With gas and electricity prices rising every winter, many homeowners are worrying about the cost of their utilities in the current climate. Numerous consumer surveys have found that some Brits are being forced to leave heating off despite the cold, as prices are just unaffordable.
Yet while there is little you can do about the cost of gas or electricity, you can reduce the amount you pay by using less of it – and this doesn’t have to mean living in a freezing cold house. There are a variety of measures you can take to make your home more efficient, from simple steps to big changes, all of which will take a bite out of your energy bills.
Estimates put the amount of heat lost through an un-insulated roof at between 20 and 30 per cent of all that is produced in the typical home. Insulating your loft is easy, cheap, and makes a big difference. A similar amount of heat is lost through the walls, but cavity wall insulation is a bigger job and requires getting in an expert, so will cost more.
Single-pane windows – especially those in old, draughty wooden frames – do not retain heat well. The more you lose the harder your heating system has to work to keep the house warm, so while replacing old glass with double-glazed UPVC units involves a fairly significant up-front cost, you make this money back and more throughout their lifetime. Also, remember that potential buyers will be attracted by the heat-saving ability and added security that comes with double glazing.
Even with double glazing, however, windows will still be a weak point for heat loss, so think about how you can use your window dressings to retain heat. Many people use thick curtains, but think about blinds; a good fitted set of wooden blinds can provide extra insulation while allowing you to regulate the temperature of your home more easily in summer.
Change of habit
Many people don’t realise that small changes to behaviour can make a big difference to energy usage. Be more active with the radiator dials – you only want to be heating the rooms you are using, so turn the radiators up when you need them and keep internal doors shut, to stop heat dissipating throughout the house. Also, be more careful about turning off electronic devices at the socket rather than leaving them on standby; this may not sound like much but times this by the number of appliances you have and it will really make a difference over a year.