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Energy Efficiency Advice

Energy Efficiency Advice

Being more energy efficient will help save you money on your energy costs as well as benefitting the environment.

The guide provides information and assistance on the efficient use of energy in your home

It contains information on:

How to contact us

If you would like help and advice about how to make your home more energy efficient, you can contact our energy efficiency line by calling now on 0333 003 5647.

If you would like more information regarding the content of this guide or to discuss how changing your energy tariff could help you pay less for your energy supply, you can contact us by:

  • Phone: call our Customer Service team on 0333 777 0777;
  • Textphone / Minicom: If you are hearing impaired or have a speech impediment and use a Textphone or Minicom system, you can contact us on 0333 003 5643;
  • Email: energy@utilitywarehouse.co.uk; or
  • Post: The Utility Warehouse, Network HQ, 508 Edgware Road, The Hyde, London NW9 5AB.
  • Google Maps

If your first language is not English, you can ask a friend or relative to make the enquiry on your behalf. If that is not possible we may be able to translate your enquiry by using a translator.

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Our Energy Efficiency Advisors

We have a team of Energy Efficiency advisors that can be contacted on 0333 003 5647. This fully trained team can give you specialist advice on the efficient use of gas and electricity, provide you with up to date information on energy efficiency measures and can provide you with the contact details of other organisations that deal with energy efficiency advice and measures.

The advisors are qualified in energy efficiency matters and receive regular refresher courses. They have been awarded a Certificate in Energy Awareness from the City and Guilds of London Institute.

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Home Energy Efficiency Check

Our advisors can carry out a "Home Energy Efficiency Check" by asking you a series of simple questions to gain an understanding of your property and how much energy you currently use. They will be able to give free advice on any aspect of efficiency measures and will then send you a detailed report of the measures you can take to save money on your energy bills.

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Ways to save energy that cost you nothing

There are many ways you can be more energy efficient without it having to cost you any money and here are some tips on how you can do it.

Heating

Turn the thermostat down by 1°C. This can save you up to 10% on your energy bills. The recommended temperature setting is 18°C to 21°C; for young children and older people it is 21°C. If you are going away for a few days leave the thermostat on a low setting to provide protection from freezing.

Use the time-switch or programmer function on your central heating system to only provide you with heating and hot water when you need it. Set your central heating to turn on 30 minutes before you get up or arrive home.

Turn radiators off in rooms that you don't use and avoid opening doors and windows to cool a room that is too hot - try turning the heating down instead.

Don't put furniture in front of radiators; it absorbs the heat and stops it heating the room.

Curtains

Close the curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows. Don't drape your curtains over heaters or radiators as this can funnel the heat straight out at the windows and not into the room where you want it to be.

Water

Water should not be heated to a scalding temperature. If you have a thermostat on your hot water system, setting it at 60°C is usually quite hot enough for bathing and washing.

Use a shower instead of a bath if you have one. You can have up to five 5 minute showers for the same cost as one bath.

Always remember to put the plug in a basin or sink. Leaving the hot water tap running without the plug is both wasteful and expensive.

Lighting

Switch off lights when you leave a room.

Appliances

Don't leave appliances in standby mode when you are not using them. Appliances such as your TV, stereo and computer continue to use electricity when they are in standby mode.

Fridges and Freezers

Defrost fridges and freezers regularly to keep them running efficiently. Check the temperatures - fridges should be set between 3°C and 5°C, freezers operate most effectively at -18°C.

Do not leave the door open for longer than necessary. Avoid putting warm food straight in the fridge; allow it to cool down first. Try not to put your fridge or freezer next to the cooker or boiler.

Washing Machines and Dishwashers

Try and wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or dishwasher. If this isn't possible, use the half load, or economy programme if your machines have one.

Try using your washing machine at lower temperatures. Washing at 30°c will save you energy.

If you have an Economy 7 meter, where your tariff offers a cheaper electricity night rate, run your washing machine or dishwasher at night.

Tumble Dryers

Tumble dryers use large amounts of electricity. Do not put really wet clothes into a tumble dryer; wring them out or spin dry them first. Where possible, hang clothes out to dry.

Cooking

Choose the right size pots and pans for the food and cooker, and keep lids on when cooking. The base should just cover an electric cooking ring. With gas, you need to ensure that the flames only heat the bottom of the pan. If they are coming up the side they are wasting heat.

Do not use more water than you need. Use a kettle to boil water for cooking but only boil as much as you need. The same applies if you are boiling a kettle to make a hot drink - only heat the amount of water that you actually need.

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Ways to save energy that may cost a little

There are also ways you can be more energy efficient that may cost a little but can help you make significant savings on your energy bills.

  • Fit reflective foil behind your radiators if they are on external walls, with the shiny side facing the radiator. This will help direct heat into rooms where it is most needed.
  • Use energy saving light bulbs.
  • If you have a dripping tap, fix it quickly. Make sure hot water taps are turned off properly. In just one week, a dripping hot tap can waste enough water to fill a bath.
  • Fit draught proofing strips around windows and external doors taking care not to block any ventilation; fit a nylon brush seal or a spring flap on the letterbox, and put a cover over the keyhole.
  • If you don't have double glazed windows, a low-cost and easy-to-fit alternative method to help with draughts is to tape polythene across window frames. You can buy this from DIY stores but remember not to cover any ventilation grills.
  • Heavy lined curtains are very useful. Ideally, they should fall to floor level. Insulated linings will help reduce heat loss.
  • Insulate your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket that is at least 75mm (3 inches thick).
  • Insulate your pipe work. Hot water pipes should also be insulated to prevent heat loss. Pre-formed pipe insulation is available from most DIY shops.

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Improvements that will cost more and save more

New Appliances

All electrical appliances carry a European Energy Label that rates its energy efficiency. The most energy efficient appliances are A+++ graded, the least energy efficient are G graded. If you are seeking to buy a new appliance such as a fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, tumble dryer or cooker, make sure you choose an "A" rated appliance to maximize your energy efficiency savings.

Thermostatic radiator valves

These are very useful as they enable you to control the temperature of each room separately and so reduce your heating bills still further. They work by reducing the flow of water to the radiator as the thermostat reaches its set temperature.

Hot Water Cylinder Thermostat

You can have a separate clamp-on thermostat and control valve fitted to your hot water cylinder to control the temperature of your stored hot water. Setting the temperature to 60°C is an efficient level.

Boiler replacement

If your boiler is over 15 years old or unreliable, consider replacing it with a modern gas condensing boiler with heating controls. Today's boilers are smaller, neater and more energy efficient than in the past because they use less fuel to produce the same amount of heat.

Insulation

The picture below shows the typical heat loss from an un-insulated or poorly insulated home.

typical heat loss from a poorly insulated home

Loft insulation

Loft insulation is one of the most efficient ways to keep heat from escaping in a home. The thickness of the insulation plays an important role but it's easy to top up if there's some there but not enough. The recommended thickness is 270mm. To give an idea of cost savings, topping up from 100mm to 270mm can save around £25 a year on heating bills.
Learn more about loft insulation by clicking here.

Wall insulation

A third of the heat in an un-insulated home is lost through the walls. There are two wall types - solid walls and cavity walls. Both can be insulated to improve the energy efficiency of a property. If the home was built from 1920 onwards there is a good chance it has cavity walls. A home with un-insulated cavity walls could cost up to £140 more to run each year than one with insulated cavities, so it's worth finding out the state of play.
Learn more about cavity wall insulation by clicking here .

Homes built before 1920 are likely to have solid walls. Solid walls may sound like they should be better at keeping in heat but unfortunately the opposite is true. Un-insulated solid walls can lose heat twice as fast as un-insulated cavity walls, but insulating them could save over £460 each year - so if you're looking to move into an older build, make sure you ask about the insulation.
Learn more about solid wall insulation by clicking here .

Floor insulation

Gaps and draughts around skirting boards and floors are simple to fix yourself with a tube of sealant bought from any DIY store. Floorboards will rot without adequate ventilation though, so don't block under - floor airbricks in your outside walls.

Insulating under the floorboards on your ground floor could save you around £60 a year in energy costs.
Learn more about floor insulation by clicking here .

Double glazing

Double-glazed windows can save up to £165 on heating bills compared to a single-glazed property.
Learn more about double-glazing by clicking here.

Draught proofing

Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to save energy - and money - in any type of building.

Draughts are a bit like ventilation, both let fresh air into your home. Good ventilation helps reduce condensation and damp but draughts are uncontrolled: they let in too much cold air and waste too much heat.

To draught-proof your home you should block up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out. Saving warm air means you'll use less energy to heat your home, so you'll save money as well as making your home snug and pleasant.

Check round windows and doors for gaps. If it's a windy day and your home is particularly draughty, you can often hear the whistle of wind as it sweeps through the property. It's quite easy to draught proof homes and there are lots of DIY options available. Draught proofing can save up to £55 a year on heating costs.
Learn more about draught proofing by clicking here.

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Ventilation

If you are applying draught proofing measures in your property remember that ventilation is essential. You should be aware of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning if your appliances are not properly ventilated.

Air needs to flow in and out of your house so it stays fresh, dry and healthy. Make sure you don't block or seal any intentional ventilation such as:

  • extractor fans - these take out damp air quickly in rooms where lots of moisture is produced (kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms);
  • under-floor grilles or airbricks - these help keep wooden beams and floors dry;
  • wall vents - these let small amounts of fresh air into rooms; and
  • trickle vents - modern windows often have small vents above them to let fresh air trickle in.

When gas does not burn properly, excess carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is poisonous and it can be fatal. As it doesn't smell and you can't see it, it can be very difficult to detect.

Ventilation is essential if you have solid fuel fires, gas fires or boilers with an open flue. So have your chimney swept regularly and check your airbricks for any blockages. There must also be enough fresh air in the room.

Remember:

  • Never cover an appliance or block the convection air vents;
  • Never block or obstruct any fixed ventilation grilles or airbricks;
  • Never block or cover outside flues; and
  • Never use a gas appliance if you think that it is not working properly.

A carbon monoxide alarm is a good thing to have if you are applying draught proofing measures just in case you block a source of essential ventilation by mistake. If you would like more information about carbon monoxide and the importance of having your gas appliances tested on a regular basis, please see our guide "Gas Safety Checks" located on our website at https://www.utilitywarehouse.co.uk/legal/energyinfo.

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Independent Advice and Financial Assistance

There are many independent organisations that can provide advice on energy efficiency and grants or financial assistance that may be available to help you.

Citizens Advice consumer service

If you would like to receive free, independent, impartial and practical advice regarding your energy supply, you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer service by:

Phone: 03454 04 05 06;
Textphone: 18001 03454 04 05 06; or
Website:
www.citizensadvice.org.uk/energy

The "Know your rights in a changing energy market" leaflet on their website may help you.

Energy Saving Trust

They offer impartial advice to communities and households on how to reduce carbon emissions, use water more sustainably and save money on energy bills. You can contact them by:

Phone: 0300 123 1234 (England and Wales) or 0808 808 2282 (Scotland);
Email: energy-advice@est.org.uk; or
Website: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

National Energy Action (NEA)

NEA is a national charity which aims to eradicate fuel poverty and campaigns for greater investment in energy efficiency to help those who are poor and vulnerable. You can contact them by:

Phone: 0191 261 5677; or
Website: www.nea.org.uk

Home Heat Helpline

The Home Heat Helpline advises people worried about paying their energy bills and keeping warm during the winter. It also gives advice to low-income households in urgent need of heating help and advice. You can contact them by:

Phone: 0800 33 66 99; or
Website: www.homeheathelpline.org.uk

Local authorities

Some local authorities may also provide energy-saving grants or other offers for local residents to install certain energy efficiency measures in their home. Call your local authority to see if there is any help available in your area.

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