When you want to save energy and help the planet, it’s important that your home uses energy efficiently. This will go a long way to cutting the amount of fuel you need to keep it warm and the amount of electricity you need to power it. Here, we have listed out some of our top tips for making your home more energy efficient:
- Replace doors such as front doors and garage doors. These are obvious places where energy can escape from your home. Garages especially need to be well insulated, or they can lose heat very rapidly. Choose new, sturdy doors to keep the heat in.
- Turn heating off when not in use. This one might sound obvious, but many people will leave their heating on an automatic programme. It could be coming on when you just don’t need it to, so double check.
- Use energy efficient methods of heating your home. Wood burners will allow you to heat rooms using renewable fuels that burn efficiently.
- Consider investing in a new boiler. Many old boilers are very inefficient and you could save money in the long run.
- Turn off light switches and appliances when not in use. Don’t just leave them on standby.
For those who don’t want to install solar panels because they don’t like their appearance, or for people living in listed buildings who might have planning restrictions, solar tiles can be an excellent option. Whilst they’re not as efficient or readily available as solar panels, they’re still able to produce renewable energy for you, cut down your bills, and can be sourced without too much difficulty.
Solar tiles are designed to have a similar appearance to slate roof tiles. They won’t look completely neutral as they’ll have a slightly blue, shiny surface, but they’ll certainly blend in a lot more than solar panels would. Cost wise, solar tiles cost more than panels, and produce around 10-20% less energy than solar panels. Some solar panels will generate so much electricity that you can’t use it all yourself, and it can be sold back to the grid using the Feed-in Tariff scheme. This is never going to be the case with solar tiles – they’re not efficient enough to generate surplus energy. However, they’re still a positive step towards renewable energy, and for those who can’t have or don’t want solar panels, they’re a worthwhile alternative.
Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular all the time, largely due to concern for the planet, the environment and the need to reduce our carbon footprint. It’s becoming more common for new domestic properties to be built with solar panels already fitted, but how much can it benefit you to install them in your existing property?
The evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of solar panels being an extremely efficient tool in domestic energy production. A 4kWp system (which is usually the standard size of an installation) generates around 3,800 kWh of electricity each year in the South of England. This isn’t far off a typical household’s energy consumption, so it could be enough to account for all of your electricity. Of course, some areas receive more sun than others, but even in places like Scotland where energy generation will be less, you can still make 3,200 kWh, which is more than three quarters of the typical household usage.
Your main consideration will be where to place your solar panels, as you’ll need to be able to capture as much sunlight as possible for the utmost efficiency. Some roofs will be more suitable than others because of the direction they face in, but most households would be able to get reasonable use out of a solar panel system. Even if they’re not going to be able to take you completely ‘off grid’, they can make a very worthwhile contribution to reducing your household bills, and what’s more, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint whilst doing so.
Micro-CHP stands for micro combined heat and power. It is a system which is able to generate heat and electricity at the same time, using one energy source to do so. It works with mains gas or LPG, and makes use of this in its energy production. Whilst it isn’t completely carbon neutral, it is still considered to be low carbon, because it is a more energy-efficient method of production than simply using fossil fuels and national grid electricity to meet all household needs.
Micro-CHPs are easy to use in a domestic setting. They are a similar size to a standard boiler, and can be either wall hung or freestanding depending on your preference. They’re a relatively new technology for home use, though they’ve been available for commercial use for a number of years.
It can be very cost-effective for you to install a Micro-CHP system in the long run. Your energy bills will be lower, and if the system generates enough energy, you can take advantage of a feed-in tariff to earn some money from it.
Biomass refers to living organisms which can be burnt to provide energy. Some of the most popular biomass sources are short rotation coppice, willow, poplar, oilseed rape and various types of grasses.
Most importantly, the process is fundamentally different to burning fossil fuels because biomass is a sustainable, renewable method of energy production. The process is sometimes considered to be carbon neutral – this is to do with the fact that trees and plants take carbon dioxide out of the air whilst growing. However, there has been a lot of debate on this topic and the conclusions are not definitive. Therefore, the easiest way to make the process as environmentally friendly as possible is to replant, replenishing the trees and plants which are being used as fuel.
There are a number of ways to use biomass energy within homes – sometimes people are already doing so without even realising. The simplest is to use a log burner or stove to heat your home, as this can be an attractive design feature as well as being environmentally friendly.
Stoves can also be fitted with a back boiler which will heat water. The boiler burns wood in the form of logs, chips or pellets, and can generate heat and water for the whole house. This heating method can also result in significant cost savings.
Sometimes, more than one property is communally heated using a biomass boiler system, though this is more common in some countries than others. Boilers to burn wood tend to be larger, so they can be useful for heating groups of properties like blocks of flats.
Large-scale use of biomass energy has its downfalls as well as its advantages, but it’s a simple and pleasant way to heat individual homes, as well as being cost effective.