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Energy Saving, but is it Money Saving?

By: Kathryn Senior PhD - Updated: 12 May 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Saving Energy Environment Carbon

Saving energy is a good thing for the environment and the government is very keen for every individual in the UK to adopt a lifestyle that has a lower carbon footprint. For people with their own house, saving energy is a priority for saving money on fuel bills, as these are set to increase still further in the next few years. The trouble is that saving energy and saving money often involves spending money. Some changes such as improving your draught proofing and getting more energy saving light bulbs cost relatively little but having new energy efficient windows, loft insulation or a new boiler and heating system is often in the thousands.

Some grants are available but these can be difficult to get. Money is available from councils for elderly people to have cavity wall insulation and loft insulation but for people with a young family, there is less in the way of financial compensation. For people who aren’t eligible for grants, it is important to plan changes so that they are cost effective and save money as well as energy, paying for themselves in a reasonable time.

Planning Energy Saving Changes

Planning is important and it can also be cost effective to get some professional advice. This will cost money in itself but knowing what to do to save the most energy for the lowest expenditure will probably pay for the advice quite quickly. One general piece of advice is to make sure that you don’t go ahead and replace your boiler with a more efficient model as a first step. If you live in an older house, it is better to put in all the insulation you can, and change to energy efficient windows wherever possible before tackling the boiler. All these changes are expensive but you may find that once your home is well insulated, you need a smaller boiler. This will cost less to buy and install and its running costs will be lower, offsetting some of the expense of the insulation.

Changes that Save Money and Energy Quickly

If you are on a tight budget, what can you do to save energy now rather than waiting for finances to improve? If you haven’t already, buy energy saving light bulbs for every light in the house. Many of these are now subsidised and supermarkets regularly run offers so that you can get two for £1, making this a very cheap way forward. Even spotlights can now be fitted with energy saving bulbs – but these may set up back between £5 and £10 depending on the size and make. Even so, you can claw back the cost of replacing your bulbs in about 6 months because of the electricity you save. Plus, energy saving bulbs last longer, so you don’t have to buy new ones for ages.

Insulating your hot water tank and putting in better draught proofing will cost more, but well within £500 for both and you can recover this cost anywhere between 1 year and 3 years, just by the saving in energy usage. Fitting better thermostats to your radiators will pay for itself in two to five years and cavity wall insulation, although relatively expensive, will give you back what you have paid within 3 years.

Longer Term Energy Saving Changes

The more expensive changes obviously take longer to pay back but new energy efficient windows can pay for themselves in 5 years, as can replacing a very old and energy efficient boiler, particularly if you can make other changes as discussed above, so that you can manage on a smaller one. Loft insulation can be pricey but it does save all the energy that just goes up and out of the roof, so this will still pay for itself within 6 years. With some sort of grant, loft insulation is definitely a priority.

Need Advice?

When you are thinking of spending a lot of money it is difficult to do it alone but you can get free advice from an energy supplier. Some are better than others, but it is worth asking. Independent bodies such as the Energy Saving Trust will also help and you can find tips and solutions at many internet sites.

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Consider upgrading your heating controls, over 8 million homes do not have a heating thermostat which means the boiler cannot switch off when the house is up to temperature. This is often a simple and very cost effective thing to fit, modern wireless controls mean that no additional wiring is required. Some controls can be installed DIY and without any mess or disruption. Check out your local DIY store or ask your heating engineer about fitting a thermostat the next time you get your boiler serviced.
RobW - 8-Jul-11 @ 10:41 PM
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