Hot Water Cylinder Insulation

Hot Water Cylinder Insulation

Improving the Energy Efficiency of your Hot Water

There’s not a huge amount of difference between a hot water cylinder and a kettle. A hot water element is inserted into a large cylinder which heats and then stores water.  However, it is not necessary to insulate a kettle, but hot water cylinder insulation is essential.

It costs money to heat hot water and (especially if you’re using electricity to heat it) and it will start to lose heat very quickly once heated. Think how quickly the water in your kettle drops from being 100℃ to cool enough to touch. Hot water cylinder insulation is crucial to energy efficiency which in turn leads to financial and environmental savings.

It is also a question of convenience. If hot water is stored effectively it is also available instantaneously as opposed to having to be heated up as required.

All modern cylinders are now supplied with 50mm thick factory fitted foam which is sufficient to sustain hot water temperature. Slightly older cylinders will have foam fitted on the outside at 38mm but even these may need to be improved. The foam wears away and the cut outs for pipework can expose the copper cylinder.

Older cylinders may have no insulation fitted at all. If your cylinder has no or insufficient insulation fitted then it will need to be upgraded. This is simple to do and makes use of a purpose made ‘jacket’ which wraps around the cylinder. The depth of the insulation is normally at 80mm. The cost can be as low as £15 but its addition could save you up to £80 a year in heating costs.

When improving your hot water cylinder insulation it is also worth insulating the pipes around it. The sections that are next to the tank can also lose a lot of heat and are again very easy to insulate.

Hot water cylinder insulation will provide instant improvement in your EPC results.  If you require an EPC or any of our other services, check out the menu above for details of our prices.

Energy Performance Certificates – What Does an Assessor do in Your House?

You know what an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is, but what exactly does an assessor do when they visit your house?  If you call EPC Bromley to arrange an domestic energy assessment then what can you expect when they visit?

Have a look below for a summary of the items that EPC Bromley will consider during the assessment for your EPC.

House Age and Build Type

Working out the year that the house and any extensions were built will tell us what the building regulations were at that time and therefore how energy efficient the house is in general.  A house built in 1930 would have had no insulation fitted to the walls as a regulation, this is not the case with a house built in 2010.

The build type (detached, terrace, flat) tells us where the heat may be escaping from.  A detached house generally has at least four cold walls whereas a semi will have one shared wall which is warm.  A flat could be heated from all sides and have a communal corridor area which is heated too.

Dimensions

Quite simply we measure the volume of your property.  We need to know the amount of space you have to heat before we make a judgement on how you heat it.  We’ll also consider whether you have a conservatory. 

If your conservatory has an outside door sealing it off then it is discounted, if it is open plan then it is included and considered a source where heat can escape more easily.

Walls

Wall types are generally solid, cavity or timber framed and are as efficient as the regulations in place when they were built.  Traditionally, solid walls without insulation were used on houses until well into the 1930s, this kind of wall is very inefficient. 

If it is a cavity wall then we check whether the cavity has been filled with insulation retrospectively, as originally cavity walls were not filled.

Roofs

We poke our head into the loft and see whether it is insulated, if it has then how deep is it?  Traditional insulation at the joists should be at least 270 mm deep.  Remember, if you crush it down with floorboards to 100 mm then it is only 100 mm effective.

Floors

Are they solid or suspended floorboards, has it been insulated or do you have another dwelling below you?

Openings

We consider how many doors you have and whether those doors are insulated.  We look at how much glazing you have and whether it is single, double or triple glazed.  If it’s double glazed we consider what year it was installed, double glazing installed from 2002 onwards is much more efficient than glazing fitted before then.

If it was fitted before 2002 then we consider the frame type (metal, pic or wood) and the gap between the panes of glass.

We also look at how much draught proofing is in place.

Ventilation & Lighting

We look at how many fireplaces the property has and whether these are open, we also look for any mechanical ventilation or cooling systems that are in place.

We count the amount of light fittings and at the same time we count how many of these have low energy bulbs in place.

Heating Systems

How do you heat your home?  If you use a traditional boiler then we consider how efficient that boiler is.  Modern condensing boilers get the highest efficiency scores.

We consider how the heat is distributed (radiators, underfloor) and how that heat is controlled.  Properties that have a room thermostat, thermostatic radiator valves and a heating timer will score  highest.

If your property has more than one heating system then this is also considered as well as any secondary heaters such as a gas or electric fires in the reception rooms.

Water

How do you heat your water?  Do you have a combination boiler or a hot water cylinder?  If it’s a cylinder then how large is it?  Is it insulated?  Does it have a thermostat?  We then consider how many bath/shower rooms are in the property, how many of these have baths, showers or both?

We also look at other options for water heating which may be in place.  These include solar water heating, waster water heat recovery systems (WWHRS) and flue gas heat recovery systems (FGHRS).

New Technologies

We investigate if you have any other new technologies in place like solar photovoltaic panels or a wind turbine.  The terrain you live in is considered(urban, suburban, rural) which determines whether a wind turbine would be suitable.

Checks are made at this point to see what type of electricity meter the property is has (dual or single charge).   If the house isn’t heated by a gas boiler, we see whether there is a gas meter indicating it would be an option.

Any other info

Here’s where you can note whether the property has a swimming pool or  uses a more obscure way to heat itself.  For example micro CHP or a biofuel that isn’t listed in the usual database.

If you don’t understand some of these points, feel free to get in touch with EPC Bromley and ask.  Otherwise your EPC Bromley assessor will be happy to answer any questions you may have whilst the survey is taking place.

Saving Money on your Water Heating

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.

Top Ten Tips for Better Home Energy Efficiency in 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.