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Appliances and Heating

Appliances

Energy prices seem to be constantly increasing so reducing the amount of energy you use at home makes economic, as well as environmental, sense. It is an important time to think about electricity use as the UK is currently planning the replacement of the old power stations built in the 1960’s and 70’s and also needs to meet the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

The good news is that since 2000 domestic energy use has decreased by 7 per cent, despite an increase of 11 per cent in the number of UK households and a 9 per cent increase in the UK population. At the household level, energy consumption has fallen on average by 9 per cent since 2000. 

This trend is largely due to improvements in the energy efficiency of lighting, appliances and improved efficiency of buildings through insulation.

However, there has been a significant increase in the amount of consumer electronics and other appliances in our homes. In some cases the energy efficiency gains are being all but wiped out by an increase in the size replacement appliances such as bigger fridges. 

To reduce your electricity use, and minimise any bill increases, it is important to try to ensure that any new electronic items are as energy efficient as possible by looking closely at the energy labels when choosing a product. It is also very important to not waste energy by leaving appliances or lights on when not being used on, or on standby. Minimising the use of energy hungry appliances such as tumble dryers and other simple changes such as not overfilling a kettle and only using a washing machine when full and at 40oC or less, can also have a big impacts on energy use.

Peak demand for electricity in the home is generally between 6 and 7pm. Managing this peak load is challenging and would be helped if people did not use appliances such as washing appliances and electric heating at this time. However, interestingly changing those appliances which can’t be turned off to more efficient ones will have a bigger impact to the peak demand, as well as helping to reduce overall energy use.

Fridges and Freezers

Studies have found that appliances which keep our food cold account for about 14% of the electricity use in our homes and the average fridge freezer is about 8 and a half years old. Only a few percent of people own the most efficient appliance currently available therefore most could be replaced with a more energy efficient model which would save about a quarter of the energy. It is thought that around a fifth of older freezers may be faulty and the thermostat does not cycle on and off as normal which means they consume much more electricity than they should.

Lighting

Lighting our homes accounts for on average 18% of the electricity but is one of the easiest and cheapest way to become more energy efficient.  Since a ban by the EU the days of the single incandescent bulb are numbered.  However in some households these were replaced by multiple halogen bulbs which are often used in large quantities in spotlight fittings and as such didn't save much energy.  LED bulbs, which save significantly more energy than halogen bulbs, are now widely available and as such from September 2018 inefficient (D rating) halogen bulbs will also be phased out. If you have halogen lights in your home which you leave on regularly, you may be able to make big savings by switching off or changing to LED spotlight bulbs.  LED bulbs of all types have developed rapidly and are now significantly cheaper, have variable colours and brightness and are even 'dimmable'.  They also last significantly longer so over their lifetime will save both energy and money.

 

 

Heating your home

Heating systems can be enormously energy hungry. Paying attention to how you heat your home could therefore save you money. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your heating system.  

If you have central heating ensure that all your pipes are insulated, your room thermostat is set to the correct temperature (around 210C), your thermostatic valves are turned off in the unused rooms and your timer and programmer are set to the correct time (don’t forget to change it when the summer time changes to winter time) and the correct cycle. Install shelves above radiators; tack curtains behind or shorten them just above the radiator and don’t block radiators with your furniture.

When you boiler gets 15 years or older consider replacement, as newer boilers work with greater efficiency (they convert more energy into useful heat). To help you with replacement, contact your energy supplier who may have some incentives or if you are living in a private property and you are on certain benefits you may be eligible for ECO funding.  Since 2015 boilers have been rated for efficiency in a A to G system similar to other appliances such as fridges and washing machines.

If you have electric or gas fire use it sparingly as it is expensive to run and is not very efficient.

If you can, consider the installation of underfloor heating as it is a very efficient method of space heating. Its effectiveness could be increased by combining underfloor heating with the use of ground source heat pump.

Ensure that all the unnecessary and unwanted draughts are blocked. This includes unused chimneys, draughty windows, letterboxes and under door gaps. As a rule of thumb, where you can see light, cold air can enter and warm air escape. However, don’t forget to allow adequate and necessary ventilation.

For more information on heating and any other energy or water and waste related issues visit the Energy Saving Trust.

Smart Meters

 

Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters being rolled out across Great Britain. They show you how much energy you are using in pounds and pence, in near real time and bring an end to estimated bills.

The Government wants energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland, with the goal of every home having a smart meter by 2020.  Some suppliers are already installing early generation smart meters.

How green is your home? Explore our interactive house for money saving tips and suggestions.