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Energy Saving Tips

As we face increasing energy prices unlike ever before, more and more of us are becoming progressively conscious of our gas and electric usage as we approach winter. It’s useful to know what steps we can take to consume as little energy as possible to try and keep our household bills down.

A recent study from the National Energy Foundation found that the average UK household could save up to £300 a year on their energy bills by making some changes to their daily habits.

As we come into winter, we’ve compiled a helpful list of numerous ways to help lower your energy consumption and save as much money as possible on your gas and electricity bills.

1. Insulation

Poor insulation is one of the primary causes for making your home feel colder. By properly insulating your home, it can reduce the need for having your central heating on for as long, helping to reduce the cost of heating bills. Methods of insulation can range from draught excluders and weatherstripping tape, to larger home improvements such as; loft insulation, cavity walls or upgrading your windows to double or triple glazing.

Both draught excluders and weatherstripping tape work to block cold and warm air moving between the outside of the home and inside (or between rooms), by blocking any potential gaps under the door, around the window, or around door ledges. These are common areas for heat to escape.

Outside of sealing gaps in windows and doors, it is also important to ensure that the rest of your home is well insulated. Your roof is the one of the biggest contributors of heat loss in your property, and ensuring that it is properly insulated could make a big difference minimising heat loss and reducing energy bills in your home.Similarly, cavity wall insulation helps to prevent heat loss from the walls of your home by creating and insulating layer between your homes external and internal brickwork. There is a grant available under the government’s ECO4 scheme to help those that are eligible insulate their homes, you can find out more about the ECO 4 grant and eligibility criteria here.

Your home may also benefit from upgrading your windows to double or triple glazing, creating additional layers between the cold external air and warm air inside your home.

2. Use a thermostat to control your heating

Using your thermostat to control your heating and hot water is an efficient way of ensuring your home is at a comfortable temperature without being wasteful. There are a wide range of controls available to help you manage your home’s heat consumption.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats provide the most flexibility when controlling your home’s heating, as they can be used completely remotely via mobile app (or even through a smart home assistant), and give you the opportunity to adjust your heating to meet your family’s needs.

For more information on how smart heating could help you control your home’s heating and reduce your energy bills, check out our Ultimate Guide to Smart Heating.

Programmable thermostats

Programmable room thermostats (like Vaillant’s VRC 700 and VRT 350) allow you to set a specific time and temperature you would like your central heating to come on, working to suit you and your household’s routines.

Most Smart and Programmable Thermostats also feature weather compensation functionality which measures the outdoor temperature using weather forecast data from the internet or using a sensor, giving you the ideal temperature for your home. This can help to save you money on your energy bills as it reduces the output of the boiler to ensure its operating at maximum efficiency.

You can read more about weather compensation here.

Digital thermostats

Digital room thermostats monitor the indoor temperature, allowing you to set the temperature to help you reach maximum comfort. Vaillant’s timeSWITCH 160and sensoROOM pure can sense the temperature of your home and, if it drops below a certain degree, it will activate your boiler and heat your home again. This can help prevent your central heating from being on constantly, which may help you save on your bills.

Mechanical thermostats

Mechanical thermostats like the VRT 15 are much more simple to use as you have a dial that you can turn up or down to set your desired temperature. This type of heating control is simple to operate and is an affordable option to help heat your home efficiently.

3. Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree

If you don’t have weather compensation, simply turning your thermostat down by one degree each day until you start to feel the cold could help to reduce your energy consumption, potentially lowering your energy bills.

Once you start to feel cold, turn it back up by one degree to make sure you reach a comfortable temperature.

The government recommends that our homes should vary between 18 and 21 degrees during the winter. However, it’s important to consider a person's age, any medical conditions and the type of room you're heating up.

If you have Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs), you can control how warm your radiators are in different rooms of your home. Turning your radiators down in rooms you don’t use as frequently can be more energy efficient as you’re only heating the rooms you need to. With TRV’s, you can adjust the temperature of your radiators via an app on your smart device.

4. Check your boiler pressure

To ensure that your boiler is working efficiently, check your boiler pressure is correct. Your boiler’s pressure should be between 1 and 2 bars when it’s first switched on. The pressure will then rise when heating your home or providing hot water. However, it should still stay below the upper pressure limit of 3 bars.

If your boiler pressure is low, it means there is not enough water in the system. This is usually caused by a leak in the plumbing fixtures that affects the performance of your heating system. Once the leak has been fixed, you can re-pressure the boiler using the system filling loop. If there doesn’t appear to be a leak, there could be an issue with your boiler and you should call your local installer to come and take a look to help fix the problem.

If your boiler pressure is too high, can be easily rectified yourself by a few simple steps. Read our blog post, What pressure should my boiler be to view the steps and find out more.

5. Check your radiators

If you notice that your radiators aren’t heating up efficiently or if they are cold at the top, there could be an air lock in the system which is affecting how much heat is being emitted from them.

By bleeding your radiators, it will then allow warm water to circulate through the entire radiator helping to give out the correct amount of heat. If you’ve done this and still have the same problem, your central heating system could need power flushing. This must be carried out by a heating engineer and involves removing any build up in the boiler, pipes and radiators that could be affecting the efficiency.

This could help save on your energy bills as your radiators should heat up much quicker, helping to warm your house up faster. This could also mean you don’t have to have your boiler on for as long, reducing your consumption.

6. Leave space around your radiators

If you tend to dry clothes on your radiators to minimise how much you’re using the tumble dryer, you are actually blocking a considerably large amount of heat off that instead, could be helping to keep your house warm.

Your clothes are actually an obstruction, as they can stop heat from being generated into the room, affecting the radiator's efficiency. Doing this can also create condensation and mould. Damp clothes hung on your radiators produce excess moisture that goes into the atmosphere and settles on cold surfaces in your home.

Rather than placing wet clothes onto the radiator, use a clothes airer and put it near to the radiator to help them dry quicker. This will help the performance of your radiators.

Placing a large piece of furniture in front of the radiator can also have the same effect. Although this can not always be avoided if you have limited space in your home, make sure to leave a few inches between the furniture and the radiator can help to prevent heat from being blocked off, allowing the warm air that is emitted to fill your home instead.

7. Open and close your curtains and blinds at the right time

Although it’s getting cold outside, we still get the occasional sunny day in winter so opening your blinds or curtains to let the warmth in can help to heat your home.

However, when it starts to get dark, this is the optimal time to close your blinds and curtains as they act as great insulators and prevent any heat that is already inside your home from being transferred outside.

Your home tends to lose heat through conduction, meaning that the warm air inside will seek out and transfer outside. This can happen if you have thinly lined curtains as they tend not to retain much heat. Upgrading to thermal curtains that are made from heavier and thicker materials are a great energy saving option as they provide an additional layer of insulation that can be essential in keeping your house warm.

8. Use your ceiling fan in reverse

Ceiling fans are often known for helping to keep your home cool during summer but you can potentially use this in reverse during winter.

If your home has a ceiling fan, you can set it to rotate in a clockwise direction at a slow speed so it pushes the warm air down. This allows the warm air to circulate evenly around the room, reducing heat from being lost through the ceiling. This can help to regulate the room temperature without having you to adjust your thermostat as often.

Switching your ceiling fan on during the winter can also help to improve the airflow in your home, helping to prevent moisture build-up and damp issues.

9. Get your boiler serviced

Getting your boiler serviced every year is an essential step in ensuring its running at maximum efficiency and performing correctly.

A regular service can also be critical in keeping your energy bills down as if your boiler is not performing correctly, it’s likely it’s been working harder to heat your home, requiring more energy in the process, causing your bills to rise.

Your local Vaillant Advance installer will carry out a 12 point inspection and run the necessary checks to make sure your boiler and central heating system is safe and identify any problems early that could be costly in the future.

A boiler service usually takes between 30 minutes to an hour to allow your installer to complete all the relevant checks and complete any paperwork. It’s important to consider getting your boiler serviced if it's still under guarantee as this will help to maintain this.

Read more about why you should get your boiler serviced here or contact your local installer for more information.

10. Use your appliances efficiently

Although your electrical appliances are an essential part of everyday living, using them in the most efficient way possible. Making some small changes to your daily habits can help lead to significant savings on your bills.

A few small adjustments can include:

Taking shorter showers

Showers are considerably more energy efficient than running a bath each day. However, taking a shorter shower can help to lead to even greater savings on your bills. According to Money Saving Expert, cutting down your shower time by a minute each time could save you up to £207 a year in your energy bills.

Put your washing on a cold and quick cycle

There is a misconception that putting your clothes on a very hot wash is the only way to clean them. However, putting your clothes on a hot cycle can be more costly, as high temperatures require a larger amount of electricity. Instead, putting your wash on a 30 degree wash could use up to 57% less energy, whilst still cleaning your clothes just as well!

It can also be beneficial to do a larger wash, less frequently, even if that just means putting one less wash on per week. Using your washing machine less often but with bigger loads can help contribute to lowering both your energy and water use.

Don’t overfill the kettle

When making a hot drink, only fill the kettle up with the amount of water you require. Filling the kettle up to the maximum each time you need hot water is not only wasteful, but it also is not an efficient way to use your kettle, as more water will require your kettle to use more energy to reach the boiling point.

Adjust the temperature of your fridge freezer

Your fridge freezer is an essential item in your home, but they do tend to use a fair amount of electricity in order to store your food at the right temperature.

Adjusting the temperature of your freezer by a degree can help to reduce your energy bills as it's not having to work as hard to keep your food cool.

It’s also important to try and not overcrowd your freezer as the more items in it, the harder the appliance as to work, requiring more energy in the process.

Use ‘eco’ mode on your appliances if possible

Modern electrical appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and microwaves tend to have an ‘eco’ setting available, meaning they operate at a lower speed and cooler temperatures. By opting for the eco setting, your appliances are using less energy helping to save money on your bills.

For older appliances it may be worth looking to invest in a more efficient model for longer term benefits including energy savings and warranty cover.

For more tips on how to make your home heating system more efficient, contact your local Vaillant installer

For more tips to save energy around your home, check out the energy saving trust