We actually wrote a blog post earlier in the year on some simple lifestyle changes that you can make to save energy. However, in this post we are going to explore in greater detail some of the structural changes that you can make to keep your house or flat warm and your energy bills down while the weather gets colder.
If you’re worried about your energy bills this winter and want to be kinder to the environment, now is the perfect time to start planning how to make your home more energy efficient. There are many small changes which can have a big impact on your energy usage, therefore by thinking ahead now, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint in the process. So, if you’re ready to embrace the impending crisper weather, read on for our expert advice on how you can make your home more energy efficient this autumn or winter…
Use a Smart Meter to Measure Appliance Energy Usage
A smart meter is a type of device that measures the amount of electricity you use. It’s important to check your electricity meter regularly, as it’s the only way to know how much electricity your household is using. A smart meter has two main benefits: you can see how much electricity you’re using in real time, plus you can get a breakdown of your energy usage by different appliances. They can therefore help you decide if you want to upgrade your kettle or fridge, or use certain appliances less frequently, for example.
Just by seeing how much energy you are using can really change the way you behave in your own home. It may encourage you to turn off lights and to put on another layer of clothing instead of turning on the heating.
By monitoring your electricity usage regularly, you can identify ways to reduce your energy usage and bills, which will also help to protect the environment. Depending on your energy provider, a smart meter can cost around £50 to install, and from there, your energy supplier will charge you a monthly fee for reading and managing the data. Some energy providers install them for free with no ongoing costs! If you’re on a standard tariff, you can get a smart meter for free, but if you’re on a cheaper tariff you may have to pay for it. Make sure to compare electricity tariffs to see if there’s one which better meets your needs.
Use LED Lighting
If you have old incandescent bulbs dotted around your home, it’s time to replace them with LED bulbs. LED bulbs use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs, so they’re a great way to reduce your energy usage. LED bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs too, so they’re a worthwhile investment. Before you stock up on new bulbs, make sure you check the wattage of your current bulbs. If they are too high, they will draw too much electricity and cause your bills to rise. If you’re purchasing new bulbs, don’t just buy the cheapest ones you can find. Instead, buy the best quality bulbs that you can afford. Cheaper bulbs often have a shorter lifespan, which means you have to replace them more often.
Some other benefits of LED lighting is that they don’t get hot while in operation and also can come in any colour temperature you like, for example, warm lighting may seem more yellow than a cold light, which appears more white. This means that you can get LED lighting to suit the mood of whichever room you are in.
Check Your Boiler
If you have an older boiler, it’s a good idea to have it serviced before the winter kicks in. A boiler is a big part of your home’s energy system, so if there are any issues with it, it can not only cause you discomfort but also lead to higher energy bills. Having your boiler serviced once a year will help to identify any issues as early as possible, so they can be fixed before they cause damage and become more costly to fix. If you are on a low income, you can apply for grants and funds to help you replace your boiler. You can do this by checking your eligibility on the Government website here.
If you need a new boiler, to guarantee that your new boiler will get breakdown cover from the manufacturer, it will likely have to be installed by one of their professional or recommended engineers. If you do choose to install your boiler yourself, more often than not, you risk breaching the manufacturer’s warranty.
While a new boiler can be expensive, it is a good investment in the long term. It will keep your energy bills down while warming your home quicker than an old boiler.
Check Your Insulation
It’s important to regularly check the insulation in your home. If it’s old and in poor condition, it may be letting in draughts of cold air, making your home less energy efficient. It may also need replacing, as modern insulation materials are more efficient at retaining heat in your home. If you’re not sure if your insulation is in good condition, there are a few ways you can check. First, take a look in the loft and see if there are any gaps in the insulation. If you see any gaps, they need to be plugged. You can also listen for any sounds that may indicate there are issues with your insulation, such as squeaking or flapping noises. If your insulation is in poor condition, you can either have it repaired or replaced. It’s often cheaper to just have it repaired, but it depends on the condition of your insulation.
Double Glazed Windows
Installing double-glazed windows can make your home more energy efficient and are beneficial in several ways. Firstly, it helps to reduce the amount of noise from the outside that gets into your home. It also keeps warm air in and cold air out during the winter months. Double glazing can reduce your energy usage by 10-25%, so it’s definitely worth the investment.
There are two types of double glazing available. The first is where two layers of glass are sandwiched together, and the second is where an insulated panel is put between two pieces of glass. The first option is cheaper, but the second option is more durable and long-lasting. A professional installer will be able to provide you with a FENSA certificate as a guarantee, meaning you are covered for any issues and legally compliant when you come to sell your home.
Seal Up Draughts
If you’ve checked your insulation, and you’re still noticing a drop in temperature, it may be that there are draughts in your home. Draughts are a major source of heat loss, so they can make your home less energy efficient. There are many ways to seal up draughts, such as applying weather stripping to doors and windows, adding extra layers to walls, and filling gaps in skirtings or walls. It’s important to seal up as many draughts as possible, as every bit of heat lost through them drives up your energy usage.
Chimneys also let in a lot of cold air. Acting as an escape for hot air that rises and cold air from outside to drift down it. You may consider sealing up your chimney, this is of course if you don’t use your fireplace over the autumn and winter periods. If you do plan to use your chimney during the colder months, then you can seal up your chimney with a chimney cap which will stop any cold air from entering your home and also keep out rainwater. A chimney cap is a quick, easy and cheap way to reduce energy bills and keep your home warmer during the cold months. Most chimney caps are made from metal and come in a range of colours, so you can easily find one to match your house’s exterior.
Before we get into the benefits of solar panels, it is worth noting that this solution is more long-term than short, and won’t necessarily save you loads of money over the darker months. Where solar panels will start paying for themselves is over the summer months, however, having them installed before the winter could mean you get the full benefits the following year, as they will be easier to install in the autumn than in the winter due to the weather.
Solar panels are a great way to make your home more energy efficient. You may feel as though you don’t have the space for them, but the good news is that there are other ways to use solar power to make your home greener. For example, you could install a solar-powered water heater. Solar-powered water heaters use solar power during the day to heat water in your home. This helps to reduce the amount of energy your water heater uses, which in turn reduces your energy usage and carbon footprint. There are many other ways to use solar power to make your home greener, so it’s worth researching them to find out if they are right for you.
Solar panels are quite an expensive option, however, they are a solid investment that will save you money in the long term. Installing solar panels isn’t just a one-off investment either. They produce clean, renewable energy for decades, which will reduce your energy usage even further.
Energy Performance Certificates
An EPC is required when you sell or rent a property and needs to be provided to prospective tenants and buyers. At Bourne we can help our sellers and landlords to arrange a certificate ahead of marketing their property and can advise on potential energy efficient upgrades. Improvements to ratings can range from larger projects such as double glazing, through to simpler steps such as ensuring the right level of loft insulation is in place or adding a suitable insulation jacket to a hot water tank. The more energy efficient your home, the higher rating you will receive on the certificate and therefore the potential attractiveness to future buyer or tenants.
Landlords currently need their rental properties to have a minimum rating of E to let their property, with a proposed change in legislation to grade C by 2025. At Bourne, we have supported many of our landlords by arranging works on their behalf to upgrade their ECPs to Grade E and are in the process of supporting other landlords with works on other improvements, to be ready in advance of further legislative changes.
Making your home more energy efficient is not only good for your bank balance, but it can also help the environment, plus make your property more attractive to prospective buyers or tenants.
If you would like to discuss how the energy performance of your property can affect the value of your home, or any other aspect of selling or lettings, contact your local Bourne branch for a free, no-obligation chat.
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