With many of us still working from home as England embarks on a second lockdown, we’re all trying to find ways to make our homes more energy-efficient. Spending more time in the house during the colder months means that heating bills are likely to rise as we consume more gas and electricity.
Saving money is a one reason for creating an energy-efficient home, but if you are also keen to cut your carbon footprint, now is a great time to make some small changes to your habits that all add up to make a big difference. Here’s a few tips to keep your bills and energy consumption low this winter:
Turn down your thermostat
It may seem obvious but by turning down the thermostat by just 1 degree the average home can save around £85 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Most of us won’t notice the slight drop in temperature and can reap the rewards of the savings. It’s important to remember that homes with elderly or vulnerable residents should not allow the temperature to drop below 16 degrees.
In order to function efficiently, room thermostats need to be placed where there is a flow of air so they can read the temperature accurately. If your thermostat is covered by curtains or near an electric fire or lamp, it could stop them from working effectively.
Keeping your heating on constantly at a consistently low temperature can also help to save energy. By switching the heating on and off your boiler uses more energy to boost the temperature after being cold, and then wastes the heat as it cools again.
Give your washing machine a workout
If you are not making your washing machine work hard, you’re losing money. Try to wash clothing at 30 degrees, as roughly 90% of the energy used by a washer is in heating the water.
One of the perks of working from home is the thought of keeping on top of the laundry by washing a few items at a time. But if you are going to load the washer between Zoom calls, then make sure you fill it up! Don’t waste energy on half-loads, it’s much more economical to do fewer washes with a full machine. Even if it means venturing into your teenager’s bedroom in a bid to find those elusive stray socks.
If you have a dishwasher, the same theory applies – make sure it’s fully loaded before you switch it on.
Reduce water waste
Working from home means we probably have more cups of tea or coffee than we would in the office. So, when boiling the kettle, remember to only fill the kettle with the water you need. Filling it to the max is a waste of water and energy. It’s small thing, but over time these saving can make a big difference.
A deep bath is very tempting at the end of a busy day—even more so as the cold nights draw in. But if you are looking to make energy savings then a shower is the better option. It takes between 35 to 50 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, and a ten-minute shower uses roughly 25 gallons. If you turn off the shower while you shampoo your hair and lather up, you’ll save even more.
If you have a power shower it can actually use more water than a bath, so swap your high-pressure showerhead for an eco-alternative which restricts the flow and reduces water consumption.
After using the oven leave the door open to allow the heat into the room. If you shut the heat in the oven, all that warm air will be extracted and wasted.
We’d also recommend keeping your fridge full, as an empty fridge wastes more energy than a full one. This is because a fridge has to work harder to keep everything cool if there is less food in it. It also gives you the perfect excuse to stock up on goodies to keep your fridge working efficiently!
Leaving appliances such as microwaves, ovens and dishwashers on standby will all eat electricity. Get into the habit of switching them off at the socket when not in use, to make small savings that all add up.
Draught proof your home
Draught proofing your home is a simple and cost-effective way to stop heat escaping from your home. Check the gaps around your doors, windows and loft hatch and insulate then with draught excluding tape to keep rooms warmer.
You should also look out for other areas that cause draughts, such as between floorboards and skirting or around pipework and plug those gaps with flexible silicon sealant to prevent heat loss and reduce your bills. Remember to use a flexible sealant which allows the pipes to expand and contract as they heat up and cool down.
Make your home that little bit smarter
Smart thermostats provide the technology to connect your heating system to the internet. This gives you total control, via an app, to change the temperature or switch your heating on and off—even when you are not at home. Some apps, such as Hive, can be controlled by your voice making it easy and convenient to use on the go.
Smart lighting technology can also help to save on your utility bills—you can turn off the lights from your phone, which is especially handy when your children leave the house with all the lights glaring away! Smart lighting can also make your home more secure, as the lights can be switched on and off when you are away from home, so it’s looks like someone is there.