31 Jan 2013

Posted by in Energy | 0 Comments

Ten home changes to help you save on fuel bills

The cost of domestic fuel bills is a major issue for many. It is not something you can control day-to-day like food shopping, so it can feel almost like the weather: just something that you have to put up with. However there are constructive steps you can take to cut fuel costs. Major projects like installing solar panels could be a good long-term bet, but they mean spending a lot of money at the start. However, there are still things that you can do to cut your bills.

Obviously, the most important step you can take, if you own your own home, is to make sure the home is properly insulated, both loft and walls, and that double glazing is installed to prevent all avoidable heat loss. But there are other little things you can do yourself to help cut your bills. A few are listed below. Some are just common-sense, but knowing that will not save you money, whereas acting on the knowledge will.

  1. Ensure that the heat from your radiators is heating the room not the wall, especially if they are on outside walls. You can fit tin-foil behind the radiators to reflect heat into the room. If they are on exterior walls, use reflective insulating foil designed for the purpose, which you can get from hardware shops. It can be fixed to the wall with double-sided tape. A heat-sensitive camera picture of a normal UK house with radiators on the outside walls shows how much heat-loss can be saved by this measure.
  2. Check windows and doors for cracks around the edges. Fill any gaps between the glass and frame with putty, and use filler to plug cracks between the frame and the wall. If you haven’t got double glazing, use plastic film stretched over the window and tightened by heating with a hair-drier to achieve the same effect as double-glazing. You can get this at any good hardware shop.
  3. Install draught excluders. Home-made ones like stuffed stockings are perfectly effective, though the front door should be fitted with a brush or rubber draught-excluder actually attached under or right around the door, as the home-made type can get kicked away.
  4. Make sure every window can be covered completely by a reasonably heavy curtain or blind. Make a habit of closing them all without exception every evening when it gets dark.
  5. Every night make sure you turn off at the socket any appliances which are on standby mode. That includes chargers, which use energy even when they are not working. Any device which shows a light of any kind when it has been turned off at its own switch is actually in standby mode and using electricity. If some of your sockets are inaccessible, connect them to extension leads with on/off switches which can be turned off instead.
  6. Don’t leave a room without checking you have switched everything off. The belief that it’s cheaper to leave them on is a myth. If you like listening to the radio as you go from room to room in the house doing little jobs, then invest in a decent wind-up radio and take it round with you, rather than leaving the kitchen radio on while you are in the sitting room on the basis you will be back ‘before long’.
  7. The really obvious tip is to wrap up warm. Wear a vest and leggings under your top layer in the winter and the thermostat can go down a degree or two, making a significant difference.
  8. Sort your laundry into things that really need to be washed at a hot temperature, and those that just need freshening up. Wash those at 30 degrees, which is perfectly adequate for most purposes.
  9. If you live in an older house with chimneys, stop heat from being lost that way by blocking them when they are not in use by buying a ‘chimney balloon’ or improvising your own. You could use an old cushion or duvet.
  10. Check the loft. It probably has insulation fitted between the joists, but is the entrance hatch itself insulated? A lot of heat can escape that way, so fit insulation to the top of the loft hatch.

If you adopt as many as you can of the above measures, then you will cut your utility bills appreciably, and the exercise itself could lead on to your discovering other ways your home could be more energy-efficient, if it is anything like the average UK home.

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