Saving Money on your Water Heating

EPC Bromley

You’re probably aware of how much you pay for water each year as well as being aware how much your electricity and gas bills are.  But are you aware of exactly how much you spend on heating water in your home?  EPC Bromley looked into this and the ways you could save money.

In Bromley, the average household gets through approximately 330 litres of water every single day.  If your home and hot water is heated by gas then you can safely assume that around 15% of your heating bill is for heating your hot water.  EPC Bromley would estimate that this amounts to around £80 per year.

If we save water we can save money.  This is obvious if you are on a water meter, but it can also have an impact on your energy bill.  It also helps your local environment and your carbon footprint.  The heating of water domestically, contributes to around four per cent of the total CO2 emissions in the UK.

Boilers

The set up in most houses means that the hot water you use is provided by a boiler.  This hot water is either supplied directly in the case of a combi boiler, or by way of a hot water cylinder with a standard boiler.  If it’s the latter system there will also likely be an electric immersion heater included.

One of the most important tips EPC Bromley can give you is to advise you to always use the boiler to heat the hot water, even in summer.  Using the immersion heater will always cost more money (unless using solar) and should only be used as a last resort.

Immersion Heated Water

If you don’t have a mains boiler heating your home then you may not have the facility to use gas or oil.  In this case you’ll most likely have to heat your hot water by way of an immersion heater.

Most of these kind of storage cylinders contain two elements.  One is located at the bottom and will heat all of the hot water at nighttime using off peak electricity at lower prices.  The top element will be used in the day when top ups are required.

In these cases the one thing EPC Bromley can recommend is to ensure that you do not have the immersion switched on all day and all night.  You’ll waste a huge amount of money heating water when you don’t need it.

Top Tips to Reduce Water Heating Bills

  1. Simply try to use less hot water!  Shower instead of bath, fill up washing up sink instead of running tap.
  2. Ensure that your hot water cylinder is adequately insulated.  If you have no insulation then putting a hot water jacket around it is cheap and saves as much as £20 a year.  Consider insulating hot water pipes too.
  3. Make sure you have the correct controls.  Use a timer, never have your hot water set for 24 hours as you will be heating hot water at totally unnecessary times.  Make sure you have a thermostat on your cylinder and ensure it is set to 60°C.  Any higher and it is a waste as it is too hot to use.  Any lower and you run the risk of legionella.
  4. Can you switch fuels?  If gas is available use it, it is far cheaper than gas or oil.
  5. Solar water heating (also known as solar thermal) can give you almost all the hot water you need. This is at virtually zero running cost.

Hot House Howlers – Turning Down the Heat At Home

EPC Bromley

A recent government survey suggests that we are heating our homes to a far greater temperature than we have in the past.  It suggested that the average home was up to four degrees centigrade hotter than it was in the early seventies.  This is something that EPC Bromley has also noticed during domestic energy surveys in Bromley.

The total energy we as a nation consume is falling, but the energy that is being consumed in people’s homes is up by over 30%.  The fact that there are approximately eight million more homes than there were in 1970 does play a part, but our heating habits also have to shoulder a large part of the blame.

An issue with these figures is using averages means that people at the extreme end of energy usage are ignored, despite being the main part of the problem.  My father-in-law, for example, sets his home thermostat on 27°C and has the timer set on 24/7.  When we visit we spend the time turning the thermostat down, opening windows and switching off radiators.

It’s people at this end of the spectrum who make us forget about people at the other, those in fuel poverty who struggle to heat their homes at all.

It may be true that on the coldest days of the year, a tweak upwards of a few degrees on the thermostat will actually make a difference.  But it’s forgetting to turn the thermostat back down again after the temperature rises to something we can bear, that’s where the problem lies.  It is imperative that our homes have the right set up when it comes to heating controls.

Recommendations

In a traditionally heated home with a gas boiler, EPC Bromley recommends that you have the following in place in order to have effective control of your heating.  If you have all of these in place you will achieve the highest score on your energy performance certificate.

  • A room thermostat
  • A timer (for heating and hot water)
  • Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)

Technology

There are also a range of technological breakthroughs for the tech savvy.  These include smartphone apps with which you can accurately set timings and temperatures for your heating system.  Some even make use of GPS to ensure that the heating switches on and off as you leave and return to the house. 

Some of these apps are actually being introduced by the energy companies themselves.

Our obsession with modern technology may in fact end up being the solution to our energy usage at home, but it’s worth remembering that these apps are far more effective for owners of large detached houses, than they are for people in smaller properties and flats. 

In the case of the latter, something as simple as effective draught proofing may prove cheaper and more efficient in the opinion of EPC Bromley.

Lighting your Home The Energy Efficient Way in Bromley

EPC Bromley

A recent survey carried out by the Energy Saving Trust found that in the UK, we could save more than £1.4 billion every year on our electricity bills by simply replacing our old inefficient bulbs.

This is something we consistently find at EPC Bromley.  Houses continue to have the traditional but completely inefficient old style halogen and incandescent bulbs.  This is despite the huge cost saving potential of using energy saving light bulbs, such as LEDs and CFL bulbs.

EPC Bromley estimated that the saving could be as much as £50 per year per household.

The UK is well behind other countries in Europe when it comes to our yearly LED purchases.  Just one-third of all of our bulb purchases are LEDs.

According to EPC Bromley, Why is this the case in the UK?

Perhaps people are confused as to exactly what energy saving bulbs they should be buying in each case?  Perhaps the information available is too confusing?  When comparing the 60 watt wattage in an incandescent bulb to the comparable wattage in an LED bulb the much lower and varied wattages can certainly be confusing.

It seems that clear labelling is certainly one of the issues.

Price would seem to be another.  LED bulbs can often cost around the £7 mark, whereas the old fashioned equivalent can cost significantly more.  When replacing all the bulbs in the house it can certainly seem quite expensive, the £50 per year saving ends up looking quite small.

However, most LED bulbs have an expected lifespan of between ten and twenty years.  This means that you may never have to replace them in all the time you live in the house.  As we all know, the same cannot be said of halogen bulbs, some of which seem to go every other week!

At EPC Bromley we highly recommend LED bulbs, not only because of the cost saving but because of the crisp white light and stylish designs which complement any house.  If you think that low energy bulbs need to be ugly, curly and dim, think again.

Draught Proofing Recommendations

EPC Bromley

Whether you’re looking to make improvements before you have your EPC done, or are following the recommendations after getting it done, these improvements always seem to be a little expensive.  At EPC Bromley we feel that this needn’t be the case.

The improvements that are going to have to greatest effect on your energy efficiency rating are things such as a new boiler (up to and sometimes over £1,000); solid wall insulation (£4,000-£10,000, depending on the size of your property); and Solar PV (around £6,000 – £9,000).

These aren’t exactly cheap but each one will give you a significant improvement on your energy efficiency.  You might even be considering the dreaded but often weirdly recommended solid floor insulation.  A massive expense, a huge upheaval but for very little reward, why it’s constantly recommended is anyone’s guess?  The recommendation from EPC Bromley is not to bother with this.

The cheapest and one of the most effective ways to make your home more energy efficient is draught proofing.  Remember, there are two considerations when you are trying to make your house warmer.  Firstly, what it says on paper, secondly, what makes it feel warmer.  Draught proofing definitely fits into the second category, especially on houses built in 1939 or before.

Where do you need to draught proof?

  • Doors and Windows  – The edges are the most obvious places but don’t forget about letterboxes and keyholes.  If you aren’t able to install double glazing or can’t afford to, then remember that secondary glazing can be just as effective.
  • Suspended floorboards – Most houses pre 1930s will be built on suspended floorboards.  Make sure the gaps are sealed in between the floorboards, check whether there are any gaps between skirting and floor.
  • Chimneys – If you have a chimney that is not in use then ensure that it is sealed up properly.  Ensure there are no gaps.
  • Pipework and electrics – Sometimes holes have been drilled through walls to allow pipes or cables through.  Ensure that all of these holes are filled in and that no warm air can escape.
  • Loft hatch – An often forgotten part to insulate when loft insulation is done as a DIY project.  Don’t only insulate the loft hatch, but ensure that the edges are also protected.

What does EPC Bromley recommend when it comes to draught proofing?

Although draught proofing can be done relatively cheaply, it is still important to make sure you use an effective product in every area.

Remember that window frames and floor boards made of wood will expand and contract as they heat and cool every day, so a material that can tolerate this movement is important.  Wooden frames can sometimes warp too, leaving irregular gaps to fill, a product that can fill these gaps is important to consider as well.

Why is draught proofing important?

Warm air is attracted to cold air, if there is a gap to the outside then warm air will be sucked out of it, meaning your heating will have to work even harder to warm your home to the temperature you desire.  Not only is this energy consumption bad for the environment, it’s also costing you money.

EPC Bromley recommends popping down your local DIY shop and investing small for a potentially larger gain.

Top Ten Tips for Better Home Energy Efficiency in Bromley

EPC Bromley

Read below for the top ten tips for energy efficiency in your home from EPC Bromley.

  1. Replace light bulbs with LEDs – Gone are the days when energy efficient light bulbs made your light fittings look ugly and were as bright as a flickering candle.  Modern LED spotlights, for example, are now bright enough  to replace your halogens and they come in all shapes and sizes to fit any light fitting.
  1. Control your heating – Your heating and hot water take up over half of your monthly fuel bills.  Ensuring you have a heating programmer, a room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves and using them effectively could save you a ton of money each year.
  1. Draught proofing – Unless you have a particularly modern home you will be losing heat through gaps around doors and windows, or through the floorboards or chimney.  DIY draught proofing can prove to be incredibly cheap.
  1. Insulate your hot water tank – Your tank should have highly efficient foam insulation fitted around it.  If it doesn’t, then purchase a hot water cylinder jacket.  It’s far less efficient but better than nothing!
  1. Wall insulation – Cavity wall insulation is efficient and cheap (sometimes free!).  If you need solid wall insulation then it is far more expensive, but will save you hundreds of pounds in heating bills each year.
  1. Ensure you have double glazing – Double glazing fitted after 2002 is far more efficient than before.  If you are unable to install double glazing then secondary glazing can be just as effective.
  1. Loft insulation – Very important, if you have no loft insulation at all then this will seriously affect the energy efficiency of your house.  Remember, the recommended minimum depth is 270 mm.  If you place floorboards over the top of insulation it is only as effective as the depth it is squashed to.
  1. Use your shower rather than a bath – Showers use far less water than a bath, therefore your boiler is working less time to heat the water.
  1. Install solar energy – Solar thermal panels for hot water and Solar PV panels for electricity will not only make your home more energy efficient, but they will also save you a lot of money.  If you live in a rural area it is also worth considering a wind turbine.
  1. Track your energy usage – Energy monitors help you to keep an eye on how much energy you are using.  Most energy providers will be able to supply you with one.

If you need any other advice regarding domestic energy efficiency, call EPC Bromley to speak to an expert.