Simple ways to improve the efficiency of your home – Part 2

The second and possibly shorter post on improving your home.

Water efficiency

Start with your water companies website and see what you can get for free from them. My local company Thames offer a few here. I suspect that like the energy companies they don’t do this out of the kindness of their hearts but that is no reason not to take advantage of the offers. If you get a choice you can replicate a hippo with that old fashioned solution of a brick in the cistern so the tap and shower heads are probably a better bet.

So once you have your freebies what else can you do?

Toilets

A good way to use loads of water for not very much. If you get a new one make sure it is dual flush. For older ones you can retrofit a low water flush system, mine allows you to choose as much or as little water as you want and has worked fine for over 5 years despite attempts by visitors to pull the handle off the wall. There are a number of systems available in DIY stores to do the same for you and I am sure you can find them in local stores as well as B&Q.

Get a water butt

Simple to install, you may even get a discount through your water company again. Save the water that falls on your roof and use it throughout the garden.

Install a green roof and rain garden

A rain garden is one that saves rain water and makes the best use of it. Typically they are fed by the gutters from your house. They cut the amount of water used on your garden and also contribute to reducing runoff from your garden and help avoid localised flooding. You do need a slope away from your house (however slight) to do this cheaply and easily.

You can also combine one of these with a green roof and drainage chains for a really attractive and water efficient house makeover. If you want to know more have a look at my website and get in touch

Traditional measures

There are many traditions of home decoration that can reduce the energy use of our houses:

Carpets

These provide insulation against draughts from under skirtings and gaps in floorboards, especially with a nice thick recycled underlay. They also provide much better acoustics for a room than harsh wooden floors, you might be able to hear what your friends are saying if pubs brought back a good thick carpet over the wooden boards.

Curtains

Nice lined and fitted curtains reduce draughts and provide some degree of insulation. If you have radiators under your windows (an obsession with British builders) make sure the curtain is behind not in front of them so you reduce heat loss.

Blinds

Because they are tighter to the window these can be even more efficient that curtains. Studies by Scottish Heritage have shown that thermal blinds can lower heat loss through windows almost as much as insulated shutters.

Doors

Doors are excellent insulators and shutting them is a good start to reducing draughts in the house and annoying any indigenous teenagers. Draught snakes are always nice to have and allow you to control the ventilation in your room.

Renewables

Whilst these won’t make your home any more efficient they will reduce the amount of power and heat you need to bring in to the home. There are a wide number of options which are suitable for different houses.

If you want to know more about possibilities for improving your house do get in touch.

Simple ways to improve the efficiency of your home Part 1

This is based on my recent talk at the London Green Fair and includes links to extra information and websites that may be useful.

The ideas here are deliberately simple and hopefully easy for most people to follow at home. There are no numbers, U values and technical terms, just ways for you to make your house warmer and cut your bills. Based on my experience working on people’s house s through Ecoalex ltd, I estimate a cut in bills of 10-15% is possible just by implementing a few of these changes.

Insulation

There are three main areas where you can add insulation to your house, the roof, walls and floor:

Roof

Currently you can get your loft insulated for free by many energy companies as part of the Carbon Emission Reduction Targets set for them by government. So if your loft isn’t insulated get it done now, latest deals on the Money Saving Expert site here. The offers won’t last forever and this will save you money.

Walls

Again, cavity wall can be free at the moment so get it done if you can.If you have solid walls it is more complicated and expensive but consider solid wall insulation.

Floor

If you have a cellar it can be quite easy to put insulation under your floor. If not it is probably only worth considering if you have the floors up for another reason or there is a major draught problem with the floor. Carpets can help tremendously.

Energy

You have probably replaced most of your old fashioned energy guzzling bulbs now. However, evil bulbs may well still lurk in your house, particularly the kitchen. Halogen spots are the scourge of anyone trying to reduce their electricity bills. Inefficient producers of light that heat up so much they need fire protection these bulbs are usually used as down lighters restricting their light to a small area of the room. I don’t expect people to change their lighting entirely but changing these bulbs can make a huge difference to your energy use. On a recent survey I worked out that replacing 7 50 watt bulbs with low energy LED bulbs would save £40 a year (based on 3 hours use a day) and cost about £60 so the bulbs pay for themselves in 18 months. They also last longer and aren’t a fire hazard.

Turn things off

You have probably done this already in your house but remember to turn off the TV properly and unplug mobile phone chargers etc. They don’t use a lot of electricity individually but collectively it builds up and they don’t do anything when you aren’t using them.

Get an energy monitor

These can help you work out where you are using energy and also quite fun. The list on money saving expert is getting a little old but a good place to start.

Heating

Check your boiler on the boiler efficiency website and see if it is worth replacing with a more efficient model. This can be quite expensive but save quite a lot.

Put panels behind radiators on outside walls. If your radiators are under windows make sure they aren’t covered by curtains and consider a shel above them to reflect heat back into the room.

Loft insulation with clutter part 2

So a slow update, didn’t take long to get the stilts in but got caught up in other projects and only just returned to writing this up.

The stilts arrived in a timely manner, they are made of recycled plastic and feel very tough. We then spent most of the day preparing the loft and clearing out the boards that were already there. Once this was done putting in the stilts was relatively easy. So the loft is prepared and waiting for the insulation guys to come in and lay it out. Looks a bit sinister in the photo though: Image

Find out more about insulation in your home at my website