Saving energy

11 Point Guide to Saving Energy at Home

Introduction to Saving Energy

Welcome to Going Green’s ‘11 Point Guide to Saving Energy at Home’ – this guide has been written to be your roadmap to a more sustainable, eco-friendly, and cost-effective home. As energy prices fluctuate and the impacts of climate change increase, it is important to conserve energy. This guide is designed to inspire you to adopt sustainable and practical strategies that will reduce your carbon footprint and lower your energy bills.

Each of the 11 points in this guide will help you move another step towards a more environmentally conscious and energy-efficient home. This guide will show you that even small actions can make a significant difference.

Section 1 – Energy-Efficient Appliances and Devices

Selecting the right appliances and devices can play an important role in making your home more sustainable, whilst saving energy. In the UK there is a clear guide that consumers can use to understand how energy efficient an appliance is. Both energy labels and specifications of certain appliances are available for consumers to access. Therefore, when choosing a new appliance, consumers have the opportunity to opt for an appliance that has is highly rated for energy efficiency on its label. This is essential to help consumers make informed decisions.

In order to understand if an appliance has a high energy efficiency rating, you must understand the information on the labels. Typically, the label on the appliance will include a scale from A to G. With A being the highest energy efficiency rating and G being the lowest. In some cases, these labels will also contain specific energy consumption figures. These figures can help consumers to compare the efficiency of different models to help them choose the most sustainable appliance.

For appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines, it is important to prioritise energy efficiency as it can significantly lower your overall energy consumption. When choosing these appliances look for features such as variable temperature settings, efficient water usage, and eco-friendly modes.

Responsibly using your appliances and devices, after purchase, can further contribute to energy conservation. This can include unplugging when not in use, even when turned off electronic devices can continue to draw power, this is known as ‘phantom’ or ‘vampire’ energy consumption. Unplugging devices and appliances at the power source can reduce this unnecessary energy drain.

Other ways to minimise your energy consumption when using appliances, especially in the kitchen is to use lids on pots and pans to lower heat loss and use the correct burner size when heating and cooking food. When using the washing machine or dishwasher make sure they are fully loaded, this will maximise energy and water usage. All of these tips will increase an appliances efficiency, whilst also reducing its overall use.

These practices can increase the performance and longevity of your appliances and devices, whilst contributing to a more sustainable and eco-conscious household.

Section 2 – Home Insulation

Insulation within our homes helps to create a comfortable environment for its occupants. Insulation is not only important for keeping the heat in during the colder months, it is also important for keeping our homes cool during the hotter summer months. This insulation acts as a thermal barrier, that minimises the heat exchange between the interior and exterior of your home. This can reduce your reliance on heating and cooling systems; saving energy and cutting your energy bills.

You can assess where your home needs insulating by checking key areas, including walls, windows, doors, and loft/attic space. When saving energy make sure you add or upgrade your insulation if necessary. You may find if you live in an older home, you may have inadequate insulation, if this is the case, we advise that you invest in insulating these areas in your property.

For the walls, cavity wall insulation can be applied, this will reduce heat loss and will increase energy efficiency. Double glazing our windows can also be vital to saving energy, as well as insulating our doors. These practices can help to stabilise an indoor temperature whatever the weather.

To make insulating your home fully effective make sure you seal any gaps or drafts, you can do this by using weather stripping and caulking techniques. To prevent warm or cool air from escaping, make sure gaps are sealed, especially around doors and windows.

Attics and lofts are prime areas for heat loss. Make sure to insulate these areas with fibreglass or foam boards to optimise your home’s energy conservation. 

Due to the unpredictability of the weather in the UK, a well-insulated home can provide resilience to the fluctuations in temperature. Insulation can create several benefits including saving energy, reducing energy bills, and creating a sustainable and comfortable home.

For more information on how you can insulate your home, read ‘The Ultimate Guide to Insulation’.

Insulation

Section 3 – Heating and Cooling Efficiency

The weather in the UK can fluctuate from cold winters to warmer summers. Therefore, optimising heating and cooling efficiency is important for comfort and for saving energy. First of all, ensure that your thermostat is at an optimal temperature. During colder months, set your temperature between 18-21ᴼC to keep your indoor environment cozy, but keeping your home eco-conscious. When you are away, make sure to lower this temperature.

During summer months, make sure you maintain a temperature that will reduce any strain on cooling systems.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, also known as HVAC systems, need regular maintenance. Decreased performance of these systems can be due to dirty filters, clogged ducts, or malfunctioning components, leading to an increase in energy consumption. Ensure you schedule annual check ups that will enable any issues to be promptly addressed. This will help to maintain a comfortable indoor environment, whilst saving energy, reduce energy bills, and extend the lifespan of your HVAC system.

Programmable thermostats can also be installed so that homeowners can automate temperature adjustments based on their daily routines. This can prevent unnecessary energy use when your home is unoccupied. Smart thermostats can be used on mobile devices, which allows you to remotely control your home’s temperature.

Section 4 – Lighting

Changing your lighting can offer a significant opportunity when saving energy in your home. You can do this by switching traditional incandescent lightbulbs to LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs. LED bulbs consume less energy and have longer lifespans, which reduces the need to replace them frequently and minimises waste.

One of the simplest ways of saving energy is to turn lights off when not in use. Not only will this conserve energy, but it will also extend the bulb’s lifespan. Encouraging switching off lights in your home reinforces its importance to carry out energy conservation within your daily routine.

You can increase energy efficiency by using natural light, during daylight hours. This can reduce your reliance on artificial lighting. Adjusting window coverings, such as blinds or curtains can help you to optimise natural light, as well as reducing heat gain or loss depending on the time of year.

Section 5 – Water Conservation

Small measures when conserving water can be significantly impactful, as they can reduce water consumption and energy usage. First of all, you should make sure that any leaks within your home are fixed promptly. Over time, a dripping tap or a leaky pipe can result in water wastage. Carrying out regular inspections and making sure repairs are carried out quickly can prevent further damage to your home, can conserve water, and will also be saving energy.

You can increase water conservation in your home by installing low-flow faucets and showerheads. These are designed to maintain water pressure at an optimal rate, whilst minimising the amount of water that is used.  This can lead to your household saving energy and water, without changing your daily routine.

When considering your water heater, it is important to opt for a model that is energy efficient. Traditional water heaters can use large amounts of energy, investing in an energy efficient water heater will conserve more water and will be saving energy.

When considering your water heater, it is important to opt for a model that is energy efficient. Traditional water heaters can use large amounts of energy, investing in an energy efficient water heater will conserve more water and will be saving energy.

Energy efficient models, including heat pumps, are designed to deliver hot water when needed, to minimise standby energy losses that usually come with traditional models.

For more information on heat pumps for your home, read ‘The Ultimate Guide to Heat Pumps’.

Section 6 – Energy-Efficient Windows

Windows can play an important role in regulating the temperature of our homes. Investing in energy efficient window solutions can help to increase the sustainability of your living space.

By installing windows with double glazing or triple glazing can increase your home’s energy efficiency. Unlike single pane windows. These multi-pane windows have insulating layers of air or gas that sits between the glass panes. These layers act as a thermal barrier, in order to reduce heat transfer between the interior and exterior of the home. Therefore, they can reduce the need for you to use your heating and cooling systems.

These windows are effective for saving energy and can also help you save on your energy bills.

Using window coverings can be important for conserving energy through preventing heat loss or gain. In winter months, thick curtains or blinds can act as a barrier to prevent heat from escaping through the windows.

In the warmer summer months, these coverings can be used to block sunlight, which can help to reduce your need for cooling systems.

Most windows now come equipped with low-emissivity (low-e) coatings. This coating enhances the windows’ insulating properties by reflecting infrared light. Therefore, a more consistent indoor temperature is maintained, which reduces the strain on heating and cooling systems. Overall, saving energy.

Section 7 – Smart Home Technology

Smart home technologies are a powerful tool for enhancing the energy efficiency of your home, as well as increasing both comfort and convenience. These technologies can streamline your daily routines and help you to create a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.

Smart thermostats can help you to have precise control over your home’s heating and cooling systems. This allows you to create a schedule that is personal to those within your home, and it allows you to remotely adjust temperatures if necessary. Not only is this increasing your comfort at home, but it is also saving energy, as it allows your HVAC system to operate efficiently.

Energy monitoring devices can provide you with real-time information regarding energy consumption, which can help you to identify areas within your home that needs sustainable improvement to optimise your energy use.

The remote controlling of your lights and appliances can also occur through the use of smart home technology. Through these technologies you can manage your lighting and appliances from anywhere. This is incredibly convenient and is great for saving energy. Many of these technologies also have automation features, to save your preferences and routines.

Section 8 – Renewable Energy Sources

Turning to renewable energy is an important sustainable choice when moving away from traditional energy sources, such as coal, gas, and oil. One of the most popular and accessible options are solar panels.

Solar panels involve the capturing of sunlight and converting it into electricity. There are many benefits to solar power, including that it produces renewable and clean energy that is used to generate electricity without emitting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Solar panels also come with the opportunity to become energy independent, as homeowners can generate their own electricity. There is also the potential to sell excess power back to the grid. This is through the UK Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

Those with solar panels have seen long term cost savings on their electricity bills. This is due to the initial investment being gradually offset by the reduced reliance on fossil fuels.

For more information on solar panels for the home, see ‘The Ultimate Guide to Solar Panels’.

Other options for renewable energy sources include wind and geothermal energy. 

Wind energy is used through harnessing the power of the wind through wind turbines to generate electricity. Wind farms, both onshore and offshore, are becoming increasingly prevalent as they can tap into the constant and renewable energy from the wind, from a number of locations.

Geothermal energy involves the harnessing of the internal heat of the Earth. This is carried out through geothermal power plants or residential geothermal heat pumps. This form of renewable energy generation can provide a consistent, stable, and sustainable source of power.

Section 9 – Energy Audits

Conducting a thorough energy audit survey can begin the journey of making your home more energy efficient and sustainable. A home energy audit is a comprehensive examination of a residential property to identify areas that have a low energy efficiency. These audits will result in suggested tailored improvements to increase your energy efficiency. This can be an invaluable tool when saving energy, lowering your energy bills, and reducing your carbon footprint.

Home energy audits involve the conducting of a systematic inspection of several key areas within your home, including insulation, windows, doors, heating and cooling systems, lighting, and appliances. The aim of the audit is to identify and pinpoint key areas where energy is being wasted. Targeted solutions for improvements can be proposed.

The audit can be done by a professional or can be carried out by the homeowner themselves. This can be done through checklists and guidelines that can be provided through energy agencies. Self-audits will mostly identify common inefficiencies, including drafts, outdated appliances, or inadequate insulation.

If you would like a more comprehensive assessment, seek a professional. Professional energy auditors have the expertise and tools to conduct a more thorough evaluation. Specialised tools can help professionals to identify hidden issues that may not be apparent during a self-audit. Professional auditors can also provide detailed analysis of your energy consumption, and an suggest customised solutions for saving energy and optimising efficiency.

These audits can help you as a homeowner to make informed decisions about energy efficient upgrades and prioritise investments that are cost effective and impactful.

Make sure to research any energy efficiency initiatives and government programmes that may offer incentives and rebates for those who wish to make improvements that have been suggested through their energy audit. Therefore, making the process financially and environmentally advantageous.

Section 10 – Behavioural Changes

To create lasting sustainability within your home, behavioural changes need to occur. Encouraging simple but effective habits among those within your home can help you all to collectively contribute significantly to saving energy.

One key aspect of instilling new behaviours is to start with small acts. For example, switching off lights and electronic devices when not in use. These examples can seem like minor acts, but they can result in substantial energy savings over time.

Other practices can include running appliances much more efficiently, such as running dishwashers and washing machines when they have a full load, as well as opting for their eco setting for saving energy. These tips can help you to maximise the use of your machines, whilst minimising energy waste.

Another important behavioural change is to adjust your thermostat, as this can directly influence the amount of energy you use. If you set your thermostat to optimal levels, instead of extreme temperatures, you can contribute to your comfort, whilst conserving energy. Wearing clothing that is appropriate for the season and using natural ventilation are additional measures that can mitigate the need to change your thermostat.

Openly communicating within your family or with those in your home about how important it is to conserve energy, can encourage the conversation about which sustainable practices will work best for your household. This also creates a shared responsibility among your family members or those you live with. You can reinforce this by having regular discussions, carrying out educational activities, and being positive about practices that are saving energy.

All of these practices can help you and your household become more mindful about sustainability and environmental stewardship. This can help your household to be powerful agents of positive change for a sustainable and eco-friendly future.

Section 11 – Government Incentives and Rebates

The UK Government is increasingly recognising the importance of promoting energy efficiency and sustainability. Therefore, there are various programs, incentives, grants, and rebates for those wishing the conserve energy within their homes. These benefits are there to encourage homeowners to adopt sustainable practices and invest in energy efficient upgrades.

For example, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) allows homeowners that have installed solar PV panels to feed any excess energy generated back to the grid. Under the SEG, homeowners will receive payment or credits from their energy supplier for this excess energy.

To keep up to date with new grants regarding making your home more sustainable, see our grants page for regular updates: Grants.

When wanting to make your home more sustainable, ensure you carry out research to check which programs, initiatives, grants, and rebates apply to you.

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