How to Save Energy in Your Home This Winter

23rd December 2023

Insulating Your Home

The strategic insulation of a home is imperative in conserving heat and reducing energy bills during the winter season. Paying close attention to areas like the loft, attic, and walls can significantly enhance thermal retention and energy efficiency.

Loft and Attic Insulation

Lofts and attics are common areas where heat can be lost, making up to a 25% of a home’s total heat loss if not properly insulated. Installation of effective insulation materials to a depth of 270mm is recommended, which can include:

  • Mineral wool batts
  • Loose-fill cellulose
  • Rigid foam boards

Implementing this measure ensures a substantial barrier against heat loss, leading to a warmer living space and diminished heating requirements.

Cavity Wall and Solid Wall Insulation

Cavity wall insulation is a process where insulation material is injected into the gap between the inner and outer masonry of the home’s walls. This method is particularly suited for newer homes with pre-existing wall cavities. The installation can achieve significant energy savings.

  • Insulation materials typically used: Urea-formaldehyde foam, expanded polystyrene beads, or mineral wool.

Solid wall insulation can be approached from the inside (internal) or outside (external) of the home. It is essential for older homes with solid walls where no cavity exists.

  • Internal insulation may involve fitting rigid insulation boards to the wall, or building a stud wall filled with insulation material.
  • External insulation involves applying an insulation layer and a protective render to the outside of the walls, which can also improve the building’s facade.

Draft Proofing and Windows

Effective draught-proofing is essential for energy conservation in homes during the winter months. It involves sealing gaps and enhancing window insulation to prevent heat loss, thereby reducing energy bills and conserving heat.

Sealing Gaps and Draughts

One begins by identifying and sealing gaps where air infiltrates through windows and doors. Common solutions include:

  • Self-adhesive foam strips: These are cost-effective and can be applied to the window frame to seal gaps. They’re suitable for windows and doors that are regularly opened and closed.
  • Brush or hinged-flap draught excluders: These are ideal for the bottom of doors and letterboxes to block incoming draughts.
  • Silicone sealant: This can be used for cracks in non-moving parts, such as the frames or where the window joins the wall.

Professionals can be consulted for thorough draught-proofing, which may be more efficient for complex cases such as sash windows or homes with significant draught issues.

Enhancing Window Insulation

Improving the insulation of windows is a key step:

  • Double glazing: This involves two layers of glass with a space between them to reduce heat loss. It’s an effective, although more expensive, measure that can also help with noise reduction and security.
  • Secondary glazing: This adds an extra pane of glass or plastic on the inside of the window and can be a more cost-effective alternative to double glazing.
  • Thermal curtains or blinds: These can also help prevent heat loss when drawn during colder hours, especially in the evening.

For additional efficiency, one may consider a chimney draught excluder for unused fireplaces or to block off draughts when the fireplace is not in use.

Heating Efficiency and Control

Improving heating efficiency and exercising precise control are critical for reducing energy consumption and heating bills during winter. By upgrading the boiler, implementing smart heating controls, and enhancing radiator functionality, homeowners can enjoy a warm environment without excessive spending.

Upgrading Your Boiler

Business energy broker Smarter Business suggests that upgrading to an A-rated condensing boiler can significantly reduce energy waste as they are designed to capture and reuse exhaust heat, leading to better fuel efficiency. For older systems, replacing the boiler with a new energy-efficient model typically results in lower heating bills. Homeowners are advised to choose a boiler that suits their home’s size and their usage patterns. Additionally, correctly setting the boiler flow temperature is crucial; a lower flow temperature can still adequately heat the home and conserve energy.

Smart Heating Controls

Utilising smart heating controls allows for the precise management of a home’s heating system. A programmer sets schedules for the heating to turn on and off, adapting to daily routines. A room thermostat helps maintain the desired temperature by detecting the ambient temperature and adjusting the boiler operation. Smart thermostats provide convenience through remote control via smartphones, which can lead to both more efficient heating management and increased convenience.

Radiator Improvements

Radiator performance is pivotal in a heating system’s effectiveness. Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) regulate the flow of hot water to a radiator based on the room’s temperature, offering room-specific control. Homeowners should ensure radiators are not obstructed by furniture to maximise heat distribution. Periodic bleeding of radiators is also recommended to remove trapped air, ensuring they operate efficiently.

Energy-Saving Daily Practices

Implementing energy-saving practices into one’s daily routine is fundamental in reducing energy bills and saving costs. By adjusting appliance usage and minimising standby electricity consumption, households can achieve tangible savings.

Efficient Use of Appliances

Washing Machine: Utilise your washing machine at a lower temperature, ideally 30°C, and ensure full loads for every wash. Fridge: Keep the fridge temperature at 3°C to 5°C and the freezer at -18°C, ensuring that they’re not overpacked as this demands more energy.

  • Kettle: Boil only the amount of water needed, as overfilling leads to additional energy use.
  • Oven: When cooking, use lids to retain heat and bake during off-peak hours to save on electricity costs.
  • Shower: Limit shower time and use an energy-efficient showerhead to lessen both water and energy expenditure.

Reducing Standby Electricity Consumption

Standby Power: Many electronics consume energy even when not in active use. Turning devices off at the plug can save significant amounts on energy bills annually.

  • Television: Avoid leaving the TV on standby; switch off completely when not in use.
  • Appliance Chargers: Unplug chargers for phones and laptops once the devices are fully charged.
  • Energy-Saving Mode: Engage energy-saving settings on all possible devices to decrease standby consumption.

By adopting these measures, individuals can effectively reduce their immediate energy costs and contribute to long-term savings on their electricity bills.