Saving energy in the home
There are lots of ways to save energy in the home both from the use of electricity and from heating. Normally the actions can be described under three headings which are progressively more complicated and expensive to implement.
1. actions that require changes in behaviour or lifestyle to reduce consumption and cost nothing - such as switching off unused appliances and lights.
2. actions that use energy more efficiently and may require a modest outlay - such as insulating the loft or a cavity wall.
3. actions that lead to the generation of energy at home which are likely to be more expensive still - such as installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof. See links below.
I'll consider electricity and heating separately.
Almost a quarter of household emissions in the UK come from using electricity. Savings can be made from our use of lighting, computers, fridges and freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers, cooking and outdoor appliances.
Some suggestions about using appliances more efficiently, taken from my book, are given in the panel opposite.
Saving heating fuel.
Anything that improves the insulation of a home and cuts down draughts will help to reduce heating fuel bills. At the same time it is possible to feel warmer, without raising the temperature, simply by wearing more suitable clothing, and more layers of clothing, indoors. If you have a central heating boiler it is also very important to understand how it is programmed (essentially how the timer clock works), how the other controls work and how the boiler generates hot water. My book explains this in great detail as a short sample illustrates in the opposite panel.
Above photo was taken with a FLIR infrared camera
"Appliances, including white goods and computers, that are designed for the same job can differ widely in their energy consumption. When replacing a broken or worn out appliance, including buying a new one, look for the EU energy label (rated A to D) and buy the most efficient model that you can afford (typically A+ to A+++). It is worth remembering that a large efficient fridge, for example, could use more energy than a smaller less efficient one. Some models of white goods provide estimates of their energy usage in a year. Office equipment should display the Energy Star label. Other labels to look out for are the Energy Saving Trust Recommended and the European Ecolabel."
Central heating system
"Any central heating system, whether fuelled by gas, oil or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), should have at least a boiler thermostat, a room thermostat that monitors the temperature inside the home and can control the boiler, a programmer or timer (for non-combi boilers), and thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on the radiators. A radiator in the same space as the room thermostat should never have a TRV fitted. This is because if the TRV senses that it has reached its set point before the room thermostat has reached its own set-point it will switch off the radiator and prevent the room thermostat from ever reaching the temperature to which it has been set (the set point); the boiler will ‘hunt’ On and Off as it unsuccessfully tries to reach the required temperature."