Energy saving advice
Heating & insulation
- Turning your thermostat down by 1 °C can save 10% on your fuel bills.
- In the average home, installing insulation in the loft area could save you around £145 per year on energy bills.
Boilers account for around 84% of the energy use in the home and 68% of the CO2 emissions. If the current boiler you use is old, and especially if it has a permanent pilot flame, its efficiency may be as low as 55%, meaning that for every £1 spent on fuel (gas or oil) only 55p is being used to heat your home effectively. A new condensing boiler can achieve an efficiency of around 90%. Condensing boilers recover far more heat energy from the flue gases, which are then discharged to the outside at a lower temperature. This can sometimes be seen as a visible vapour plume.
Condensing boilers are otherwise similar to non-condensing boilers, though it is not normally practicable to replace a traditional back boiler, (installed in a fireplace) by a condensing boiler in the same position.If you replace your old boiler you could save the comparable amounts shown below in this table. Figures supplied by Energy Saving Trust.
Old Boiler Rating
|Annual Saving (£/yr)||Annual Saving (kgCO2/yr)|
|G ( < 70%)||£225||1,100|
|F (70% - 74%)||£145||700|
|E (74% - 78%)||£105||500|
|D (78% - 82%)||£65||300|
Since April 2005 it has been a requirement of Building Regulations that new gas boilers should be condensing, whether installed in new heating systems or as replacements, unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Condensing boilers should not be confused with combination (or 'combi') boilers. Combi boilers provide hot water heated on demand directly from the boiler, rather than through a separate hot water storage cylinder.
To make the whole heating system run as economically as possible it is also important to install controls and set them properly. The purpose of controls is to prevent wasteful heating by limiting room temperatures and ensuring the building is only heated at specific times. This can be achieved by a room thermostat and programmer (or a combined programmable room thermostat), thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) on individual radiators, and a cylinder thermostat if you have a hot water storage cylinder. The room thermostat should be set to the lowest temperature at which the building feels comfortable, and the programmer should be used to switch off the heating and hot water automatically at times when they are not needed. Some trial and error is required to set thermostats and TRVs correctly, but once done they should not need regular adjustment.
With room heaters and warm air systems, the system controls can help you to operate it in the most efficient way possible. However, your running costs and carbon footprint could be significantly reduced by installing a more efficient system such as a condensing boiler.
If you use solid fuel or electric heating to heat your home, and you switch to using biomass, you could save between £170 and £390 per year. It will also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
It can cost substantially more to heat your home using electricity than other fuels. You could save money by switching your fuel supplier, or your method of payment. By choosing a 'Green Tariff' option from your fuel supplier, an agreed amount or all of your energy supplies can come from renewable energy sources. Contact your energy supplier to find out more.
Putting a 75mm thick hot water cylinder jacket on your hot water tank will save around £35 a year and £10 can be saved off an annual gas bill if any visible hot water pipes are insulated.
In the average home, installing insulation in the loft area could save you around £145 per year on energy bills, increasing the thickness of insulation to 270mm could increase the saving to £520 with a shorter associated payback time on your investment. Cavity wall and under floor insulation will also lead to savings on heating bills. Draft proofing around doors and windows can save the average home £25 a year on heating bills.
- Fit all the lights in your house with energy saving bulbs and you could save around £45 a year and £390 over the lifetime of all of the bulbs.
Energy saving light bulbs, often referred to as CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) use between 25 and 40 per cent less energy than standard bulbs. They also last up to ten times longer, so not only do they save you money on running costs; they also save on replacement costs.
Depending on how long your lights are in use every day, just one energy saving light bulb could save you on average around £2.50 a year, and around £6 for brighter bulbs or those used for more hours a day. It will also last around 10 times longer than a standard bulb, meaning it could save you around £45 before it needs replacing.
Energy saving bulbs still use energy so always switch off lights when you leave a room.
Electrical and white goods
- Switch off appliances when not in use to save £30 per year. Leaving unused appliances on standby (which means they're still using energy) costs around £800 million a year in the UK alone.
- An energy efficient 'A ++ rated' fridge/freezer could save you as much as £39 pounds a year on its fuel costs.
- Instead of having three separate pots and pans cooking on the hob, try steaming vegetables over the top of your boiling potatoes, this saves energy and time.
- If you use a dishwasher, save energy by ensuring you always have a full load before you switch on.
- Look for an Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo when you purchase a washing machine or dryer. It guarantees that the product will be the most energy efficient in its category, will cost less to run and reduce your carbon emissions.
Fridges and fridge/freezers
If you are about to replace an old appliance, it could be worth buying an energy efficient model even if it costs a little bit more. As the running costs are lower, so you will quickly recoup the extra initial cost and the overall cost will be less over its lifetime. For example, Energy Saving Trust Recommended fridges and fridge freezers use up to 60% less energy than a typical old one. This will give savings of up to £38 and 155 kilograms of CO2 a year for a fridge freezer and £13 and 55 kilograms for a fridge.
You can save energy by always using the small ring, or a low gas flame, for small pots and ensure that all pots have lids on.Use an electric kettle to heat water rather than a pan or kettle on an electric hob, and only heat the amount of water that you need for example if your making tea use a cup to measure out the water needed with a mug plus a little more.
Always set your oven temperature to what you need – higher settings do not heat the oven quicker.
If you are considering buying a new cooker, remember that a gas main oven costs around 5p an hour to run, compared to an electric main oven, which costs about 17p per hour.
If you have to choose electric, a fan assisted oven may help to save you energy as they use approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. Using recommended kettles or instantaneous water heaters, ensures that you will use 20% less energy over its lifetime compared to an average kettle.
For example, if every household in the UK used an Energy Saving Trust recommended kettle, over £160 million worth of energy could be saved per year.
It costs around 22% less to run a cycle on an energy saving dishwasher as it does on an old, inefficient machine. A dishwasher recommended by the energy saving trust will save you around £11 per year on your electricity bill and 47 kilograms of CO2, they will also use less water.
Try where possible to use the economy switch and always remember to turn your appliance off rather than leave it on standby.
If you are considering buying a new appliance, consider choosing an 'Energy Saving Recommended' model even if it costs a little more – as the running costs can be as much as 40% less than inefficient models, the overall cost will be much less over its lifetime.
Most of the energy used by a washing machine is for heating the water. You can cut your costs and help the environment by washing at a lower temperature and ensuring you always have a full load.
Washing clothes at 30°C instead of a higher temperature can use around 40% less electricity. Modern washing powders and detergents work just as effectively at lower temperatures.
Another easy energy saver is to always wash a full load. A half load setting usually uses more than half the energy of a full load setting, so by doing two half loads you'll use more energy than doing one full one.
If everyone in the UK replaced their old washing machine with an Energy Saving Trust Recommended model over £11 million a year could be saved from energy bills.
Tumble driers, washer/driers
Most of the energy used in tumble drying is used to dry the material in the load - spinning doesn't use much energy by comparison.
In fine weather hang your clothes outside to dry or consider installing a pulley in your kitchen.
If you have to use a tumble dryer, try to reduce the dampness of the clothes before doing so, by using the spin option on your washing machine.
Manufacturing tools uses energy and resources. However, the average drill is used for less than 15 minutes in its entire lifetime. Consider borrowing or hiring power tools instead of buying them.
- Try not to leave appliances on standby this could save around £40 per year on energy bills.
- Always switch satellite or digital receivers off at the wall, and when replacing equipment consider TV sets with integrated digital.
- Choosing an Energy Saving Trust Recommended inkjet printer over a non-Energy Saving Trust Recommended one can save you almost a third of the electricity you would normally use running your printer over a year.
Televisions waste energy and money when left on standby. Always switch TV sets off at the wall. Some sets can consume up to 90% of their normal power requirement on standby. £76 million is wasted in the UK every year by people not doing this.
The latest integrated digital televisions (IDTVs) have the capacity to receive digital signals without the need for a set top box, so they use one power supply instead of two. Unlike many set top boxes, IDTV's can be switched off without losing their settings and so don't have to be left on standby. An Energy Saving Trust Recommended IDTV can save around £4 a year and 17 kilograms of CO 2 each year compared to a similar TV and set top box and are the most efficient in their class.
Satellite / digital TV receivers
Between 2008 and 2012, every television in the UK will be switching to digital television and will need to be compatible with a digital signal to be able to receive broadcasts.
If you are planning to replace your TV set, you can buy an IDTV; if not, you can purchase a set top box to receive a digital signal.
An Energy Saving Trust Recommended standard set top box can use up to a third less energy while in on-mode than a typical set top box and therefore will cost about 30 per cent less to run.
Power supply plugs, mobile phone chargers etc, still consume energy if they are left switched on but not connected to an appliance. This is a waste of both energy and money. Ensure power supply plugs that are not in use are switched off at the wall.
Personal computers, printers
Save energy and money by printing in black and white, and save paper by printing double-sided if your printer has this facility.
Always switch off your printer when it is not in use – leaving it on standby wastes energy.Always shut down your personal computer properly instead of leaving it on standby.
According to DEFRA's Market Transformation Programme, a typical new laptop consumes around 80% less energy than a typical new desktop computer with separate monitor. This is partly due to the fact that the components inside laptops are designed to be more energy efficient so that the machine can be smaller and portable and also because they have a limited battery life which restricts the amount of time they can be accidentally left on while not in use. A laptop will therefore typically cost around £25 a year less to run than a desktop with monitor and also produce around 110kg less carbon dioxide.
- Install a water butt to collect rainwater. Your roof collects tens of thousands of litres of water each year and rainwater is better for plants than tap water as it is softer.
If a four person family replaces an inefficient shower head with a high flow rate to a water efficient one they could save around £50 off their gas bills and around £75 off their water bills (if they have a water meter) each year. That’s a total saving of £125.
Invest in a water butt and use the water to water your garden, houseplants and wash your car.
About 30% of all water used in dwellings is flushed down the toilet every day. Low-flush and dual flush WCs are specifically designed to reduce the volume of water used during flushing. These systems use up to 6 litres less water per flush than an old fashioned toilet – saving over 16,000 litres of water per year.
- With a quarter of all car journeys under two miles, walking or cycling instead can help cut your carbon footprint
- Investigate car sharing schemes near you and calculate how much CO2 you could save by travelling with others.
- The best thing you can do to cut emissions from flying is to make sure you only take a plane when absolutely necessary.
The average car driver clocks up around 10,000 miles every year. Many of these miles are for short journeys, where the car engine does not have sufficient time to heat up and as a result the fuel consumption is not very efficient. Consider improving your health, the environment and your pocket by choosing to walk, cycle or use public transport instead.
The higher your miles-per-gallon figure, the more efficiently you are driving your car. Try to monitor this on a monthly basis.
An environmental rating is now displayed on all new cars in showrooms across the country. This grades each car from A (the cleanest rating) to G (the most polluting rating). The Vehicle Certification Agency has a database that you can reference to assess a car’s fuel economy and CO2 emissions before purchasing.
Adopt smarter driving techniques, use your gears, acceleration and powers of anticipation to adopt a more fuel-efficient driving style. As well as reducing your fuel consumption, you can reduce you carbon emissions, reduce wear and tear on the vehicle and drive safer as well. Some smarter driving tips include;
When slowing down or driving downhill, remain in gear but take your foot off the accelerator early. This reduces fuel flow to the engine to virtually zero.
Driving within the speed limit is safer as well as being the law, and reduces fuel consumption.
If you’re stuck in traffic switch your motor off, modern cars use virtually no extra fuel when they are re-started without pressing the accelerator.
Turn off the engine if you're going to be stationary for more than a minute or two. Plan your journeys to avoid congestion and road works, and to make sure you don't waste fuel or time getting lost!
Use other forms of transport for short journeys, if you can.
A cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel and catalytic converters can take five miles to become effective.
Accessories such as roof racks, bike carriers and roof boxes significantly affect your car's aerodynamics and reduce fuel efficiency, so remove them when not in use.
Under-inflated tyres are dangerous and increase fuel consumption.
Air conditioning can significantly increase fuel consumption. Try switching it off, or use an 'eco' setting if you have one. However, if you are really hot and travelling at speed, air conditioning is better for fuel consumption than opening windows.
For more tips on how to become an eco-driver, visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Many short-flight journeys could be made by train, considerably reducing the level of carbon emissions for the same journey. For example, the train from London to Paris uses only 15% of the CO2 emissions from flying.
This can often be a more comfortable and more enjoyable experience. If your journey is last minute, you could always fly one way and travel on public transport on your return.
Many short haul flights are made by those of us travelling to and from holiday destinations. You could consider changing your usual mode of travel and make use of cycles and public transport to explore and enjoy some of the scenery and towns on the way to your final destination.
Long-haul flights can impact heavily on your personal carbon footprint. You could choose an airline that is committed to reducing its own carbon footprint, e.g. through the development and use of cleaner fuels and technologies, or carbon offsetting.
If people who fly three or more times a year were to take one less return flight across Europe, it would save as much energy as taking nearly half a million cars off the road for a year.A flight from London to Thailand releases eight times as much CO2 as a flight to Rome. If you have a choice, it's greener to stay closer to home.
Many travel companies provide carbon offsetting schemes, where a supplement that you pay is invested in a low-carbon initiative. Always read the small print carefully before using such a scheme.
Renewable energy technologies for domestic buildings
- Consider installing home renewable energy generation such as solar panels with the UK feed-in tariff scheme.
Renewable energy technologies like solar panels, wind turbines, and biomass heaters are becoming increasingly popular especially with the recent introduction of the UK FIT scheme. These are effective alternatives to fossil fuels and will help you to meet your own energy requirements and reduce your home's carbon dioxide emissions.
In April 2010, the UK government introduced a feed in tariff scheme for homeowners to earn money for every KWh of electricity they produce from home generated renewable energy, this means there is a great opportunity to invest in home based renewable energy with a good financial incentive.
For more information on the UK feed-in tariff scheme refer to the Energy Saving Trusts website: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy/Sell-your-own-energy/Feed-in-Tariff-scheme
For tips on which renewable energy technologies to consider visit the Energy Saving Trust's website: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generate-your-own-energy
National average footprint
- An average household could save on average £250 per year on energy bills and around 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Complete a home energy check and see what you can save.
References to the national average footprint use data provided by Defra, included in their Data, Methodology and Assumptions paper for their Act on CO2 calculator. Please refer to section V of the paper for further details.
To find out more, about saving energy and water in your home or business, call the Energy Saving Trust's free phone advice line on 0800 512 012 or visit www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
Or visit the ACT ON CO2 website