Things the Energy Group have learnt about how to keep warm (or cool) while keeping energy bills down - from each other, from the various events they have organised and experts they have met, and from auditing/thermal-imaging other people’s houses:

 

The quick, cheap, or easy wins

  • Drawing your curtains – the heavier the better – as soon as it gets dark in winter will probably raise the temperature inside by about 1 degree.

  • You probably know where the worst draughts in your house are (you may even be able see daylight under an outside door or around a window…) – seal them. For sash windows, QLON / FS strip, to avoid draughts at meeting rail http://www.schlegel.com/flipbooks/qlon_general/en/files/inc/eb64b62650.pdf. Tesa Draught Excluder – E Profile available from various suppliers, e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tesa-Draught-Excluder-Profile-Brown/dp/B000VD5O3O. Or make a draught excluder How to make draught excluders and http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/05/how-to-make-draught-excluder.

  • If you have an unused chimney, seal it - even stuffing screwed up newspaper up the chimney will stop heat escaping.

  • Dog- and cat- flaps and letter-boxes create huge heat leaks. If you no longer have a cat or dog, the first thing you should do is seal and insulate the flap.

  • Make sure that the holes made for the cables from ceiling lights are sealed where they go into a roof space.

  • Insulation: make sure that not only your loft is well insulated, but the hatch into the loft is insulated and sealed too.

  • Insulate yourself too! Wear more clothes and turn the heating down a degree or two.

  • Change over to low-energy light bulbs and get your family into the habit of switching off lights in empty rooms and gadgets and equipment that isn’t being used. Advice on choosing LED light bulbs from The Guardian and from       https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/energy-saving-light-bulbs.html.

  • Turn down radiator thermostats or adjust timers in some rooms - the ones you rarely use or don’t use, e g, in the evenings.

  • Put radiator foil behind radiators on outside walls.

  • Insulate door panels - they are often thin wood and thermal imaging shows them losing heat. Aerogel (thin insulation) is useful for this.

  • Bookshelves can insulate a room!

  • Make sure your hot water tank is well insulated.

  • Use hot water sparingly - wash dishes just once a day, shower instead of baths, and you don’t need to wash your hair every day.

  • Switch to a green energy supplier- not everyone wants to invest in solar panels or has a suitable roof, but you could quite easily switch to a green energy supplier. 2 green electricity suppliers: Good EnergyEcotricity. And there are green energy comparison websites to help you get the best deal, including: https://www.moneysupermarket.com/gas-and-electricity/green-energy/ and https://www.simplyswitch.com/energy/guides/compare-green-energy/.

  • Keep cool in summer by using shade and keeping the heat out: draw curtains or use blinds to keep the sun out, close windows at the hottest times of day and open them at night to cool the house.

  • Get a relative humidity meter, for example: http://www.amazon.com/NEEWER%C2%AE-LCD-Temperature-Humidity-Hygrometer/dp/B004GN9EH2 . Read Damon’s review

  • Basic ventilation - don’t seal your home so completely that you suffer from condensation - open a window a crack or go one better with a heat recovery fan - see below..

 When you’ve done the easy things…

  • Don’t neglect ventilation. When you’ve sealed all your draughts you still need to ensure some ventilation in your house to avoid condensation. Something like a Ventaxia Tempra heat recovery fan will extract heat from the air leaving the house and use the heat to warm the fresh air coming in.

  • Get a more efficient boiler and control system

  • Use a high TOG underlay under your carpets

  • If you need to replace floors, install under floor foil and insulation

  • Use low emissivity film or blinds on your windows, for example Enerlogic LEP70, from www.sun-x.co.uk or www.nationalwindowfilms.co.uk

  • Seal wooden floors & skirting boards

  • Get individual radiator valves to adjust the heat in each room according to need (Damon’s Radbot from https://www.vestemi.com/ or Honeywell TheraPro HR90)

Major interventions

  • If you have cavity walls you could have the cavity filled with insulation.

  • If you don’t have cavity walls you could consider insulating your walls: fixing insulated, vapour-proof plasterboard to some walls or ceilings or having external insulation fitted.

  • You might like to think about solar panels if you have a suitable roof. Even though the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) has gone down, the installation cost has gone down too.  Try http://www.solar-trade.org.uk/ for advice on solar panels and to find an accredited installer. (If you do have PV panels installed, ask the installer about pigeon-proofing them at the same time – feral pigeons seem to  like to roost and nest under solar panels and can become a nuisance. It would be much cheaper to take steps to prevent this while people are working on your roof than to get specialists, scaffolders, etc, in later. Or get a cat!) Now that some of us have had solar panels and/or heat pumps for a few years, we may be running into maintenance and repair issues – in the first instance our advice is to contact your original installer or the manufacturer of your equipment, who are likely to have a list of  accredited specialist tradespeople, including some local ones. See also http://e-voice.org.uk/kingstongreendirectory/assets/other/buying-solar-pv-panels.

  • If you want to be really self-sufficient in energy, you could consider a battery to store the electricity your solar panels generate during the day to use at night. However, this remains an expensive option and you are unlikely to be able to store enough energy in winter to keep you warm.

  • Replacement windows, with low emissivity glass, secondary glazing or double- or even treble- glazing can be worthwhile too – but seek technical advice first and get several estimates.

  • New doors are often better insulated than old ones - look for the "Part-L" standard.

  • You could think about a large, mechanical heat recovery system if you have a big house.

  • You can replace your boiler with a heat pump which captures heat from the outdoor environment (even when it's cold). Ground-source or air-source or water-source? Air-source are probably the easiest and cheapest to instll for most people - find out more from the Energy Saving Trust.

More advice