Energy Efficiency

The key barrier to energy efficiency is related to individuals knowledge, motivation and ability to optimise their energy use. For example for every tonne of carbon saved through energy efficiency measures the economy typically benefits by 150.

Energy Efficiency in the Home: Facts and Figures
Where does the heat go?

A home loses heat continually whenever it is warmer inside than outside. You cannot stop this happening but you can slow it down and that will reduce your fuel bills, make you more comfortable and benefit the environment.

In an uninsulated house:
  • 33% of wasted heat is lost through the walls
  • 26% of wasted heat is lost through the roof
  • 8% of wasted heat is lost through the floor
  • 12% of wasted heat is lost through ventilation and gaps around windows, doors etc
  • 18% of wasted heat is lost through windows
Ten no cost ways to save energy and money:
  • Central heating ~ turning the thermostat down by 1C can save 10% of heating bills, saving around £30 per year.
  • Hot water ~ setting the cylinder thermostat at 60C/140F should provide a sufficiently high temperature for domestic use, saving £10 per year.
  • Always use the basin or sink plug. Running hot water is expensive and wasteful.
  • Lights ~ turn off unnecessary lights and adjust curtains and blinds to allow as much natural light as possible.
  • Electrical appliances ~ do not leave televisions, videos etc on standby.
  • Fridges ~ do not leave the refrigerator door open and avoid putting warm or hot food into the fridge. Defrost the appliance regularly.
  • Washing machines/tumble dryers ~ wait until you have a full load before use. Try the low temperature programme where possible.
  • Dishwashers ~ use the low temperature programme where appropriate.
  • Kettles ~ heat only the amount of water needed.
  • Pots and pans ~ choose the right size ring for pots and pans and keep lids on when cooking.
Nine low cost ways to save energy and money:
  • Low energy lights bulbs use around a quarter of the electricity and will last ten times longer than ordinary bulbs. They cost up to £5 and save around £10 per year.
  • An insulating jacket for your hot water tank will cost around £10 and save around £10-£15 per year.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes to prevent heat escaping. The cost is about £1 per metre to save around £5 per year.
  • An ordinary shower uses only two-fifths of the hot water needed for a bath. Shower attachments for both taps costs around 5 – 10.
  • If you have a dripping tap fix it quickly; in just one day, a dripping hot water tap can waste energy and enough water to fill a bath.
  • Draft proof exterior doors.
  • Fit a seal or flap on your letterbox and cover the keyhole.
  • Fill gaps in floorboards or under skirting boards with newspaper, beading or sealant for about £25 to save around £5 – £10 per year.
  • Use cling film or polythene on windows as an alternative to double glazing, costing from £10.
Three higher cost ways to save energy and money:

The following measures require a greater initial investment but they will pay for themselves in the future.

1. Insulation involves adding extra material to the structure of a building to keep the heat in better ~ rather like putting on an extra layer of clothing:

  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Internal wall insulation
  • External wall insulation
  • Loft insulation
  • Draught proofing
  • Hot water tank and pipe insulation

2. Heating systems and controls

Modern central heating systems are much more energy efficient than older types. Replacing a 15 year old boiler could save you 20% on your fuel bills or 32% if a condensing boiler is installed.

With the right heating controls such as room and boiler thermostats, timer/programmer and thermostatic radiator valves you could cut your fuel bills by as much as 40%.

3. Energy efficient appliances

The European Union has introduced an energy efficiency labelling scheme that applies to fridges, fridge/freezers, washing machines, tumble dryers and washer dryers. The labels range from A (highly efficient) to G (inefficient). Wherever possible you should opt for the most efficient appliance available within your budget; any additional cost should be recovered in reduced electricity consumption.

If your appliances are over 10 years old, upgrading to an A-rated energy efficient model could save you the following on your electricity bill per year:

  • Fridge freezer £45
  • Upright/chest freezer £35
  • Fridge £25
  • Washing machine £15

Some of the above improvements can be carried out on a do-it-yourself basis. However there are important reasons why a qualified contractor should be used. Some heating appliances such as gas fires and coal fires use air from the room theyre in to burn. It is very important that insulation does not totally seal these rooms and adequate ventilation is provided. Ventilation will also help to avoid condensation. Plumbing, electrical and gas fitting are skilled work and only suitably qualified people should be used.

More Facts
  • Households spend £5.3 billion each year on domestic lighting and appliances
  • The average household produces more than 6 tonnes of CO each year.
  • The average household could save 200 a year by installing energy efficiency measures
  • If every household installed three low energy light bulbs the savings would pay for all the street lighting in the UK.
  • As a nation we waste 5 billion worth of energy each year.

If you would like further information on energy savings contact the Energy Savings Trust at


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