Continuing my mission this week to conserve more energy around my home, I’ve been picking the brains of Richard Lloyd, the Energy Saving Trust’s regional manager for the East of England. He was kind enough to give me the following tips for our 1960s-built terrace (which already has cavity wall and loft insulation installed).
1. Double glazing is expensive but it’s a great draught excluder. “It depends on what you want to spend,” Richard tells me. “But one thing about 1960s-built houses like yours is they have massive windows. You could get modern double glazing – that should be enough to exclude the draughts. But it’s a big cost.” Fortunately we got our home double glazed four years ago when we moved in as the windows were in a terrible state.
2. Invest in thick curtains and draught excluders. “A lot of the things people can do are very low cost,” says Richard. “Like draught excluders for doors. They’re very effective at keeping heat in. Closing your curtains at dusk also prevents heat escaping. The thicker the better. Nice big velvet ones are better than those cheese cloth things.” I think he means ‘voiles’!
3. Lag your water pipes. “Have your water pipes been lagged along with the other insulation you’ve had done? If not then the loft will be colder. But you can easily lag them yourself.”
4. Turn down your water tank’s thermostat. “One thing people don’t think of is turning the thermostat down on the water tank,” he explains. “Many of them turn the central heating thermostat down, but not the water tank one. If you have an airing cupboard it will probably be on the side of the tank. It doesn’t need to be as high as 70 degrees. I’ve been to some people’s houses where the water is red hot and you don’t need it that hot. Also, make sure the water tank is properly lagged.”
5. Use a dishwasher. “Everybody has heard about washing their clothes at 30 degrees to save energy. I was pleased when I heard that a dishwasher is more efficient than washing up in a sink – as long as it’s used properly. The flipside is that when you first get one you usually find you need to buy more plates!”
Unfortunately the only dishwasher in our house in me!
6. Find out if you qualify for Government grants for cavity wall and loft insulation. “Many people don’t qualify for Warm Front free insulation grants unless they are on benefits, have children in the house, are over 60 or earn less than £16,000 a year,” says Richard. “But there are still a lot of people out there who do qualify but haven’t applied for a grant.” So it’s worth checking.
One reader from Wales has been in touch with me. He was turned down for an insulation grant because his home is stone-built. Richard explains that the Warm Front programme doesn’t cover stone-built properties. “Unfortunately stone-built houses have no cavities in the walls so it’s impossible to do cavity wall insulation,” he says. “There are other techniques, such as insulating the walls from the inside, but they’re expensive and not covered by Warm Front. But there’s no reason why his roof couldn’t be insulated, although there are some homes where it’s difficult to access part of the roof."
7. Remember small changes can make a huge difference. “People often think saving energy is about some big bold statement – like putting a windmill on the side of your house,” he says. “But it’s [the small changes] that make a real difference. If everyone in the UK switched their light bulbs over to energy efficient bulbs, within a year we would save enough electricity to light our streets for five years.”
And many people are making changes. “Six months ago we got a few calls from people saying they wanted to help the environment and save money,” says Richard. “But now we’re getting a lot more calls from people saying ‘this is costing me more money’ and they’re surprised that it’s not big measures that they need to take.”
8. Change to a condensing boiler. If you watched my video yesterday you’ll know I have a Baxi back boiler which is old as the hills, but I’m reluctant to change it because it still works. However, Richard thinks it would be worth switching to a condensing boiler. “It is worth doing it,” he points out. “As a rule of thumb you’d save a third of your heating bill by changing. But even doing something smaller such as adding an accurate heating control to it would save you 17 per cent on your bill or individual room thermostats. Given how much energy prices are, it’s now more relevant for people.”
If you have any other questions for Richard let me know and I can put them to him for you.
For more information on saving energy, contact the Energy Saving Trust’s Advice Centre for free on 0800 512 012.
Got any more tips or suggestions? Have you switched to a condensing boiler? Or got any gripes about Government insulation grants? Then get it off your chest by leaving me a comment.
Have a great weekend, Piper xxx