Take Action On... Home Energy

Never have we all been so aware of the energy we use in our home and gardens as the winter of 22/23 with energy prices high and temperatures low. As well as a high cost in money terms it is also a high cost in terms of the damage to the climate if that energy has to come from fossil fuels. The UK now generates over a third of its electricity each year from renewables, and this proportion continues to increase".

However, a lot of electricity is made from natural gas (and occasionally coal-fired power stations this winter) and of course the gas we use in our homes for cooking and heating also comes from fossil fuels, so the less we use overall the better for the planet as well as our pocket.

Here are some ideas for how you can take positive action to reduce your energy use and be kinder to the planet.

Insulating your home can be one of the biggest impacts on your energy use. Whilst this entails an initial cost for installation, it will save you money in the future as less heat will escape from your home, reducing your energy bills. It can also help when selling your home.

  • Insulate your loft. The recommended amount is a 270mm thickness of insulation. If you also want to use your loft for storage you can use ‘loft legs’ to enable you to put additional flooring over the insulation.
  • Insulate your walls and floors.
  • Draught-proof your windows, doors, chimneys and any other places where there are draughts (but ensure there is still ventilation).
  • Insulate water tanks
  • Add radiator reflectors on uninsulated external walls

See the Energy Saving Trust’s website for more detail. Measures to help reduce home heat loss - Energy Saving Trust

  • Turn your heating thermostat down a degree, and reduce the radiator thermostats (if you have them) in the rooms that you don’t often use.
  • For some households, where you are not at home at regular times, a smart thermostat may help to reduce the household energy usage as you can turn the heating on when you’re on the way home rather than leaving it on schedule, and using energy when you are not in.
  • Turn your hot water thermostat down a degree or two- between 60-65 degrees centigrade is ideal. (Not below 60 degrees due to the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.)
  • Wash laundry at 30 degrees and with full loads only. Also get a few wears out of your skirts, trousers and jumpers before washing them. They don’t need to be washed after every wear unless they get very dirty.
  • Dry washing outdoors rather than use a tumble dryer. Even if it’s not a very hot day, a bit of warmth and a breeze will do the job.
  • Buy energy efficient appliances when they need replacing. Buying energy efficient products - Energy Saving Trust
  • Replace all light bulbs with LED bulbs wherever you can.
  • Fully switch off appliances such as televisions, computers and lights when not in use rather than leave on standby, and generally use electrical appliances less.
  • Switch off lights as you leave a room.

There are many suppliers out there offering electricity entirely generated by renewable sources.  These tariffs are no more expensive than ones that include fossil fuel-generated power.  Many of these electricity tariffs can be accompanied by a gas tariff where the supplier will offset the carbon cost by investing in emission reduction schemes (such as planting trees).

As well as not costing us more than the effort to change supplier (an activity that Ofgem has made much easier recently), demanding renewable energy tariffs will stimulate growth in the provision of renewable energy, hence reducing the carbon intensity of the grid. National Grid: Live (iamkate.com)

If you can afford to, you can consider installing solar panels and/or a heat pump.

Solar panels

In 2022, Central Bedfordshire Council ran a ‘Solar Together’ scheme, a group-buying scheme to offer solar panels to residents at a competitive price.  You can find out more about installing solar panels in Central Bedfordshire here. Make your own electricity with solar photovoltaic panels | Central Bedfordshire Council

You can also get solar installed by your energy supplier or local companies.

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps would replace your gas boiler. They work by moving heat from outside your home to inside. You may need extra insulation in your home or to increase the size of your radiators. You can find out more about heat pumps here:

Heat your home with a heat pump | Central Bedfordshire Council

Grants and other financial help

You may be able to get help through your energy company. Help from your energy supplier: the Energy Company Obligation - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, you could get a grant to cover part of the cost of replacing fossil fuel heating systems with a heat pump or biomass boiler. Apply for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme: Overview - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

For more information in general about energy saving, see Energy Saving Trust

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