Reduce your energy consumption

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In the St Albans District, the energy we use in our homes accounts for nearly half of our overall emissions. By making your home more energy efficient you can help to reduce emissions and save yourself up to £300 per year in energy costs. If each household in St Albans did this, we would reduce our overall emissions by 11%. It really does pay to be green!

The Council has been helping local households to reduce energy for many years. Our Home Energy Conservation Plan sets out our approach to reducing energy consumption across all homes in the district. This page outlines some of the ways that you can reduce the energy you use in your home.

Our handy Energy Saving Leaflet can be downloaded below or collected from the Council Offices.

Monitor your consumption

Read your meter

Read your meter regularly to ensure your bills are accurate and up to date. If you are not sure how to read your meter there is help available here, or you can ask your supplier to do it for you. You should keep a record for yourself and send a copy to your energy supplier regularly.

Electricity Monitor

Handheld Electricity Monitors

Residents of St. Albans District can borrow a smart meter for free three-week loan from any of the libraries. These allow you to monitor your real time energy use and are a great educational tool. Why not see which of your appliances are using the most energy? Or try switching everything off to find hidden energy use.

Smart Meters

Energy suppliers have started installing smart meters for domestic energy users in the UK. Smart meters communicate data directly to energy suppliers, allowing suppliers to issue accurate bills, whilst removing the need for meter readings. Having accurate consumption data will also make switching supplier smoother and faster.

Keep the heat in

An uninsulated house will lose around 60% of its heat through the roof and walls. Insulation is a vital first step in making your home more energy efficient. You will soon see the savings and there might be financial assistance to help you (see the grants for energy efficiency page).  

Lofts: By laying 27cm of insulation, the UK minimum standard, in an uninsulated loft, you can expect to save about £175 per year in energy.

Cavity wallsSolid walls: Before the 1920's most homes were built with solid walls. The only way to insulate these is by fitting insulation to the inside or outside of the wall. This could save around £450 per year. 

Cavity walls: After the 1920's most homes were built with external cavity walls. This means there is an air gap between the inner and outer walls which can be filled. Cavity wall insulation could save you around £135 per year. 

Gaps: Draught-proofing your home is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to improve its energy efficiency, potentially saving £25-£50 per year in energy. Many gaps are simple to fix yourself with a tube of sealant bought from any DIY store.

Floorboards: Insulating beneath the ground floorboards could save you around £60 a year in energy bills. Many newer homes have a ground floor made of solid concrete which may be insulated with a solid insulation board on top. Older homes are more likely to have suspended timber floors which can be insulated by laying mineral wool insulation beneath the floorboards. Care should be taken to ensure you don't block under-floor air bricks though as floorboards may rot without adequate ventilation.

Windows: If you can't afford double glazing, you can invest in secondary glazing or thick, thermally lined curtains to keep the heat in. Don't let curtains hang in front of the radiators though otherwise the outside wall will benefit from the heat instead of the room! Use draught proofing strips around the frame, brush strips work better for sash windows.

Doors: You can easily improve the energy efficiency of doors by fitting draught-proofing strips around the edges, brush on the bottom, and hinged draught excluders on the letter box. These are all relatively cheap from any DIY store and easy to fit. 

Fireplaces: If you don't use your fireplace, it is probably a source of unnecessary draughts. You can fit a cap over the chimney pot or buy an inflatable draught excluder to fit within the chimney, which can easily be removed if you decide to light a fire. 

If you are looking to install insulation in your home, the National Insulation Association (NIA) provides a list of registered manufacturers and installers. Try to choose a local installer as by doing so you support the local economy and reduce congestion and emissions on the roads.

Download our free Home Insulation Guide below

Take control of the heating

Older boilers are inefficient. By replacing an old boiler with a new, condensing boiler, you could lower your energy bills by up to £300 a year. You may be eligible to receive financial support to help you.

Room thermostats monitor warmth in specific rooms and adjust the boiler operations accordingly. Your room thermostats should be set to your lowest comfortable temperature, typically 18-21 ºC. You don't need to turn your thermostat up when it is colder outside as the house will still be heated to the same temperature(although it might take a bit longer to warm up on colder days). Programmable room thermostats allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day. 

Thermostatic radiator valves reduce the flow of water through the radiator. You can set each one to the level you want for the room, using less energy for a lower flow of water.

If you have electric heating, visit the Energy Saving Trust website for information on how to get the best from your heating controls. 

Temporary electric heaters are very expensive and inefficient to run but if you need temporary, instant heating then it's important to choose the most efficient version. Fan and halogen (glow) heaters heat the air in front of them quickly and are good for short blasts of heat. However, the room will quickly cool down once they are turned off. Oil-filled radiators and convection heaters heat the air more slowly but are better at heating the whole room and are best suited for rooms which are used for long periods.

Hot water

hot shower

It's easy to forget the connection between our water and energy use. By reducing the amount of hot water you use, say by shortening your showers or cutting down on baths, you will save money on your energy bills. Whilst water is a comparatively cheap commodity if you aren’t on a meter, you will still be using energy to heat it. Make sure you set your boiler controls so that you only heat the water when you need it and not when you don't.

If you have a hot water cylinder make sure it is fitted with a tank jacket. These cost around £15 but could save you £45 per year on your energy bill, or even more if you have electric water heating. It's also a good idea to insulate the hot water pipes connecting your heating system if they are not yet insulated.

Hunt down the energy hungry appliances

Energy Saving Trust Recommended LogoCheck the running costs of your appliances

Our homes are filled with more and more electrical items but most of us have no idea how much it costs to power them all. The Sust-it website allows you to check the running costs of thousands of electrical products. This is useful when you are shopping for a new appliance but also to help you understand how much your existing electrical products cost to run. Look out for products marked with the Energy Saving Trust recommended logo as these are the most energy efficient products on the market.

Avoid stand-by

UK households waste £227 million a year by leaving electrical appliances on standby. If you live in one of the 76% of households which leave electrical appliances on standby, you could save around £36 a year by turning them off at the plug when not in use. If you can't physically reach all your plug sockets to turn things off, it might be worth investing in remote control plug sockets, which can be ordered online for around £10 each (or cheaper when bought in sets).

Other Tips

  • Boil just the water you need in your kettle. Over-filling kettles vastly increases the energy needed and is literally money poured down the drain.
  • Try turning your washing machine setting down to 30 ºC. Most modern washing powders are just as effective at lower temperatures.

  • Drying clothes can be free! Avoid the tumble drier, especially in summer. 

  • Defrost your fridge and freezer regularly to ensure they run efficiently.

  • Replace old light bulbs with newer, more energy efficient ones, such as Energy Saving Trust Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) could save you around £30 per year. Although more expensive initially, LEDs are even more efficient than CFLs and will save you more money in the long-term.

Date of last review: 21 December 2017