The Energy Saving Trust is an excellent source of ideas and tips on energy saving and information on grants and subsidies currently available in the UK for energy saving measures. They are a trusted body nationally and industry-wide. Click here to visit their website.
Useful ways to save energy in your home
- Things you can do that cost nothing!
We can’t make all the necessary changes to our homes all at once, but there are many things we can do with little or no budget, doing the simplest things first. For example, we can all reduce draughts by using a draught-excluder ‘sausage dog’ across the bottom of doors, especially external doors (old jeans stuffed with rags or newspaper will do the job!) and by closing all of our curtains at night. These will instantly make our homes more comfortable and save us money. Turning down the central heating thermostat by just 1°C will immediately save over £100 per year for an average-sized house and the temperature difference is hardly noticeable – and if you find you do notice it, just put on a jumper or dig out those old vests!
- Insulating your home
Having a good ‘thermal envelope’ in your home really is vital, so insulating our homes is very important. As well as standard fibreglass insulation there are other more user-friendly (less itchy!) insulating materials that are just as effective, such as sheep’s wool, hemp and a material called SupaLoft (recycled drinks bottles!) all supplied by Thermafleece www.thermafleece.com. There is also the option of using an insulating wallpaper made by Wallrock (the full range is available from www.coveryourwall.co.uk), which is excellent for tackling those cold corners – much cheaper than installing blocks of Celotex with plasterboard over the top.
- Improve your central heating boiler’s efficiency
There are several modestly-priced proven strategies for improving your existing heating system’s efficiency. These are definitely worth exploring now that the cost of gas and other heating fuels is rising so sharply.
For many of us, our existing gas or oil boiler is probably still perfectly healthy and the carbon footprint incurred by replacing it is actually bigger than simply continuing to run it until the end of its life. However, even while you are continuing to use your existing boiler, you can improve its efficiency, burning less gas, oil or LPG, and saving more money, while also emitting less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through the boiler’s flue-pipe. Here are two proven products you could try which typically give payback in around a year, and often much sooner.
The Magnatech Boostaboiler (www.boostaboiler.co.uk) is proven to reduce your oil, gas or LPG consumption (and bills) by at least 6% and often more. Cathy, the Project Coordinator, has had one since 2015 – see photo. The unit is simply fixed to the fuel supply pipe to your boiler using the cable-ties provided.
How does it work? The intense magnetic field created by the Boostaboiler’s neodymium magnet aligns the fuel molecules in the feed pipe as they pass through this section of the supply line. With the molecules all aligned, far more of them react instantly with the oxygen when the fuel reaches the burner inside the boiler. This leads to a hotter flame and therefore less fuel is needed to heat the water in the boiler to the same temperature. The result is your boiler runs more efficiently with the Boostaboiler unit installed. The key to getting the best results is fitting the unit as close to the fuel inlet point on your boiler as possible, whilst ensuring the Boostaboiler unit is fully in contact with the pipe.
SPECIAL REDUCED PRICE: This winter (2021/22), Magnatech Technology Ltd is offering its Boostaboiler units at £85 + VAT (reduced from £199 +VAT) with free p&p to anyone who works with the Project or uses our services. If you are interested in purchasing a Boostaboiler unit at this discounted price, please get in touch with us via the Contact Page.
There is also an additive called EndoTherm (www.endotherm.co.uk) which you can add to the water in your central heating system and gain up to 15% savings on your heating bills. This product costs about £15 for a half-litre bottle (sufficient for a house with 12 radiators or less) and is verified by the Energy Saving Trust. But it’s a good idea to make sure you power-flush your heating system first to clear silt from the bottoms of pipes and radiators to maximise your heat savings – the best time to get power-flushing done is in the summer or autumn before you need to switch the heating on for the winter season. Then once the power-flushing process is complete, you or your plumber can add the EndoTherm fluid to your central heating circuit.
How does it work? Typically, our central-heating radiators contain many bubbles and air pockets on their inside surfaces and these tend to reduce how much the central heating hot water can actually reach the metal on the inside wall of the radiator (see diagram below left). This reduced contact means that the amount of heat that can get out of your radiators and into your home is reduced. This causes more heating fuel (gas, oil or LPG) to be used to achieve the temperature you want around your home – and this of course has to be paid for! EndoTherm is a ‘surfactant’. This means that it improves the contact of the hot water inside your radiators with the inner surface of the metal radiator shell. With Endotherm dissolved in the central heating water, the number of those unhelpful bubbles and air pockets is substantially reduced (see diagram below right). This then allows the hot water inside your radiators to give out much more heat into the rooms in your home. The end result is lower heating bills, which is something we all want.
EndoTherm is completely compatible with normal central heating corrosion inhibitors and will last for at least 6 years. So to get the best value out of it, make sure you are not likely to need to drain your heating system for any refurbishment work for several years, otherwise you will lose the Endotherm and have to replace it.
- Major retrofits
Various major retrofit options are available, including heat pumps. Air source heat pumps (ASHPs) are typically £6000-£16,000. Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are generally £20,000-£60,000 depending on whether it runs off a ‘slinky’ (coils of pipe buried under your lawn) or off boreholes drilled deep into the ground (very costly). These are usually combined with upgraded insulation in your home and MVHR (mechanical ventilation and heat recover).
New double glazing is also an option, switching from old glazing units to modern high efficiency units, or even triple glazing. In general, however, such major refits are very expensive and are only worthwhile when the existing heating system or old double glazing has reached the end of its life.
Every house is different, so householders should seek sound and impartial advice before spending anything. Poor quality retrofits are a nightmare to put right and this can waste huge amounts of money, materials and energy. So it’s best to do your homework first.
- Solar power
Installing rooftop solar PV panels, combined with an iBoost (www.solariboost.co.uk) or an Apollo GEM unit (www.apollosolarelectric.co.uk) for injecting excess solar power into the immersion heater in your hot water tank, is a very effective way of using all of your solar power virtually all of the time – and it cuts your gas bills too.
Alternatively, installing a battery would allow you to store any unused solar power for later usage eg for charging an electric car, or for powering modern efficient electric heaters, such as Rointe (www.rointe.com/uk) or Herschel (www.herschel-infrared.co.uk). And Far-infrared heaters can keep you warm even in a cold room. Carefully designed, such a heating system could make it possible for your home to go off-grid so you don’t need to buy any gas, oil or LPG for heating your home ever again.
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) don’t sell electricity or send out bills – they operate the cable network that brings electricity to homes, schools, businesses and communities in the south of England and in Scotland.
To help children learn about the dangers of electricity and how to stay safe around electricity, SSEN have created some fun online computer games.
Power cuts – National power cut number 105
105 is the national helpline number for reporting power cuts. Make a note of 105 so you can get help if there’s a power outage in your area.
Do you need extra help during a power cut?
For some people, a power cut can cause real difficulties and distress. You could be eligible for extra help during a power cut if:
- You rely on powered medical equipment
- You have a disability, or have a vision or hearing impairment
- You are chronically or acutely ill
- You have children under 5 at home
- You are over 60
Apply for extra support by contacting SSEN’s Priority Services Register. To register yourself, or someone you think would benefit, call 0800 294 3259 (or textphone 0800 316 5457) to discuss your requirements, or visit www.ssen.co.uk/priorityservices
With your consent, SSEN can also pass your details onto your energy supplier and gas transporter (e.g. SGN). These companies may offer you Priority Services too.
SGN looks after the network of gas pipes that provide mains gas to communities in southern England and in Scotland. Like SSEN they don’t sell energy or send out bills.
SGN are very keen to provide people with safety information about gas appliances:
1) Vital information about the dangers of Carbon Monoxide fumes from poorly-maintained gas appliances, is available by visiting https://www.sgn.co.uk/help-and-advice/keeping-gas-safe/carbon-monoxide
2) SGN has also been pioneering a Locking Cooker Valve which helps to prevent elderly householders, or those with dementia or autism, from unintentionally turning on or leaving on their gas cooker. Locking Cooker Valves are available free of charge. You can get information on how to obtain this important safety device by clicking here.