Saving energy in the home – where to begin

The key to energy saving in the home is efficiency. More efficient insulation, for instance, leads to more efficient heating systems as less heat is lost.

Lowering energy bills is an aim that every homeowner has in mind, and the only way to achieve this in these days of rising costs is to use less. For a few useful tips on how to start using less gas and electricity – and at no extra cost – read on.

saving energyElectrical items and standby mode

We’ll start by looking at electricity, a vital but increasingly expensive source of energy that is wasted to surprising levels without us realising. For instance, are you aware that more than three quarters of the energy used by a simple device such as a DVD player is accounted for while the unit is not actually being used?

It’s true – leave a DVD player on permanent standby and you will use over 75% more electricity than is actually needed to watch a film.

‘Standby’ is a mode that is available on most electrical appliances – televisions, stereo music players, computers and videos all have standby modes – and all will consume electricity while on standby. Ask yourself the question – do you really need the microwave left on standby when not in use, or the television? Switching off at the wall is not a great disadvantage, after all, and can lead to significant reductions in electricity usage over a year.

Likewise, any items that are charged at the mains should be unplugged once they signal that they are fully charged, as they do not stop using electricity when this point is reached.

Heating the home efficiently

Heating is essential in any home, especially when the cold winter months begin to roll in. There are a number of simple and common sense ways of increasing the efficiency of your home, and reducing the wastage that inefficient insulation can incur.

Curtains are an important factor. It may be worth hanging heavier curtains in winter time, and drawing them earlier than necessary in order to aid insulation. Hang curtains over doors, too, as even closed doors are leakage areas that can see a great deal of heat escape.

Plan your room sensibly so that no heavy furniture is placed in front of a radiator. Radiators give out heat by way of – as their name conveys – radiation, and anything directly in front of the appliance, a chair or a sofa for instance, will block the ability of the heat to radiate through the room.

This problem, plus poor insulation, leads to the heating system having to work harder to heat the room to the required temperature, using more energy – gas or electricity – as a result.

Other tips for saving on heating costs are to keep the doors to unused rooms firmly shut, and the radiator within turned off, and to reduce the thermostat from your usual temperature by a single degree. The latter saves a surprising amount of energy across a year.

If you are out at work all day then great savings can be made by revising the timing of the heating system. If you set the heating to switch off before you go to work – say by half an hour – and to come back on a similar period before your return, you will not be heating an empty house during the day, and will still have a house that is acceptably warm and comfortable.

These are just a few worthwhile tips regarding electrical items and heating systems, and we will visit further advice in a later article.

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