Improving Your Home’s Energy Efficiency: A Guide

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Improving your home’s energy efficiency can make a huge difference to your energy bills. As well as saving money, it can also help you to save the planet, driving down your household’s carbon footprint
Energy efficiency isn’t just about using less energy. It’s about finding more energy efficient ways to live your life, without compromising your lifestyle. How can you improve energy efficiency in your home? Why is it so important to improve energy efficiency? And are there any incentives or initiatives to help you improve your energy efficiency? Let’s take a look.
Last update: June 2022

As you may have heard on the news, the UK energy market is currently under an immense amount of stress as a result of a global gas shortage driving up costs and putting several energy suppliers out of business. To learn more about this and stay updated on a daily basis you can read our page on the UK energy crisis.

Energy prices are likely to rise this year, with Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap rising to pre-Covid levels in April 2021. As such, it’s more important than ever to be proactive in improving your household’s energy efficiency.

What are some ways in which we could increase energy efficiency?

When we think about improving energy efficiency, we tend to think about making huge, expensive household alterations. But while replacing your windows and doors with more efficient alternatives, replacing your boiler for a more efficient model or improving your ability to control your energy use (and spend) are powerfully effective, energy-efficiency needn’t be expensive. Sometimes, a simple combination of diligence, compromise, care and attention is all that it takes to reduce your energy consumption and drive down your bills.

What are 10 ways to conserve energy?

You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to conserve energy. Nor do you necessarily need to sit quietly in the cold and dark, letting life pass you by. It’s simply a matter of identifying the little instances of energy waste around your home and clamping down on them.

With that in mind, here are 10 ways in which you can conserve energy in your home:

  • Replace any remaining incandescent light bulbs in your home. These waste 90% of the energy they use on heat to generate light. Replacing them with LED or CFL bulbs can save up to £55 over the lifetime of each bulb.
  • Switch off electricity vampires like DVD players, TVs, games consoles etc. at the wall when not in use. This can save around £68 on your annual energy bills.
  • When shopping for new gadgets and devices, choose energy-efficient options. For instance, an LED TV uses much less energy than an LCD and 30% as much as a plasma screen.
  • Invest in a smart thermostat for your boiler. They cost around £220 to install but can save you over £300 a year on your heating bills.
  • Keep draughts out of your home by blocking or sealing areas where they occur.
  • Only use as much water as you need when boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea or coffee.
  • If your home uses electric storage heaters, adjust your settings regularly to compensate for the weather.
  • Whenever you leave a room, make sure everything that uses energy (including lights) is switched off.
  • If you have an Economy 7 meter, charge your phone, laptop, tablet etc. at night when energy is cheaper.
  • Program your washing machine or dishwasher to work at night when energy is cheaper… provided that it won’t wake anyone up.

What are 3 ways we could increase energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is all about reducing energy waste. The Papernest team are always on hand to help you find the cheapest energy tariff for your needs so you never waste money on your energy.

However, these savings can be enhanced when you make these 3 simple to improve you energy efficiency rating.

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Install a smart meter

A smart meter is a great tool for any home, and can help you take control of your energy use and spending without costing you a penny. A smart meter automatically transmits your usage data to your supplier. It also has an In Home Display Unit so you can see how much energy you’re using in real-time.

Add smart plugs and strips to your wall sockets

Some devices can use 80% as much energy when on standby as when active. Investing in smart plugs and strips can switch these devices off rather than leaving them on standby without you needing to switch them off at the wall.

Open the curtains and blinds

This one can combat energy waste very effectively, and it won’t cost you a penny. Take advantage of the lighter, brighter spring mornings. Throw open your curtains and blinds as early as possible and close them as late in the day as you can. This allows you to maximise the free heat and light energy that you get from the sun. The more energy-efficient your windows, the more heat from the sun they admit and seal into your home.

How do you optimise your energy usage?

Very often, making energy savings is less about abstaining from energy use than optimising the energy you use. So that you squeeze as much value out of the energy you use as possible without compromising your lifestyle. For instance, did you know that reducing the temperature of your thermostat by just one degree can save around £75 on your energy bill?

Here are some tips for optimising your energy usage.

energy efficiency

Know your Economy 7 hours

An Economy 7 meter gives you cheaper energy during off-peak hours. The Papernest team can help you find an Economy 7 tariff that saves as much as 50% on your off-peak energy. But do you know when your off-peak hours are? These can vary around the country. Find out yours in the table below.

Area Off-Peak Timings
Eastern area 7 hours between 11pm and 7am
East Midlands area 7 hours between 11pm and 7am
London area 7 hours between 11pm and 7am
Merseyside & North Wales area 7 hours between 12am and 8am
Midlands area 7 hours between 11:30pm and 8am
North East area 7 hours between 12:30am and 7:30am
North West area 7 hours between 12:30am and 7:30am
North Scotland area All meters have different settings
South Scotland area 7 hours between 10pm and 8:30am
South East area 10.30pm to 5.30am and 12.30am to 7.30am
Southern area 7 hours between 11:30pm and 6:30am
South Wales area All meters have different settings
South West area All meters have different settings
Yorkshire area 7 hours between 12:30am and 7:30am

Finding ways to increase your off-peak usage can seriously increase your energy optimisation.

How do you calculate energy efficiency?

Every wondered how energy efficient your devices (and household) are? There’s actually a simple formula to help you calculate this.

To calculate energy efficiency you need to divide the useful energy output by the energy input or initial energy. For instance, the reason incandescent bulbs are so inefficient is because they create light by heating a filament. This means that around 90% of the energy the bulb consumes is wasted creating heat that you will never feel.

What is a good energy efficiency ratio?

The Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of a device or appliance is the ratio of energy used to the wattage required to power it. For instance, when buying a new fridge you’ll need to consider the ratio of wattage to cooling energy in BTUs.

So, if a fridge that uses 10,000 BTU in cooling energy per hour and requires 12,000 W to run has an EER of 8.3 EER. An appliance is considered energy-efficient if its EER is above 12.

Why is energy efficiency important?

Energy efficiency is important for helping us drive down our energy spending as a nation. Between us, we’re overspending on our energy to the tune of around £800 million. The right energy tariff can make all the difference (and the Papernest team will always help you find it). But boosting your energy efficiency can help you maximise your savings.

Energy efficiency also impacts our environment. While many of us are on green energy plans, renewable energy only accounts for around 40% of our national energy fuel mix. The rest comes from nuclear power or fossil fuels like gas and oil. The less energy we all use (and the more of us make the switch to renewable suppliers), the more CO2 we can keep out of our atmosphere.

energy efficiency

Energy efficiency in buildings

Building standards today have come a long way in terms of ensuring that energy efficiency is built into the fabric of every new home. A set of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) have been developed to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s construction industry, helping to deliver government-mandated carbon reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.

Energy efficiency in industry

Our commitment to energy efficiency doesn’t stop at home. Indeed, the Committee on Climate Change has highlighted the government’s ambitions to ensure that commercial and industrial energy consumers to make a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. This will be instrumental in helping the UK meet its 2050 targets.

Energy efficiency best practices for businesses

If you run your own business, this can be a great opportunity to improve energy efficiency, reduce your company’s carbon footprint, and even reduce operational costs.

Some examples of best practice in business include:

  • Benchmark your energy consumption compared to others in your industry.
  • Get free advice and consultations from The Carbon Trust.
  • Install a smart meter (yes, you can get them for businesses too).
  • Upgrade your lighting to LED or CFL.
  • Install timers and sensors to prevent light from being wasted in empty rooms and corridors.
  • Power down computers and office equipment at the end of every day.

Incentives to reduce energy usage

The Government and energy watchdog Ofgem are trying to get the UK on its way to carbon neutrality by 2050. As such, there are a number of incentives to reduce energy usage, lower carbon emissions and improve efficiency.

Let’s take a look…

What is the Green Homes Grant?

The Green Homes Grant is designed to offset the cost of making improvements for low-carbon heating and insulation in your home. Under the scheme, you can claim up to 66% of the cost of renovations up to £5,000. Those in receipt of income-related benefits may claim up to £10,000 or 100% of costs.

What is the Energy Efficiency Directive?

The Energy Efficiency Directive is a European initiative that requires all EU member countries to reduce their energy consumption and improve energy efficiency. Because it was established in 2012, several years before Brexit, it does still inform UK energy efficiency policy.

When do you need an Energy Performance Certificate?

Energy Performance Certificates are an integral way of ensuring that a potential home purchase or rental property will meet energy efficiency standards. You need one whenever you put your house on the market for sale or private rental. These need to be update every 10 years.

EPC ratings are graded from A to G. After April 2023, landlords will not be allowed to let any buildings which have an EPC rating lower than E.

When is World Energy Efficiency Day?

World Energy Efficiency Day is celebrated on the 5th of March. It is an international celebration of energy-efficiency technology, designed to raise awareness of all the ways in which we can reduce energy consumption without compromising our lifestyles (or business profits).

Maximise your savings with energy efficiency and the right tariff

There are all kinds of ways to save energy at home and at work. Make sure you capitalise on these savings with the right energy tariff. The Papernest team can find the perfect energy plan for your needs and budget, including 100% renewable and carbon-neutral tariffs.

Want to know more?

Call us today on 0330 818 6225.

We’re available from 8am to 6pm.

Would you like to know more about saving on energy bills? Great! Check out these related articles

  1. Utility Bills
  2. Energy saving tips
  3. Government energy grant

Call us to switch your energy supplier for free!

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What are five ways to save energy?

5 great ways in which every household can save energy (without spending a fortune) include:

  • Turn down your thermostat by just 1 degree.
  • Unplug energy vampires like TVs, games consoles, DVD / Blu Ray players etc.
  • Charge your phone and other devices at night when off-peak energy is cheaper.
  • Replace as many incandescent bulbs as possible with energy-efficient equivalents.
  • Stop filling the whole kettle for a single cup of tea. Just using the amount of water you need could save enough energy to power your TV for a whole day.

How do you maximise energy efficiency?

The key to maximising energy efficiency is identifying the sources of energy waste (from draughts to inefficient insulation to energy vampires) and developing a strategy to rectify them or mitigate their impact on your energy spend.

Why keep an energy efficiency journal?

Improving energy efficiency can be like trying to lose weight. It’s harder to stay motivated when you can’t see the results of your efforts.

An energy efficiency journal is a great way to track your energy usage, and the impact of energy saving measures around the home. So you can be assured of the progress you’re making.

What is building energy efficiency?

This refers to the energy efficiency standards that are inherent in today’s construction methods, Every newly built property needs to adhere to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).

Updated on 15 Jun, 2022

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