Living in the UK is expensive business, there’s no question about that. Now is not the time to be frivolous with your cash, and if there are savings to be had you should be grabbing them with both hands. Cut the cost of your energy bills (you can even get free solar panels to help) and you’ll have more cash to spend on what you want, especially during those chilly winter months when we all could do with some cheering up.
- Why bother?
- Are you eligible for a grant?
- Energy Saving Trust
- Top tips for cheaper energy
- Contacts for internal wall insulation
- Contacts for loft insulation and draft
If you’re not interested in saving the planet, that’s fine. But what you should be interested in is saving your hard earned cash. About one third of your home’s energy is currently being wasted, which means you might as well be flushing your cash down the toilet. Insulating your home properly is the best way to prevent this from happening and the positive effect it would have on our planet could be extraordinary.Most people disregard going green because of the associated up-front costs. But if you work out the savings you’ll make in the long run, they are worth the investment. There are also plenty of small, low-cost changes you can make that will have a big impact on your bills. More about those later.
The government want you to make energy saving changes to your home, and offer financial assistance as an incentive. There are two major government incentives to help you go green; the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund and the ECO Affordable Warmth Scheme.
ECO Affordable Warmth Scheme
What is the ECO Affordable Warmth Scheme and am I eligible for it?
The ECO Affordable Warmth Scheme was set up by the government to help households who receive state benefits and who want to make their house more energy efficient, but can’t take advantage of the Green Deal. The money comes from energy suppliers who have agreed to make up to £1.3 billion per year available until March 2015, in a bid to help meet their carbon emission targets.
What can I get?
The Affordable Warmth Scheme funds the replacement of old or inefficient central heating boilers with new energy efficient boilers and pays for wall and loft insulation in homes which need it. The offers are scheduled to be available until March 2015 but there is only sufficient funding for 10% of those who should get a free boiler to actually get one, so you should apply as soon as possible if you think you’re eligible.
Do I qualify and how should I apply?
To be eligible you must live in private accommodation that you either own or rent, you must receive certain state benefits and your central heating must be inefficient and have developed a fault. Due to limited funding for this scheme only a limited number of post codes currently qualify at the moment, although the post codes do continuously change. Look online to find out if you are eligible. You can apply online for the scheme here.
What other available grants are there?
Feed-in Tariffs If you generate your own electricity through renewable sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, then your energy supplier might pay money per unit of electricity you generate. Equally you can sell any surplus electricity you make back to your electricity supplier, who will pay 4.5p for each unit of energy.
Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme The RHI scheme, which launched 9 April 2014, pays people to generate heat through renewable sources. There are fixed tariffs per unit of heat generated for seven years. You can get paid for producing heat by air source heat pumps, ground and water source heat pumps, biomass only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with integrated boilers, and solar thermal values. For more information, look here.
But I don’t live in England…
Don’t worry, the government offer energy saving grants throughout the UK. Wales will be entitled to the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, Scotland has the Green Homes Cashback Scheme and Northern Ireland have the Warm Homes Scheme. Terms will differ but help is definitely there for those wanting it all across the UK.
What happens if I’m not eligible for a government grant?
Speak to an experienced adviser at the Energy Saving Trust on 0800 512 012 to make sure you know exactly what you are entitled to. These guys know their stuff and if you’re eligible for a grant, they’ll make sure that you get it. Not everyone is eligible for a grant and if you find this applies to you don’t panic. The government are not the only providers of energy grants, energy suppliers and your local authorities can also offer you special deals. You can find the contact details of your local council. If you don’t qualify for a government grant give these guys a call and find out what they have to offer. Use the Energy Saving Trust’s tool to find out if you’re eligible for special offers from energy suppliers.
The Energy Saving Trust is the most informative website out there for energy saving advice. You’ll find heaps of information on how to stop wasting energy, and they have a special tool which allows you to calculate how much money you could be saving through making certain changes in your home (proper insulation, energy saving light bulbs etc). The tool is extremely quick and easy to use and will give you a clear understanding of the cash you could be saving – it’s a real eye opener. Below is an example of the savings that could be made in a two-bedroom flat with three external walls:
|Energy Savings Measures||Yearly Savings||CO2 Yearly Savings (Kg/ CO2)|
|Install solid wall insulation (internal)||£ 470||3,318 kg|
|Install loft insulation to 270mm||£ 500||3,520 kg|
|Fit a hot water tank jacket||£ 50||351 kg|
|Install controls for electric heating||£ 50||385 kg|
|Fit energy saving light bulbs||£ 40||135 kg|
|Fit draught proofing||£30||225 kg|
|Turn appliances off and avoid standby||£ 30||126 kg|
|Wash your laundry||£ 10||44 kg|
|Only boil as much water as you need||£ 10||28 kg|
|Always turn off your lights when you leave a room||£ 10||24 kg|
|Total Savings||£1200||8156 kg|
Let’s be honest, regardless of how much money it might save you in the long run, you might not be in a position to make changes to your home right now. If that’s the case then make these small changes that won’t break the bank and are completely free. You’ll still notice a positive difference to your finances.
Changing all the lights in your house to the energy-saving kind will save you about £9 on your annual electricity bill and up to £100 over the bulb’s lifetime. Energy saving bulbs last up to 10 to 15 times longer and use about a quarter to a fifth of the electricity that ordinary light bulbs use. In less than a year the costs of the light bulbs will have been saved in your energy bill! For details on the best energy-saving light bulbs around check out our dedicated article here.
- Switch your energy supplier
Switch your energy supplier and save £538! We’ve made the whole process ridiculously simple – just enter your postcode and switch in minutes. Read more about saving by shopping around for your energy here.
If you were to turn down your thermostat by 1°C you’d save yourself £55 annually! By drawing your curtains at dusk you will keep more heat in the room. Make sure not to block your radiators with any curtains or furniture. Follow these tips and you should barely notice the difference. By also turning down both your hot water boiler to 60°C or 140°F you’ll save an extra £10 annually.
- Replace that old boiler now before winter
If your boiler is over 15 years old it is no longer efficient and draining loads of energy and cash. It can be expensive to purchase a new boiler, but the savings made can equal up to £225 a year. Discover more about energy efficient boilers from the experts here.
- Use your timer
Even if you are not planning on replacing your boiler, always use a timer and turn your heater off 30 minutes before leaving home and programming it so that it switches back on 30 minutes before you return.
- Buy your boiler a new jacket
By adding an insulation jacket to your hot water cylinder you will be preventing heat loss and therefore saving yourself £15-20 annually. They are easy to fit yourself and should cost you about a tenner or less at B&Q. Make sure to purchase a jacket that is at least 75mm thick. Visit Home Heating Guide for step-by-step instructions.
Always remember to switch off all your appliances when you are no longer using them. Microwaves, TVs, videos, stereos, and computers eat up loads of energy when they are left on standby. In fact 85% of the energy consumed by your DVD player is done when it is not actually in use.
- Unplug too
The same principle applies with unplugging pieces of equipment once they have fully charged. Don’t leave your mobile charger, shavers or electric toothbrushes plugged in because they are still draining electricity unnecessarily. Overcharging electrical equipment also causes the battery trauma and it won’t last as long.
- Energy efficient appliances save money
If you’re are purchasing any new appliances buying the energy-efficient one will save you loads. Make sure that they’ve got an Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo on them, as this means they’ve met strict criteria regarding energy efficiency. Take a look at this list of Energy Saving Trust Recommended products right.
- Stop washing your dishes by handThink you’re saving water and energy by washing your dishes by hand? Think again, modern dishwashers use less energy and water than washing up by hand. Remember to only wash full loads of dishes, turn down that hot water temperature and skip the drying cycle. Leave the door ajar instead and let your dishes air dry.
- Don’t forget about the loft
By insulating your loft you could shave up to £140 off your annual heating bill.
- Skip the dry cycle
Giving your tumbler a miss and drying your clothes indoors is a great way to save money. Use clothes rails rather than lying clothes over radiators as this prevents heat from circulating the room.
- Shower more and bath less
Taking a shower consumes two-fifths of the water used for a bath (so long as you don’t spend hours under the water), however those power shower heads are a no-no as they can use as much water – or sometimes more – than a bath would!
- Check out Nigel’s Eco Store
For quirky, eco friendly products that’ll save you money and energy, Nigel’s Eco Store is the place to look. Here’s a little round-up of our favourite products:
- Radiator Booster– spreads heat more effectively around your room and will save you up to £140 per year. Costs just £24.95.
- Ecoflap – an extremely effective little device that stops draughts from making your home chilly. Will help to reduce your heating bills, especially during the winter months. Just £23.99.