Category

Energy Saving

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

Save Energy With Big Energy Saving Week

big energy saving week

big energy saving week

Disclosure: this post is in partnership with Smart Energy GB

This week is Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign between the Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Citizens Advice – all about helping people to check they are on the best deal; switching tariff or supplier; and saving energy by taking control of their heating and electricity.

I’m all about saving energy (and money).  I’ve spoken a lot about energy saving in the past – here are my 15 easy (and perhaps unexpected) ways to save energy – from dusting your fridge to adjusting your TV – but what about some of the more obvious ways to save energy?

Something I haven’t covered in the past are smart meters – those handy devices that can help you save energy and money in your home by providing you with your energy use in pounds and pence, in near real time.  I don’t have one yet, but my parents do and it’s really handy just to see exactly what appliances are energy guzzlers, and the difference just turning down your heating by 1°C can make to your energy usage and bills.

free smart meter

Smart meters don’t just tell you your energy usage, but also send automatic meter readings to your utility company, meaning accurate bills, and an end to meter readings and unpredictable estimates, which is brilliant.

If you’re on a prepayment meter then with a smart meter you’ll be able to check your balance, and even top up your meter from your smartphone, online, or on the phone.  When we moved into our house in April, we had prepayment gas and electricity meters which we couldn’t change for a couple of months.  We found it was a pain in the bum having to go to the shop to top up on a regular basis.  We also always ended up buying biscuits or cakes, even if we just popped in to top up the meter, so this would have been a godsend for our wallets and hips!  Our gas meter isn’t in the most accessible place, so it was a hassle having to scramble about on the floor to top it up too.

The good news is that you don’t have to go out and buy a smart meter – by 2020 every household in Great Britain will be offered a free smart meter from their energy company, which they will also install free of charge for you.  Smart Energy GB, the national campaign behind the smart meter roll out, have put together a guide on how you can get a smart meter, with tips on how you might be able to speed up the process.

Of course, it’s not just a case of having a smart meter.  You’ve got to be able to understand how to read it!  Here’s a really handy guide on how to read and understand a smart meter display:

If you can’t see the video you can find it here.

Some Other Top Energy Saving Tips

Beyond my 15 ways to save energy there are some other simple ways to save energy.  My top tips are:

Invest in basic draught proofing for your home – such as draught proofing strips for your doors and windows.  October is a good time to do this, in preparation for winter, and the strips can be picked up cheaply from any DIY store.

Add radiator reflector foil to the walls behind your radiator.  Not only will this reflect heat back into the room, but will reduce heat loss by as much as up to 50%, especially if you’re using it on radiators that are mounted on to external walls.  Again, the foil can be picked up cheaply from any DIY store – the cheapest I’ve seen it is £4.99 a roll – so we’re not talking big bucks!

Switching to LED light bulbs when your existing bulbs run out are another great energy saving tip.  Although more expensive than traditional energy saving bulbs they are cheaper to run.  We’ve recently installed them in our bathroom, and don’t heat up when in use, compared to halogen bulbs, making them safer too.

Rather than switching off your heating when you leave your house, try and get into the habit of switching off your heating about half an hour before you’re due to leave the house.  It takes around half an hour for a house to cool down after switching off the heating, so you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference, and you’ll pocket the savings!

Do you have a smart meter?  Has it changed your behaviour, or helped you to save energy?  Do share in the comments below!

Energy Saving, Home, Home and Garden

Free Cavity Wall Insulation for Everyone!

free cavity wall insulation

Hello!  How are you?  The good news is we survived our house move in one piece (just!) and are settling into our new house nicely – which now comes with electricity, gas, and importantly, internet access and wifi!  Got to have my wifi!

We went down the DIY route and did the move ourselves, with the kind help of family and friends, and while it went well we have both vowed we are never moving again!  The whole house buying and moving process was the most stressful thing ever!  We’re now trying to put that stress behind us and right now we are busy poring over paint swatches, and getting quotes left right and centre for various work that needs done on the house.

One thing that is pressing on my mind right now in particular is cavity wall insulation, or rather lack of.  Our house is really old, and we have ridiculously high ceilings – about 11/12 foot high in the living room and hall.  Even though it’s April we’ve found it to be particularly nippy at night and really hard to heat and then keep warm.

Thankfully our property has cavity walls so is a prime candidate for cavity wall insulation.  I had a search on the internet to see what the cost of cavity wall insulation might be and was pretty over the moon to discover that British Gas are currently offering people in uninsulated homes free cavity wall insulation.  You don’t have to be a British Gas customer, and you don’t have to be in receipt of certain benefits or of pension age or over to benefit – the offer of free cavity wall insulation is open to everyone regardless of age or income.

You can find out more on the British Gas website and you can find out if your home is suitable here.

cavity wall insulation

There are a few exceptions – it’s for residential properties only; and you can’t get it if you live in a Council or housing association owned property.  If you rent you’ll need to get your landlord’s permission and if you live in a flat your neighbours have to agree to the insulation too.  British Gas won’t top up existing cavity wall insulation; and if you have damp problems they should be sorted first but apart from that, as long as you live in a house that’s suitable for cavity wall insulation then it’s yours!

Cavity wall insulation is pretty amazing – over a third of heat lost from un-insulated homes escapes through the walls, and according to Which? our heating bills could be reduced by up to £145 a year, without spending a single penny.  Even if you did have to pay for it, because some much heat leaches through un-insulated walls, it’s actually one of the single most cost effective ways to save energy in the home, so I’d completely recommend getting your hands on the free cavity wall insulation if you don’t have insulation already!

In case you’re wondering, I’m not sponsored by British Gas – I just wanted to pass on my fortuitous find!  I’ve got my appointment booked and hopefully will have it installed before long!