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Top 5 Budget Tips to Improve Home Energy Efficiency
We’d all like to be more energy efficient, whether that’s because we want to reduce our impact on the environment or because we simply want to save money on our utilities bills! There are certain things you can do that have a major effect on the heat energy that’s lost from your home, such as double glazing your windows and insulating your loft, but these are very expensive and it will be some years before the energy savings you get from them offsets the original cost.
Luckily, for those who’d like to get started cutting down on their energy usage straight away but who don’t necessarily have the time or money to make any major changes, there are still some low-cost (or even free!) ideas that will minimise both your carbon footprint and your monthly expenditure on gas or electricity bills...
1. Close Your Curtains
Your windows are a major source of heat loss in the house. During the daytime, when it’s sunny, they work wonders to warm the room up, in much the same way as a greenhouse works. Unfortunately, come night-time they let that same heat straight back out.
Double glazing is designed to reduce this but if you can’t afford it, at least draw the curtains when it starts to get dark outside to keep the warmth inside. Even better, invest in some heavy, thick curtains which will do a better job than anything sheer or flimsy.
2. Clean Your Refrigerator Coils
Your fridge works by pumping coolant through a coil whilst a fan blows air over them. The moving air carries heat away from the refrigerant inside the coils, keeping your fridge nice and cold. Unfortunately, the fan also blows a lot of dust onto the coils which builds up over time, reducing the efficiency of the system – and, let’s face it, when was the last time you cleaned your refrigerator coils?
So, at least once every 6 months, you should pull your fridge out and give those coils a good clean. It’s also a good idea to leave a slightly larger gap between the fridge and the wall to help the fan to circulate air easily. It also goes without saying that you’ll improve the efficiency of the fridge if you keep it away from any sources of heat such as direct sunlight, radiators or the oven, and always let hot food cool down before putting it inside.
3. Insulate Your Water Heater
You might not have the funds to fork out for expensive loft insulation, but an insulating blanket for your water heater is one thing you can’t afford to not have. They’re relatively cheap and available from any good DIY store, and will hugely improve the heater’s efficiency – especially if it’s quite an old one – by reducing the amount of heat that escapes, so less energy is needed to keep the water at the required temperature.
4. Turn Appliances Off
The average household spends £40 a year on electricity for appliances that have been left in ‘standby’ mode rather than switched off completely. The key is to look for that little red light, such as at the bottom of your TV screen, that shows the appliance is not really switched off. It’s a common misconception that your remote control will turn an appliance off – more often than not, the power button is really just a standby button, so always use the switch on the appliance itself or, if it doesn’t have one, turn it off at the wall socket.
5. Dry Your Clothes Outside
In the spring and summer when it’s warm outside, take advantage of the amazing drying power of the sun and hand your clothes on a washing line rather than using a tumble dryer. You’ll be amazed at the amount of money you save, both directly by not spending so much on electricity and also indirectly on not buying so many new clothes – tumble dryers are notorious for damaging the threads in most materials over time and will make your clothes look worn quicker. The heat also ruins anything with elastic, so if you’re a fan of stretchy t-shirts or expensive underwear you definitely want to pop them on a clothes line!
If you don’t have a garden, you can still dry your clothes indoors. Spin them after washing to remove excess water (so they don’t drip) and then hang them on a clothes horse in a small room, alongside a de-humidifier. These appliances are relatively cheap to buy, extremely cheap to run and will literally suck the moisture right out of the air to dry your clothes in no time, sun or no sun.
These are just five of the many home efficiency tips and tricks that exist. Other things such as only boiling the amount of water you really need in a kettle and popping a lid on your saucepans when cooking may seem insignificant, but those little bits of energy you’ll save each time will really add up over time and can save you a lot of money over the course of a year. Do you have any other great, low-cost ideas to improve home energy efficiency?
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