Whether it’s recycling our rubbish or using fewer plastic bags, we can all do our bit when it comes to ‘going green.’ As we become increasingly aware of how our individual choices can impact the environment, it’s important to know how we can save energy in the home – and often reduce home running costs at the same time.
Phantom energy, also known as ‘vampire power’, is the electricity used by devices when they're switched off but left plugged in.
A study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the U.S. looked at a wide range of electrical products that use power even when they’re idle or on standby – from computer monitors and TVs to coffee machines and printers. One of the worst offenders was TV set-top boxes (like Virgin or Sky boxes) that use an average of 15.47watts while switched off.
Simply unplugging (or turning off at the wall) all items that aren't regularly used can help save energy. You can also get power strips with individual switches, which can cut the power supply to idle devices while leaving used ones switched on, and avoid untidy plugs on the floor.
Replace your boiler
Running a boiler takes up 55% of an average household energy bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust. And having an old boiler can burn through a lot of energy and costs. That’s why it pays – both for the environment and your bills – to invest in a new, more efficient boiler.
How do I know if my boiler isn’t efficient?
- There’s no thermostat – often older boilers don’t have thermostats, which means you have less control over the temperature and could waste energy unknowingly
- It continues heating, even after reaching the thermostat temperature – in some older boilers, when the heating reaches the temperature set by the thermostat, the boiler goes through a ‘dry cycle’ rather than switching off – which sends the heat to an ‘overflow radiator’
- It has a continuous pilot light – a feature new boilers don’t have, this is a very inefficient use of gas
- It has a G energy rating – this is the least efficient type of boiler. Check your boiler's rating here
We can help if you'd like to upgrade your boiler to a more efficient model.
Can I get financial help to replace my boiler?
You may be eligible for an energy grant from the government to help you replace your boiler. If not, a new boiler usually costs between £500 and £2,500, not including the installation.
How else can I save energy at home?
Make it draught proof
According to Which?, draught-proofing your home could save the average household up to £50 a year. Gaps in windows, door fittings, loft hatches and open fireplaces can be fixed with British Standard Institution (BSI) accredited products that last up to 20 years. Alternatively, you can hire a professional draught-proofer to assess and equip your home.
Insulate the water tank
Insulating your water tank can cost as little as £15, saving you between £25-35 a year. It can also reduce heat loss by around 75% - and provide carbon dioxide savings of between 110kg-140kg a year.
Cylinder jackets typically come in two standard sizes: 900mm x 450mm and 1,050mm x 450mm. It’s usually recommended to buy a jacket that displays the British Standard Kitemark.
Get energy-efficient light bulbs
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) are the most commonly used energy efficient light bulbs in the UK, but Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are becoming increasingly popular with consumers switching to low-energy bulbs.
Using either CFL or LED bulbs can save you up to £60 over the lifetime of the bulb, which can last around ten times longer than a standard bulb.
A few more everyday tips
- Only boil the amount of water you need when using the kettle
- Turn your thermostat down by one degree
- Set your washing machine to the lowest temperature you can and only run when you have a full load
- Use a clothes rack or washing line rather than a tumble dryer
- Turn the lights off when you leave a room