Energy guide

white cat with black tail sleeping on old fashioned radiator

Did you know?

Around 22% of the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes and heating accounts for about 55% of what you spend in a year on energy bills.

You can save money by being energy efficient at home. The Energy Saving Trust website is packed with information to help you manage your energy, but here are just a few ideas you could try – you may be doing some of them already, but there might be other things you haven’t thought of.

No/low cost ideas

Switch to a green electricity tariff

An increasing number of suppliers offer green energy in the UK.  The Energy Saving Trust produces a useful guide which looks at different energy tariffs and explains what you need to do to switch supplier and how to ensure your energy comes from as sustainable a source as possible.  Alternatively, give Gloucestershire’s local energy advice line Warm and Well a call on 0800 500 3076 to find out more about green energy tariffs and how to switch (0800 numbers are free to call from mobile phones and landlines).

Get a smart meter

Ask your energy provider about getting a smart meter.  Smart meters measure how much gas and electricity you’re using via a remote connection to your energy supplier. They also come with an in-home display screen, which shows you in real time what your energy usage is and what it is costing.  This means you can see what is affecting your energy usage, for example when you switch on your washing machine you’ll be able to see what difference this makes.  So having a smart meter can support you to reduce your energy consumption. 

Switch off

To save energy and lower your carbon footprint make sure all appliances are switched off and not left on standby. Also be sure to turn all lights off when leaving a room.  Energy saving light bulbs use around a tenth of the energy of normal filament bulbs and can last ten times longer; saving energy and money.  For information about different types of bulbs and which are suitable to use indoors, outdoors and for dimmable lighting have a look on the Energy Saving Trust website.

Draught proof your home

Draught proofing is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to reduce household carbon emissions and cut energy costs. Using draught excluders, such as a door brush, stops cold air coming in and prevents warm air from escaping. Warm and Well offer advice on energy efficiency measures in your home. The Centre for Sustainable Energy also offers a free online DIY draught-proofing booklet.

Lower those settings

Turning down your thermostat by just 1°C will reduce your energy use and can save 10% on your energy bills. A safe warm home should have its thermostat set to between18 - 21°C.  

Regulate your temperature

Make sure your curtains are shut at dusk to keep the heat in and close your curtains in the summer to keep out direct sunlight and keep your house cool. Thick curtains or blinds are best.

Cold wash (not you, your washing machine!)

Set your washing machine and dishwasher to a cold wash or a lower the wash temperature – saving money and emissions. Washing on cooler temperatures not only saves you money but it typically makes your clothes last longer.  Avoid using your tumble dryer and when the weather permits air dry your clothes outside.

For more useful tips 

You could subscribe to the Energy Saving Trust’s monthly newsletter Energywire.  It’s free, arrives by email and brings you top-tips and easy to follow advice on how to save energy at home, exclusive offers and the chance to win energy-saving prizes.

Your heating and hot water system

Heating accounts for about 55% of what you spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.

Adding a chemical inhibitor to your central heating system – a solution which is added to the water – will keep it working efficiently and effectively. 

Boilers and controls

Because we spend so much on heating our homes, having an efficient boiler can make a big difference. 

Adding a chemical inhibitor to your central heating system – a solution which is added to the water – will keep it working efficiently and effectively. You could also consider fitting better controls, such as newer thermostats or smart heating controls to give you more control over your heating system to provide heat where and when you want it. 

If your boiler is old and due for replacement there are a couple of options.  You could consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient model; the Energy Saving Trust has useful guidance about what to consider.  Alternatively you could explore switching to a low-carbon heating system such as a heat pump or a hybrid system, but it’s a good idea to think about whether renewable heat is right for your home first.

Electric storage heating

Electric storage heating is more common in flats, rented property, and in homes with no mains gas connection.  Electric heating is one of the most expensive heating options in the UK, and it emits more carbon dioxide than most systems. However, as the national grid gradually uses more low carbon renewable energy and we move away from using gas and oil, having an electric heating system will be a positive. If you have an electric storage heating and hot water system, read the guide on electric heating systems for information about suitable controls.

Generating your own renewable energy

There’s a range of renewable technologies that can be installed in your home to generate electricity or to generate heat, including:

  • Solar panels
  • Micro combined heat and power
  • Heat pumps
  • Solar water heating
  • Biomass
  • Thermal energy stores

It can be difficult to know where to start, so you’ll find some handy guides on the Warm and Well and Energy Saving Trust websites.

Grants and funding

The best place to find out about current grants and funding is the Warm and Well website as it carries information about local and national schemes. If you would like to find out more about the Green Homes Grant launched by the government in September 2020, Warm and Well has a dedicated phone line and email address for this: Telephone 01452 937996 or email greenhomes@severnwye.org.uk.

Otherwise, for information about what other grants may be available to you, including insulation, boilers and heating and renewable energy incentives have a look at their website, fill in the contact form or give them a call on 0800 500 3076.