Over the past few years, you’ve no doubt heard a lot of talk about sustainability and the urgent need for people around the world to reduce their carbon footprint. While much of the heavy lifting falls onto the shoulders of large manufacturing companies, every household also has a significant role to play. Being more eco-friendly can also save you money in the long run, so we’ve put together a list of suggestions on how to be more sustainable to help you reduce your energy bills.
Insulate your hot water tank
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimate that you can save around £20 a year by insulating your hot water tank with a British Standard jacket that is 80mm thick. Over time this adds up to considerable savings and the insulation will also improve the sustainability of your home. The EST say that you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 530kg with hot water tank insulation, which is great news for anyone who wants to reduce their carbon footprint.
Insulation placed onto exposed hot water pipes ensures the water stays hotter for longer, so you rely less on your boiler to keep it warm. If the pipes are accessible, you should be able to add the insulation quite easily yourself. However, if you cannot reach them, you may need to hire a professional to add the insulation safely.
Draughtproof your home
Draughtproofing is another good way of reducing energy costs and making your home more sustainable. According to the EST, you could save around £30 a year by draughtproofing your doors and windows and a further £20 a year if you have an unused chimney.
It’s a task that doesn’t require much effort as it simply involves blocking up unwanted gaps that let warm air out and cold air in. Saving warm air means less energy is used to keep your home warm, which will also be reflected in your energy bills. You can find a whole range of products at all the big DIY stores, and you should expect to pay around £200 to draughtproof your whole house.
Air source heat pumps
Air source heat pumps offer a cost-effective way of lowering your energy bills and reducing the impact your home can have on the environment. It’s a renewable energy system that uses heat from the outside air to supply your home with hot water and heating and is predicted by the EST to become the cheapest and most low carbon form of heating in years to come.
There are several great benefits that come with using air source heat pumps, such as lowering the carbon footprint of your home and saving money on energy bills across the year. Air pumps can be used for both heating and cooling, giving you much more control over the temperature of your home through the cold and warm months.
Compared to conventional heating system, the installation process is easy and usually doesn’t require any planning permission (although always check with your local authority). You can also expect the system to last for a very long time when well maintained, in some cases up to 20 years, and many are supplied with long warranties.
Upgrade your lighting
There are a variety of things you can do to upgrade the lighting in your home while making it greener. Lighting accounts for around 10-20% of your electricity usage, so it’s a good idea to find ways to lower your costs. Switching from traditional (incandescent) light bulbs to LED bulbs will dramatically reduce the amount of energy being used every time you turn them on. Uswitch estimate that installing 5 low energy light bulbs can save you up to £32 a year. LED bulbs also do not contain any mercury, which is better for the environment once they are disposed of.
If you want to go a step further, consider using smart light systems that are synced with your smartphone or voice assistant, so you have full control without having to turn flick a switch. From turning them on or off, to adjusting the brightness and scheduling the lighting, it can all be conveniently controlled from the palm of your hand.
Use thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
Installing individual radiator heating controls could be another options worth considering. TRVs use sensors to detect when a room is too hot or cold, and then respond accordingly, opening or closing the valve to increase or reduce the amount of hot water flowing into the radiator.
TRVs offer the double benefit of helping to regulate your energy use and save you money, although it can be difficult to calculate how much exactly as there are several factors to consider, including the performance of your radiators, insulation and the number of rooms they are installed in. If you want to find out more, you can find them at all major DIY stores and are easy to install on domestic systems.
Install a smart meter
You may have already been contacted by your energy provider about installing a smart meter. They provide an easy way to monitor your energy usage around the home, which can be particularly useful if you are worried about high bills. As of March 2020, there were 15.5 million smart meters installed in homes across England, Wales and Scotland. Energy Suppliers have been tasked by the government to ensure everyone is offered one by the end of 2024, which amounts to a total of 50 million gas and electricity meters.
They provide real time information about your energy use, so you can make changes where needed and save money. Lowering your energy usage will also help you reduce emissions, which will make your home even more sustainable and kinder to the environment. Another added bonus is that you do not have to directly pay for your smart meter. Rather, the accumulated costs of all installations are paid for by consumers, which is built into your energy bills.