My top five energy saving tips
Posted by Adrian Wright on 3 November 2011 at 3:03 am
Insulation is a no brainer. Why allow all of that expensive heat to escape through your walls and roof when you can receive grant funding from energy suppliers to have your home professionally insulated? Enact Energy can now do this for you completely free of charge* so there really has never been a better time to get your home insulated. Cut your heat loss by up to 50% and save up to £135** per year on your heating bills with cavity wall insulation and £175** with loft insulation.
*Free cavity wall insulation and loft insulation if your home has less than 60mm of existing insulation. Some additional charges may apply to larger than average homes or where extra works are required such as scaffolding or ventilation etc. ** source Energy Savings Trust
2) Ditch those halogen bulbs!
Halogen downlights are an obsession of mine, just ask anyone I work with. The scourge of noughties, most homes didn’t escape the evil 50w halogen bulb whether it be a kitchen downlight or in a chrome light fitting. I am not sure whether to blame B&Q or BBC Changing Rooms. They are cheap to buy, and nice and bright, but you will pay dearly through your electricity bill.
When I moved into my home a few years ago I found a kitchen with around 20 halogen bulbs in. I calculated that if I had them on for 4 hours a night, that was 4 hours x 20 bulbs x 50w which in electricity terms adds up to 4kWh a day. At 12p per kWh that is 48p a day or a whopping £175 per annum just for the kitchen lighting! I installed low energy versions which at the time were around £12 each (but recently saw them on sale for less than £2). An 11 watt compact fluorescent downlight is almost as bright as a halogen but almost 5 times cheaper to run, a saving of £136 per year in the example of my kitchen.
LED replacements are getting cheaper and now you can get the equivalent light output of a 50w halogen from just a 5 watt bulb. Dimmable versions are also available but not easy to source in mainstream DIY sheds. If you have a large number of halogens you want to replace I would recommend sourcing directly from China, I recently negotiated a price of around 7 US dollars (circa £4.66) for a bulb which here could easily cost £30.
Clearly you need to vet the manufacturer by asking to see their CE and ISO certification, and you will need to factor in import charges and carriage, but if you have 10 or more bulbs to replace you will still be quids in.
3) Switch energy supplier
One of the quickest and easiest ways to save on your energy bills is to switch supplier. You could save up to £458 a year* without having to pay out a bean as long as your existing tariff has no exit penalties. Go to Consumer Focus for a full list of approved independent energy bill comparison websites, and have a copy of your existing energy bill or annual statement to hand.
4) Install an energy monitor
Whilst an energy monitor does not in itself save energy, you will find that a glowing display which tells you your home’s energy usage has gone into overdrive will focus your mind and you will find yourself becoming healthily obsessed by standby energy usage on your appliances.
I recently installed an Alertme monitor in a temporary house we were renting (around £49) which came with an online web interface and I was shocked at the base load of electricity that was being used and the huge peak when the electric immersion kicked in. Nothing makes you react more quickly than seeing your money draining away to your electricity company in real time!
5) Install solar PV (electric)
Yes, yes I know, the feed-in tariff has just been cut by 50%, but dither any further and you will see it cut again in 2013, so buy now before this happens and before electricity bills jump up again.
While the feed-in tariff rate on a 4kWp system will now only generate you an income of around £735, based on RPI inflation at 2.5% and annual energy bill inflation of 5%, this will still give you a pay back on your investment within 10 years and a total 25 year income (including energy bill savings) of circa £37,000 based on a system which should now cost you less than £10k. Not a bad return on investment?
Now let’s assume RPI inflation stays at its current rate of 5% and energy bills continue to leap up by 10% a year (which is not impossible). Now your payback is more like 8 years and your total 25 year benefit jumps to nearer £57,000!
Don’t be put off by the new lower feed-in tariff rate. By all means kick yourself for missing the pennies from heaven 43.3p rate, but don’t end up kicking yourself again in just over a year's time when you realise you should have installed solar PV while the going was still good.Photo: stormpetrel1
About the author: Adrian Wright has more than 20 years experience in the energy efficiency industry and acts as a consultant to Enact Energy.
If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.
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