  Many providers now run schemes aimed at helping you reduce your energy costs.  This will usually include a free monitor, which will let you know in real time where in the home electricity is being used.  Having such a device where it is easily accessible provides a great way of understanding your electricity consumption and also acts as a prompt to remind you turn off electrical items.

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