In honour of Big Energy Saving Week 2020, we’ve put together our tips to save money on your bills and also reduce your carbon footprint.
Whether you’re a landlord looking to improve the energy efficiency of your let properties or a tenant or homeowner looking to make some changes, we hope these suggestions help!
1. Solar panels
You can install solar panels on the roof of your property to lower your energy bills. There will be an initial cost for the installation, but after that, you will see a difference in your electricity costs.
The sun is free to access, after all, and it’s a green renewable energy source!
The Government website points out that 90% of energy is given off as heat. Unless you are also sitting around your lamp to keep warm, this lost energy is money we are throwing away.
You could look at moving to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LEDs. They may cost more to buy initially but will save you money in the long run.
3. Remember to turn it off!
Leaving anything on standby can cost you money unnecessarily. You may feel like it’s minimal, but it adds up over the years! And do we even need to mention the unnecessary harm it does to the planet?
This is worth bearing in mind even if you’re a landlord with an unoccupied let if it’s furnished.
Having the power to your appliances and devices controlled remotely makes it easy. If you forget to switch off the TV or a light and you’re not in the property, these days you can do it from your phone with the right technology.
You will have to spend money on the smart devices needed in your home for it to work, but then saving on your energy bills in the future will be that much easier.
4. Smart thermostat
You can take the smart device route one step further by also setting up a thermostat that can be controlled by an app or smart speaker. Imagine being able to turn the heating up whilst still in bed simply by saying “OK Google, make it warmer”!
Installing windows that retain heat well will make a difference. How draught-proof they are will also help. Windows have ratings that contribute to their overall energy efficiency. Look at the U-Value (how well it retains heat), G-Factor (how well it captures heat) and L-Factor (how airtight it is) when considering your options.
6. External doors
Having the right doors to keep the warmth in is important too. Like windows, doors have a U-Value to determine how well they retain heat.
7. Insulating curtains
The type of curtains or blinds you use matter as well. The right ones will help to reduce heat escaping in winter, meaning a warmer house without the need to have the heating on as high.
On top of this, keeping them closed during the daytime in the summer can help to prevent your home overheating.
8. Loft insulation
It can be easy to forget about this part of the house if you don’t tend to go up there often. However, better insulation in the loft means more heat will be kept inside the building.
The law states that all new central heating boilers fitted in the UK need to be condensing boilers. If you’ve had the same one in your property since before you can remember, then there may be room for improvement here.
The higher the energy efficiency rating of a boiler, the cheaper your heating bills, and your CO2 emissions can be vastly reduced.
10. Heating and hot water timers
You may have your boiler set to a timer, but do you actually need the heating and hot water at those times? Experiment with having the heating on less and at a lower temperature until you find what suits your needs. Also, have a think about how much hot water you actually need in a day and whether this can be reduced as well.
11. Washing machines
Get into the habit of washing your clothes at a lower temperature, unless they are soiled and need a thorough clean.
Washing machines are required to have a 20°C setting in the UK, as a measure to help save energy. Which?, the consumer advice website, has calculated that using 20°C instead of 40°C could reduce running costs by 66%.
However, certain items may need to be washed at a higher temperature for hygiene reasons. The NHS website states that items such as sports clothes, cloths used in food preparation and shared towels count as high risk. It advises that these should be washed at 60°C.
12. Tenant improvements
Tenants can request consent from a landlord to make energy efficiency improvements within the property themselves. It is up to them to fund any work done, unless the landlord agrees to contribute.
13. Compare companies
Whenever you’re approaching renewal times for energy contracts, do you look around to compare? You may find that you can save simply by switching over to a different provider. It’s even possible that the one you are with will match or better an offer when you tell them you are looking to leave.
14. Toilet flushing
Although not an energy-saving tip, this one is on the topic of saving the planet. Apparently, the average person flushes five times a day. This makes up to about 31% of overall household water.
Flushing less often is one way to change this, but might not be a preferred option for some. Alternatively, there are products that reduce the amount of water used per flush.
Some water suppliers will provide you with these products for free if you are one of their customers. For example, Severn Trent Water will send customers ‘Hippo bags’, which inflate in your cistern so that up to 1.2 litres of water is saved with each flush.
15. Appliances with an EPC rating
Electrical appliances have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to determine how energy efficient they are. The best rating is A+++ and the worst is G. White goods come with a sticker that clearly depicts this rating.
16. EPC law change
Landlords, be aware that on 1st April the law regarding EPCs for your let will change again. All properties rented out in the private sector will have to have a minimum EPC rating of E. This is for new and existing tenancies.
17. Energy bill discounts
If you are receiving benefits then you may also be entitled to a discount. Some energy supplies can provide a rebate, depending on your situation, so it is worth enquiring.
18. Available grants
There are government grants to help with paying energy bills, also available to those who get certain benefits from the government. There’s the Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payments and the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
Some grants are specifically available to help you pay off any debt accrued with an energy supplier.
Have you thought about what you can do outside of your home to help the planet? Look at alternatives to using petrol or diesel in order to get you to work or school.
Can you walk there or cycle? Even a bus or train would be better, as it means fewer vehicles on the road, reducing congestion as well. If you have no choice but to drive, then organise a carpool system with your colleagues to split the costs and the time spent behind the wheel – this way everyone wins!
20. Get out!
Our final tip to you all to save money and improve your carbon footprint is to switch off your TVs, your computers and your games consoles, and go outside!
Go for a walk with friends and family. Grab a bat and ball and actually have a go at a sport you enjoy, instead of playing virtually or watching others. You’ll feel better because of it. And if the weather’s bad? Well, you may have heard that board games have come back in fashion in a big way, so perhaps it’s time to dust off your copy of Risk…
We’re aware that most of these tips will involve spending money initially, but mankind is only just at this turning point for becoming more environmentally aware.
Eventually, energy efficiency will be at the forefront of every property developer and appliance company so that everything we produce will be as eco-friendly and bank balance-friendly as possible. So, here’s to making a start – Happy Big Energy Saving Week!