Mortgages made easier

10 ways to use less energy at home

Being green has never been so easy

1. Switch your lightbulbs

Lighting makes up to about 20% of a typical electricity bill. Old school light bulbs waste a whopping 95% of their energy, and use only 5% to create light.

A simple switch to LED lightbulbs can make a huge difference. LEDs give you a triple bonus – they save waste, lower your electricity bills and last up to twenty times longer.

We’ve written loads more on lighting here

2. Shop for A-rated appliances

An energy rating is a quick way of knowing how efficient an appliance is. Bear these in mind when shopping for white goods. The lowest rating is G and the highest is A+++. In shops they’ll be colour coded, but online you may have to dig around in the product description. 

  • Washer dryers: They can be rated up to A+++. 
  • Washing machines: Since 2014, to follow EU rules, all washing machines are rated A or better.
  • Tumble dryers: These use a lot of energy, costing around £100 yearly. A+++ models are pricey (£599 - £1,899) but if you can afford anything from A upwards, it’s worth the investment. 
  • Dishwashers: Back in the day, it was more efficient to wash up but now you can load that dishwasher, guilt free. High rated models often use less water and heat than you would.
  • Fridges and freezers: Since 2012, these have to be rated A+ or better. If you bought before this, it might be worth replacing – the energy savings will pay for the cost in a few years.

3. Insulate your roof

A third of your home’s heat is lost through the roof. But you can put a lid on it by insulating your loft. It’s effective for decades and cheaper than you’d think. Read more about insulating your roof, what it costs and how much it could save you right here

4. Think about double or triple glazing

Double or triple glazed windows aren’t cheap, but they pay off. 

You’ll hear chat about ‘U-values’ in the glazing world. A U-value measures how much heat gets through a window – the lower the number, the less heat lost. Single pane glass has a value of 5, double glazed a value of around 1.4, and triple glazed a value of 0.7. 

Double or triple glazing can save you from £30 - £120 per year so in the long term, you’ll feel the benefits. It could also raise the value of your home, and appeal to buyers if you want to sell. 

5. Upgrade your boiler

An old boiler can operate at less than 60% efficiency. It wastes the rest of the energy on running itself.

Almost all modern boilers are ‘condensing’. They take any heat that an old boiler would have otherwise wasted, and use it to pre-heat their heating system instead. Out of the box, they’re over 90% efficient (if installed correctly). Read more about the different types of boilers and how to install yours right. 

6. Put reflectors behind your radiators

When you turn the heating on, lots of the energy is actually lost through the wall and to the street outside. Radiator reflectors are the answer.

These thin sheets of foil sit between the radiator and the wall, pushing up to 95% of the heat wastage back into the room. They’re cheap and easy to fit – all you’ll need is a pair of scissors and a measuring tape.

7. Get a smart thermostat

We’ve all seen the adverts, but does a smart thermostat really help save energy? The short answer is yes, if you actually use it.

Smart thermostats let you control your heating from your phone, whether you’re out and about or lounging in bed. Some estimate your savings, others let you know when you hit an energy-efficient temperature.

For people who aren’t savvy on their phones or will forget to use it, there won’t be much benefit. But stay on top of it and you’ll reduce your energy usage by around 30%. Price-wise, the leading brands cost between £150-£280, and you might have to pay for installation too. 

8. Upgrade your taps and shower heads

We all agree there’s nothing worse than a naff shower or weak tap, but they might also be pouring energy down the drain, literally. 

Shower heads are all about flow – the number of gallons they deliver per minute (gpm). Only a few years back, shower heads were delivering up to 8 gpm but the latest low flow options deliver only 1.6 gpm – it’ll still feel great and save you a bucket load of water.

Tap aerators are cheap and don’t look like much, but deserve more credit than you’d think. For less than £10, this tiny addition to the end of your tap is an easy way to save energy at home. They increase pressure and reduce the flow by up to 10 litres per minute.

9. Insulate the walls

About 33% of heat escapes through the external walls of a home. There are different ways to insulate depending on whether you have cavity walls or solid walls. 

  • Cavity walls: These are made up of two layers with a gap between them. Since the 1920s, walls were built this way to stop rainwater leaking into homes. If you have these kinds of walls, you can fill that gap with insulation.
  • Solid walls: As you’ve probably guessed, solid walls don’t have that gap. This is typical in older buildings and means you have to place your insulation on the outside or inside of the walls. 

Read more about the process, cost and potential savings of wall insulation. 

10. Grab some smart power strips

As much as 16% of energy used by household electronics is consumed when they’re switched off. You heard that right, we live in an age where ‘off’ doesn’t mean ‘off’. This wastage is known as ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire’ loads and can cost you as much as £86 every year.

Enter the smart power strip. It looks like an extension lead but cleverly stops power to devices when they aren’t in use. You can set them to turn off at certain times, when your electronics are inactive, via remote switches or following the lead of a ‘master’ device (if this one’s off, power stops to all the others). They generally cost less than £30, so this green option is a no-brainer. 

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Alex Winn

Mortgage Expert | CeMAP, CeSRE

Alex decided to become a mortgage broker after he used one to buy his flat. Was he inspired by the amazing service? No. He just figured he could do a much better job. Today, Alex leads one of Habito's biggest teams of brokers, giving people the expert, savvy advice they need to make buying their homes a breeze.

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