Posts tagged: insulation
Winter is well and truly upon us, and as the weather’s got colder, many of us have turned the heating on already – and probably won’t be turning the thermostat down until after February!
Although energy prices are falling, the average family still spends over £1000 a year on gas and electricity, which is no small sum.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to cut your energy costs without shivering all winter. If you want to keep warm without breaking the bank, here are five top tips.
Maximise your radiators
How many of us have our sofa up against the radiator in the living room? It might be keeping the back of your sofa toasty warm, but the heat won’t get much further than that. Moving furniture away from the radiators, even just a few inches, lets the heat circulate through the room and warm it properly, as well as saving on damage to your furniture.
To make your radiators work even harder, consider investing in radiator panels; reflective panels you put behind a radiator to reflect more heat into the room – these really do make a difference: using them on every radiator in your house can cut your heating bills by as much as 15%! And if you don’t fancy buying them, you can achieve a similar effect by lining the wall behind your radiators with tin-foil.
Stop losing heat
You may already use draught excluders to keep heat from escaping under doors, but what about your windows? Even with double glazing, thin curtains or blinds can let heat out. Consider replacing yours with a heavier option to keep the warmth in the room, or line them with a thermal lining – a cheap fleece material will do.
And curtains aren’t just for windows! Try placing them over external doors for extra draught exclusion, as well as a bit of interior design flair. However, don’t keep curtains or blinds drawn in the day, as sunlight will warm your rooms up naturally.
Don’t heat what you don’t need
If you have a spare bedroom or second bathroom that’s rarely used, turn radiators off in those rooms, and shut the doors to them so that heat from the rest of the house doesn’t escape into them either. It might be unpleasant if you have to nip in to find something, but it’ll be worth it for the savings!
Additionally, if you have radiators in the halls or corridors of your home, these can be turned down slightly – if not shut off altogether – as you’ll only ever be passing through them for a couple of minutes at a time.
Professional home insulation can be costly, but DIY loft insulation is relatively cheap and simple. Foam insulation is cheap, and three 8inch rolls should be enough to give most lofts a decent layer of insulation. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you start, and wear protective clothing and goggles to stay safe, though.
Another part of your house to insulate is the hot water tank and pipes. You can buy a jacket for the tank and foam tubes for the pipes, both of which are easy to fit, and will keep the heat inside the pipes – so it heats the water, not your airing cupboard.
It’s all about timing
It’s a basic tip, but putting the thermostat on a timer is a great way to make sure you’re only heating the house when it’s needed. Set the timer for 20 minutes before you wake up and 20 minutes before you get home from work, and you’ll feel toasty 24/7 without having to think about it.
Additionally, try to keep the heat setting at 18C – this is the temperature that most of us should feel warm in a jumper and jeans, and ensuring your heating doesn’t go above this temperature often will save you cash. If it seems too cold at first, try bringing the temperature down 1 degree every few days until you’re acclimatised.
Liberty is writing on behalf of Lifestyle Blinds.
Now the weather has turned cold in the UK, our thoughts have turned to how we can keep warm – indoors as well as outdoors. For many of us that simply means turning up the thermostat another notch. But with reports of fuel price hikes of 7% and higher imminent, suddenly energy efficiency has become an even hotter topic.
Starting with our existing homes, the key word is insulation. The idea is to keep the heat in and the cold out. 25% goes out the roof – so lay up to 270mm of insulation; 35% escapes through the walls. Combat this by having cavity wall insulation. If you have one of the 6 million solid brick wall homes, consider dry wall lining.
Windows and draughts account for 25% of heat loss in our homes. So plug the gaps with filler, use draught excluders on your exterior doors (and don’t forget the letter box). If you can afford it, think about double (or even triple) glazing. If that’s too costly, secondary glazing is a cheaper alternative.
Next, find out how much electricity you use (or waste). Buy, or rent from your local library, an electricity monitor. These clever gadgets show you how much electricity you are using in the home. Flick the kettle on and you’ll see it costs a shocking 25p to boil water if it was to be left on continuously for one hour. So fill the kettle only with the amount of water you need and don’t boil, walk away and then have to reboil.
Look at what you leave on standby overnight – do you need to? Get a standby isolator or switch the items off at the wall (except the Sky box, which would then need reprogramming). Don’t leave old style mobiles charging overnight as these ‘vampire’ gadgets continue to suck electricity even once the battery is fully charged.
Or take a look at a more permanent electricity reduction solution. The VPhase is a new device that through independent testing has been shown to cut electricity bills (typically by 10%), reduce energy use and lower carbon emissions. Find out how much money and CO2 you could save with the interactive tool at www.vphase.co.uk
VPhase uses voltage optimisation technology to reduce and manage the voltage coming into your home, making your electrical appliances use less electricity and cost less to run. Unlike smart meters which require a change in behavior, the VPhase device works immediately, without any need for a change in lifestyle.
The unit costs around £250 installed when fitted at the same time as a fuse box, and can be quickly and easily fitted by a qualified electrician. The VPhase has a five-year warranty and with payback periods typically less than this it represents a risk free green investment.
If you’re considering buying a new house in the UK, you’ll find that they are at least 25% more energy efficient than houses build pre-2006 (and at least 50% more than a Victorian property and probably more) through legislation. Housebuilders are achieving such greater efficiency by using better insulants when building,
sealing gaps better and by preventing thermal ‘bridging’, which allows the cold to travel from the outside in via metal pins or ties.
In some cases, the net result is homes that require little or no heating – even in winter. The latest built homes don’t even have radiators installed. Generally, energy efficient under-floor heating provides what heating they do require. In other examples, mechanical heat ventilation recovery units recirculate rising hot air to keep the homes warm at ground level.
In more temperate foreign countries, where many Britons choose to buy a holiday home, or retirement property, the same technology that provides heating in winter is reversed to provide air-conditioned cooling in summer. If the electricity required is generated from a renewable energy source, such as solar, there is no in-use CO2 impact, and electricity bills can be negligible.
The housebuilders and developers who are the members of Sustain Worldwide (www.sustainworldwide.com) are each building homes, resorts and communities around the world where energy efficient, eco-friendly and sustainably constructed properties and communities are the norm.
Sustain Worldwide Chief Executive Anwar Harland-Khan said: “The energy-efficient homes of today are stylish, beautifully finished, invariably with warm and light spaces for living. It comes as no surprise that sustainably built homes are now standing tallest of all, while the walls of conventionally built homes are starting to show cracks.”
This article was contributed by Gordon Miller, sustainability and communications director of Sustain Worldwide. +44 (0)20 7754 5557 www.sustainworldwide.com/