When thinking about how to save energy in your home, heating may well be one of the first things you think of. Heating our homes and places of work accounts for around a fifth of the UK’s total emissions so finding ways to be as efficient as possible is a great way to tackle climate change.
When thinking about the way you heat your home it’s important to not only think of how you produce heat in the first place, but also how you keep the heat inside your home. See how we break it down below.
Having an efficient heat source is great for keeping energy usage down in your home, more importantly though is ensuring that the heat isn’t escaping. Keeping heat in the home means you will need a smaller amount of heat to warm up the home in the first place, saving you money over the course of a year.
Heating a home becomes a lot more expensive and inefficient when most of the heat is escaping through the roof, windows or walls. Here are some of the ways you can stop heat escaping:
Around a quarter of heat in a house is lost through the loft due to the way that heat rises. If your loft is unused, or just a storage space, fitting insulation is a great way to save this heat from escaping. Installing loft insulation is relatively inexpensive and can save you hundreds of pounds per year, as well as saving hundreds of kilograms of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
Similarly, wall insulation helps to save energy from escaping through the walls of your home. The most common form of wall insulation is cavity wall insulation, which involves filling the cavity with insulation to trap heat. The materials used for cavity wall insulation vary from foam to polystyrene beads to glass and mineral wool, however they all work in a similar way.
For solid walls, internal or external insulation is available, which involves fixing a layer of insulation to the inside or outside walls to save heat from escaping. This is typically a more expensive option for installation, but will save money and reduce CO2 each year.
Double or triple glazing
Draughty windows provide an easy escape for heat. While newer homes and renovations typically come with double glazing as standard, some older homes still have single glazed windows which can be leaky or draughty due to their age. Some suppliers even produce triple glazed windows which can save energy even better than double glazed. Costs can vary depending on the size and type of window you need, but upgrading your windows can be another great way of saving money and heat over years of use.
Inefficient heating systems are the main causes of higher heating and energy bills in households, with heating energy accounting for around 50% of all the energy used in the home. While radiators are the most common, take a look at some of the other options that are available:
Underfloor heating has evolved to become incredibly versatile, with options available throughout the whole house, rather than just a single room as some may be used to. Underfloor heating offers many benefits over traditional radiators and is suitable for a wide variety of floor types.
Underfloor heating works out around 25% more efficient than radiators, and can even be as much as 40% more energy- efficient when paired with a heat pump. It’s no surprise that many eco-building projects look to underfloor heating and heat pumps as the primary heat source. Like with any heating system, having the right amount of insulation when fitting wet underfloor heating is key to getting the most out of your underfloor heating system.
Find out more about what underfloor heating types are available, and how Nu-Heat can help you decide on what option is right for you.
Heat pumps are possibly the most efficient and eco-friendly ways to heat a home. They work by extracting heat from the air or ground, converting it into heating for your home and hot water. Where gas boilers operate at around 92% efficiency, heat pumps can reach up to 400% which can means lower running costs and lower emissions all-round.
The upfront costs of heat pumps can be off-putting for some, but there are financial incentives available to help cover the cost. Heat pumps will be vital for the future of homes as part of the Government’s ‘green revolution’, and provide a huge benefit to homes.
Solar thermal panels are an effective way to provide your hot water whilst saving energy. They convert energy from the sun into heat by warming fluid within the panels. Solar thermal panels can produce up to 60% of your home’s annual hot water, and up to 100% in the summer months. Not only does this help you to save energy but it can also lower your energy bills.
Solar thermal panels are a great choice for those who are not looking to undertake a large renovation job. Minimal upheaval is required for installation and initial costs tend to be affordable. Solar thermal panels also qualify for government schemes such as the RHI.
Tips to save extra heat energy in your home
Master your thermostat and heating controls
Use a timer to ensure your heating only comes on when you need it, and so it only stays on just as long as you need. Some smart thermostats can be controlled remotely using your smartphone, so if you end up not being at home when your heating is planned to come on, you can switch it off, saving you energy and money in the long run. Taking the time to learn how your heating system works, how long it takes to reach certain temperatures and how you can control it using a thermostat can pay off.
Reduce the maximum temperature
During cold weather it feels like you might need to crank the heating up to compensate for frozen fingers and toes when you’ve been out and about, however think twice before you set the temperature to the max. Knocking the temperature of your heating down by just 1°C could cut up to 10% off your energy use per year, and you are unlikely to notice the difference!
Heating room by room
If you typically spend a certain time of day, such as the evening, in only one room of your house then it is best to selectively heat that one specific room to a comfortable temperature. Keeping doors to unused rooms closed helps to keep heat in, adding another way of insulating and reducing draughts throughout the house.
With the popularity of ‘smart’ devices and electronics in everyday life, it can be easy to overlook how much energy we use. However, saving energy can be simple in the home with just a few simple steps:
Check your standby devices
Many devices have standby modes which aim to save energy when the device isn’t being used. This can be useful for short time periods in between use however if you don’t plan on using your device for a while, it is always best to switch your devices fully off when not in use to save the most energy. Charges for electronic devices such as smart phones and laptops use energy even when not in use, if your laptop or smart phone is fully charged then unplug the charger until it is ready for a charge again to save energy in between uses.
Avoid energy intensive items
White goods and household appliances come with energy ratings from G to A+++ and while the upfront cost of the more efficient appliances may be slightly higher, they use less energy to run which means lower costs. An A+++ fridge costs a third of what a B rated fridge costs to run per year, for example.
Little changes can mean big differences
Making little changes around the house may not make a huge impact on their own but can add up when used together, for example: washing clothes at 30 degrees rather than 40, switching appliances off at the plug when not in use and switching light bulbs from filament to LED all can save energy and money per year.
Saving water in the home can be simple. Think about the places where you use the most water in your house, where the majority of it ends up not being used and going straight down the drain. Using less hot water in the bathroom has the double benefit of saving water and heat simultaneously, thus saving you more money.
Fill up your dishwasher and washing machine
It might be obvious but is often overlooked, using dishwashers and washing machines regularly on half loads uses more energy and water than if they were on full wash cycles. If you have a small amount of dishes after a meal, consider hand washing. For clothes, try to wait until you can fill your washing machine to maximise on efficiency.
Install water efficient systems in your bathroom
Installing a low-flush toilet helps you from flushing unnecessary water, and money, away every time you use the toilet. Low-flush toilets use around 50% less water over the course of their lifetime, which is a substantial reduction. Similarly, low-flow or regulated flow taps and shower heads can help save hot water when you wash, saving you heat energy and water at the same time.
If you’re ready to make the change to becoming more energy efficient in your home and want to make the change towards renewable and low temperature heating, get in touch to see how we can help.