With winter now firmly upon us, no doubt homeowners all over the country are now turning on the central heating and lighting up their wood-burning stoves to keep the family nice and cosy over the next few weeks. But the unfortunate price of staying snug and warm is that your heating bills can skyrocket at this time of year… so what can be done about it?
Luckily, there are numerous steps you can take to help reduce your energy bills and cut the amount of energy you’re using, which will be good not just for you and your back pocket but for the environment as well.
Draught-proofing is one quick and easy way to make a real difference to how warm it feels at home. And you can do this yourself without much fuss and bother at all, simply by going around the hose and filling in any cracks in floorboards and the tops and bottoms of your skirting boards with flexible sealant.
You can also make a huge difference by upgrading or repairing the sash windows in your Hampshire home. If you don’t already have double glazing, this is a must as it will really help to keep the heat in when you want it.
Look for A+ rated windows so you know you’re buying the best products on the market. Triple glazing will give you the highest A++ rating – perfect if you live somewhere especially cold and frosty.
Have a browse of the Energy Saving Trust website to find out more about energy-efficient windows and how you could benefit. Apparently, if you install A++ double glazed windows to a detached house, you can save between £115 and £120 the following year, which could be all you need to know to convince you to make these changes at home.
There are lots of benefits to improving the energy efficiency of the windows at home, including making your home more comfortable thanks to fewer draughts and cold spots, and reduced condensation build-up on the inside of the windows. You’re also likely to find that your house is quieter, since double and triple glazing also insulates your home against external noise.
Before you start making plans where your windows are concerned, however, make sure that you check with your local planning office if you live in a conservation area or if you live in a listed building as you may well need to have planning permission in place to make certain changes to your property.
To tide you over before your new windows are installed, you can make a real difference to the amount of heat escaping through your current windows by hanging thick heavy lined curtains.
Secondary glazing, sealed blinds and shutters can all prove useful as well, especially if you do live in a conservation area or live in a historic home where you’re restricted on what you can do to the property.
Depending on the age of your house, you might also benefit from insulating the ground floor of the property. Older houses often have suspended wooden floors but you can get around this quite easily by lifting the boards up to lay down some wool insulation.
Roof insulation can also make a huge difference when it comes to the amount of energy you can save. A lot of the heat from your home scapes through the roof and, although loft insulation may well cost you a little bit to sort out, it will quickly pay for itself in terms of the amount you save on your annual energy bills.
Other changes you could make include switching out your older appliances and gadgets for more efficient ones and switching out the light bulbs to LEDs and energy-saving options.
One really easy way to make immediate savings on energy is by investing LED light bulbs and replacing the traditional ones you have at home. They cost comparatively little to run so if you’re looking for a quick win, this could certainly be it. These light bulbs also last longer than traditional ones and use almost 90 per cent less energy than the bulbs you may have at home.
And, of course, you can make sure that you’re not using energy unnecessarily by ensuring that you turn the lights off whenever you leave a room. Choosing your bulbs carefully depending on the size of the room you want to light up can also help to make a difference.
You can also make savings by turning off unused devices at the plug. According to MoneySuperMarket, you can save yourself an average of £30 a year if you turn appliances off at the plug – but make it easier for yourself by investing in timers so they turn themselves off without you having to think about it.
Smart thermostats can also make a difference to your bills and your impact on the planet by only warming the rooms that are in use. These thermostats will learn how long it takes to heat your property so you can enjoy the right temperatures when you want them – but you can also control them using your phone, so you never have to come home to a cold house ever again.
And don’t forget that you can turn your thermostat down if you’re concerned about how much you’re spending on energy – apparently, turning it down by just a single degree could save you up to £80 a year!
There has been much talk going on recently that using a smart meter can help you reduce your energy bills, but it seems that this may not be the case – so perhaps think about it a little more before you decide to move in this direction.
A new survey carried out by Consumer Intelligence, on behalf of the Daily Mail, has found that just one in three households have succeeded in reducing energy usage after having one installed.
It was found that 53 per cent of those with a smart meter hadn’t changed their energy usage, with 16 per cent going so far as to say that they are now in fact using more energy. Some 31 per cent did say they were using less power, with three per cent saying they were now using considerably less.
Another option available to those keen to save the planet and drive down their energy bills at the same time is to invest in energy-efficient appliances. Figures from Which? suggest that if you replace an appliance with the most energy-efficient model out there you could save yourself up to £275 a year.
Product tests from the consumer watchdog indicate that you could save yourself £41 a year by switching your washing machine, £95 annually by replacing your tumble dryer and £139 a year if you swap out your fridge-freezer, so it could certainly be worth looking into in the new year.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options available to you if you are keen to reduce your energy usage, help save the planet and spend less money into the bargain. It’s simply a matter of finding out which one is best for you and your family.