Nearly a third of UK’s energy is consumed at home and over two thirds of that is used in heating our rooms and hot water. Over half of that heat is lost, both at home and at work, because most of our building stock is old and leaky, and it can be saved with proper insulation.
The Energy Saving Trust has a list of items which can save energy- and therefore money- at home, like the following;
Remember to turn off when you are not using, like the computer and printer if not at night at least at the weekend. Turn off lights and heating when you are out and turn off Tv’s and chargers and don’t leave them on standby.
When you are washing, fill up the dishwasher before you run it, and the oven- orchestrate your cooking for minimum oven usage, fill the freezer, as cold produce keeps colder than air, fill the washup bowl rather than washing under a running hot tap.
Turn down your heating and wear an extra jumper or pashmina- they have no central heating at all in some parts of the world like China, South Africa and Australia, and wear anoraks indoors in winter! Turn down your washing machine temperature to 30 degrees which is actually kinder to many clothes
Use less shower water with a water saving shower head, change all your light bulbs to low energy and chose appliances that have the best energy rating- like induction hobs for cooking. Use the clothes drier less and let things air dry flat and you may not need to iron them either. Let the sunshine warm your home and have curtains open in the day and closed to keep the heat in at night, to use less heating.
Stop up the gaps that will be letting your heat waft outside directly through keyholes, letterboxes, chimneys, cracks around doors and windows, between skirtings and flooring.
Get controls to your heating which are smart- use heating zones for night or daytime heating, roomstats or radstats to adjust it locally, and smart apps which allow you to control your heating when you are out longer than you thought you might be.
Keep in that heat by insulating your home better- the loft insulation should be 270mm thick not just 100mm, the hot water cylinder should have a snug jacket, and other elements can be insulated, which may need professional technical input- a flat roof may have insulation installed quite simply on top, a ground floor may be insulated under or over it, outside walls may have insulation poured inside them if they are cavity walls, or installed on the outer or inner face, depending on planning constraints, and windows can be changed for double or triple glazing.
That’s the 50% savings, beyond there you can make your own heating energy in an existing house by installing a solar thermal panel on an unshaded flat roof or one within 30 degrees of south, or you can make electrical energy on a south facing roof, and get heat from the earth if you have a sizeable garden and are up for re-landscaping. You can also significantly reduce your carbon footprint with a biomass boiler.
These measures are getting more interesting as they eat into that second half of the energy bill, AND they can attract financial assistance and cash back from the government! A double saving.
You get money back quarterly over 7 years to cover the cost of installations which generate energy like this, and you can get a direct grant for 67% cost of solid wall insulation.
The next stage to NEGATE your energy bill altogether which can be done by starting over with a new house and aim for zero carbon, which is the national target for new build homes by 2020, only 6 years away. This will involve airtight construction, controlled ventilation, energy panels as a given, and can also include low maintenance friendly materials like insulation from hemp, sheep’s wool, recycled plastic or even pulped newspaper and body coloured lime render, durable timber, cork and rubber and so on which can give you a negative carbon footprint as a mini step towards reversing our C02 problems.
We are registered eco refurbishers and can advise on more detailed insulation and energy generation methods. We also have experience at designing new build eco and Passivhaus standard homes, so do get in touch if you have any queries about them, or to see more, return to IMAGOarchitects website.