According to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, ‘except for a slight decrease in bills in 2010, average domestic bills have consistently risen since 2007.’ The Office for National Statistics also indicates that there was a significant ‘55% increase in average household spending on energy between 2002 and 2012.’ It’s expected that this will keep rising – putting a continual strain on our wallets, and stress on our minds.
As a result, we’re becoming more interested than ever to learn about the innovative ways we can reduce our energy consumption. By embracing renewable energy solutions, we can not only cut our energy bills, but also protect the world we live in by decreasing our carbon footprints. Making us responsible as well as financially savvy.
We’ve looked into a wide range of energy saving technologies, designed to make your house more sustainable. Indications of the costs and potential savings of each will help you to decide which are the most suitable for you. Aviva also got in touch with a range of energy experts, who have shared their top tips to help you save energy around the home. The benefits of many are a no-brainer.
- Energy efficient light bulbs
- Double glazing
- Dual flush toilet
- Water-saving showerhead
- Loft insulation
- Cavity wall insulation
- Draught Proofing
- Smart thermostat
- Rainwater harvesting system
- Solar panels
1. Energy efficient light bulbs
Why? The Energy Saving Trust reveal that in the average house, lighting accounts for around 18% of your electricity bill. Old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs are very inefficient as they waste energy through heat.
How do CFLs work? CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lamps) are a type of energy efficient light bulb, and Which report that they use about 60-80% less energy than an incandescent. They also have a lifetime of about 10,000 hours, which is approximately 10 years. In CFLs, electricity runs through a tube containing a vapour which produces an ultraviolet light. This stimulates a florescent coating inside the tube which then glows and emits a visible light.
Cost: £42 (14 light bulbs)
Annual savings: £84 (14 light bulbs)
Energy saving tip: An energy saving expert at E.ON recommends that when looking ‘to make a reduction in your electricity costs, always turn off lights when you're not using them, regardless of how soon you'll need them again. Once you get into the habit, turning off unused lights is effortless. To help you get there, try leaving eye-catching reminders next to your light switches and doorways. Get other household members involved too. Even young children can help save energy by turning lights off.’
2. Double glazing
Why? You can lose up to 20% of your home’s heat through windows, according to the National Insulation Association, so installing double glazing can help to save you money on your heating bills.
How does it work? Double glazing works by creating an air gap between an outside and inside pane of glass, which is too small for air to circulate. This trapped air is a poor conductor – reducing heat loss through the window.
Cost: £2,800 (semi-detached house with 8 uPVC windows)
Annual savings: £98 (A-rated in semi-detached house)
Energy saving tip: If you’re not looking to invest in double glazing, E.ON suggest fitting secondary glazing instead. This is ‘a pane of plastic or glass fitted inside a window recess [which] creates an insulating layer of air. Though not as effective as double-glazing, secondary glazing saves a lot of energy, is cost effective, and can give good kerb appeal by keeping original architectural features. You can find DIY glazing kits through a number of online retailers.’
3. Dual flush toilet
Why?Waterwise state that toilets use about 30% of the total water used in a household, with the average household flushing their toilets around 5,000 times a year.
How do they work? Dual flush toilets are designed with two buttons, which use much less water to flush liquid waste than solid waste. According to Andrew Tucker, Water Efficiency Manager at Thames Water, ‘by fitting your old single-flush toilet with a dual-flush mechanism, a family of four can save 29,200 litres’ every year.
Annual savings: £80 (4 person household)
Energy saving tip: You can install a water saving device or cistern displacement device into your toilet. For example, ‘save-a-flush bags’ or ‘HIPPO the water savers’ are available for free from most water companies.
4. Water-saving showerhead
Why? Showers account for around 12% of the water used in the household, as revealed by Waterwise. Reducing the amount of water you use during your showers can really help you save on your energy bills.
How do aerating showerheads work? They allow air to flow in with the water. This means that the water flow can be restricted whilst maintaining the water pressure; managing to use less water when you shower. Andrew Tucker from Thames Water advises that ‘fitting a water efficient showerhead can save a massive 21,840 litres of water’ each year for a family of four.
Annual savings: £167 (four person household)
Energy saving tip: Tucker states that ‘reducing your time in the shower by just one minute each day could save a family of four 11,648 litres of water (that’s about 145 bathtubs full of water) each year.’ You can monitor this with a shower-timer, which you can get free from some water companies.
5. Loft insulation
Why? The Energy Saving Trust recognise that 35% of heat is lost through the roof of an uninsulated house. Insulating your loft can help stop rising heat escaping from your home, and therefore save you money.
How does it work? Loft insulation is made from materials which contain air pockets. Trapped air works as an insulator and reduces heat transfer from the ceiling through the roof. Different materials can be used including glasswool, mineral wool and rigid foam.
Costs: £230 (0-270mm)
Annual savings: £200
Energy saving tip: According to E.ON, ‘it's worth checking to see how much loft insulation you have to ensure you're getting the maximum benefit, if it's below your joist it needs topping up to 270mm. You can install it yourself or employ a professional.’
6. Cavity wall insulation
Why? Because heat flows from warm areas to cold areas, E.ON reveals that ‘a typical home loses about one-third of its heat through uninsulated walls. Improving wall insulation can help you stay warmer and reduce your heating costs by 25-40%.’
How does it work? Cavity walls are made of two layers with a small gap between them. Insulation material is injected into this cavity. These materials trap air between their fibres, which becomes a good insulator and stops heat escaping.
Annual savings: £145
Energy saving tip: According to Gabby Mallett, Director for the National Energy Foundation and Project Director of YouGen, ‘Cavity Wall Insulation is only relevant if one has cavity walls. Many walls are solid brick and need solid wall insulation.’ You could insulate solid walls internally by fitting insulation boards called dry lining, or you could use an insulated external render.
7. DIY draught-proofing
Why? Without you knowing, draughts around the house can unnecessarily let warm air escape and cold air come in. Draught exclusion is one of the easiest ways to cut down energy costs in your home.
How does it work? Firstly you need to identify where the draughts around your house are coming from, and then block up these unwanted gaps using a variety of draught-proofing products. Common places that draughts occur are windows, doors, cracks, skirting boards, loft hatches, keyholes, letterboxes, pipes leading outside, electrical fittings and chimneys.
Annual savings: £38
Energy saving tip: E.ON recommend that you should ‘always look for the British Standards Kitemark when buying supplies. If you prefer to hire a professional, find installers through the Draught Proofing Advisory Association.’
8. Smart thermostat
Why? About 50% of household energy is consumed through heating and hot water, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So it’s important not to unnecessarily overheat your home and waste energy and money.
How do they work? Smart thermostats are becoming popular because they provide smarter control of your heating and potential for higher energy savings. You can manage your home’s temperature remotely via an app, they learn and adapt to your behaviour, and can also provide data about your energy consumption.
Cost: £249 (Hive thermostat)
Annual savings: £150
Energy saving tip: When looking to save energy, E.ON advise that you ‘turn down the heat when you're away or while you're sleeping. For even more savings, heat only the rooms you're using. It's a common misconception that it's cheaper to leave heating on all day than putting it on when you need it.’
9. Rainwater harvesting system
Why? YouGen report that in the UK, the average person uses around 150 litres of water each day – however most of this isn’t used for drinking water. Therefore installing a rainwater harvesting system can help conserve water supplies and greatly reduce bills for properties on a water meter.
How does it work? Any rainwater which falls onto the roof flows down pipes, passes through a filter and is stored in an underground tank. This can then be reused for non-drinking purposes, such as flushing toilets, watering the garden or washing your car.
Annual Savings: £256
Energy saving tip: Andrew Tucker at Thames Water explains that ‘using a hose or sprinkler to water your garden can use 540 litres of water and cost metered customers more than £1 every hour – more than the amount used by three people in a day.’ If you don’t wish to invest in a rainwater harvesting system, you could ‘use a watering can filled from a water butt instead, it’s free and better for your garden too.’
10. Solar panels
Why? Not only will solar panels help you cover your electricity bills, you can also benefit from the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme. You can be paid for the electricity you generate, as well as any excess electricity which goes back into the grid. You’ll be helping to protect the environment too, as a typical home solar PV system can save over one and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
How do they work? Solar panels are normally fitted to the roof of your house. They’re made up of many cells which have layers of semi-conducting material. When light from the sun hits the cells it’s converted into electrical energy. Although they can still work on a cloudy day, the more light there is, the more energy they’ll produce.
Cost: £6,500 (average domestic solar PV 4kWp system)
Annual Savings: £123
Feed-in-tariff payment: £519
Energy saving tip: To maximise the effectiveness of your solar panels, make sure they’re fitted to a south-facing area of your roof and are sloped at the right angle to receive the most sunlight. It’s also important to ensure the panels are kept clean and are free from shade.
It’s key to thoroughly research any energy saving technologies that you’re thinking of implementing. This will support you when making sure you’re investing in the most appropriate solutions for your home and personal needs – helping you make the best possible energy savings.
Would you like to find out how you could save enough money on your energy, to cover your gas and electricity costs? We’ve worked out which technologies you would need to have, to cover the cost of your bills – so you’ll have more disposable income to spend on yourself and your family. Click here to see how you could live in your very own house that pays for itself.
Please see below for sources used for the cost and saving indications throughout this article. All figures provided are approximate and will depend on a number of factors including specifications of energy saving products and where they are purchased, individual energy usage and habits, energy supplier, house size, location and number of occupants. They do not take into account fluctuations in energy prices or inflation.
- CFLs, cost and savings: http://www.uswitch.com/energy-saving/guides/energy-saving-light-bulbs/#step18
- Double glazing, cost: http://www.doubleglazingprices.org.uk/how-much-double-glazing-windows-cost-in-2013/
- Double glazing, savings: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic/energy-efficient-windows
- Water-saving toilet, cost: http://www.bathstore.com/products/toilets/all-toilets/water-saving-toilets
- Dual-flush toilet, savings: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/sites/default/files/reports/AtHomewithWater(7).pdf
- Aerated showerhead, cost: www.aqualogic-wc.com/?template=product.html&productKey=pro-ebb6587b000176
- Water efficient showerhead, savings: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic/energy-saving-quick-wins
- Loft and cavity wall insulation, cost and savings: http://www.ourproperty.co.uk/guides/slash_your_bills__10_tips_to_save_energy_at_home_guide.html
- Draught-proofing, cost and savings: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic/draught-proofing-your-home
- Hive thermostat, cost and savings: http://www.britishgas.co.uk/products-and-services/hive-active-heating.html
- Rainwater harvesting system, cost: http://www.yougen.co.uk/energy-saving/Rain+Harvesting/
- Rainwater harvesting system, savings: http://www.waterwise.org.uk/pages/rainwater-harvesting.html
- Solar panels, cost and savings: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/domestic/solar-panels