Energy is ever more expensive, and its use has become a hot topic
politically. Here are various ways DIYers can save energy.
Draughtproofing is an easy minimum cost way to save energy in old
houses. Self adhesive foam strip, profiled rubber strip and brush
strip are all effective. Low cost self adhesive foams tend to have
short life, but still save money. Draughtproof all 4 edges of doors,
windows and letterbox.
===Cavity wall insulation===
Make sure you've got it, if you have cavity walls of a suitable type
(rattrap bond and rubble walls should ''not'' be cavity filled.)
Grants are widely available. The increased cost to heat a house for
several years without [[insulation]] is greater than the cost of the
Lots of it. Loft insulation is an especially effective way to achieve
Where goods are stored in the loft, boxed items trap air and thus have
some insulating value.
===Solid wall insulation===
Non-cavity walls can have [[insulation]] applied to the inner or outer
surface. The cost and work involved are of course greater than cavity
There are 3 ways to fit interior insulation.
# Timber battens, insulation between, plasterboard, skim with plaster
# Solid sheet insulation, plasterboard, skim
# Solid sheet insulation with a hard cement front surface, skim
Exterior insulation usually consists of solid sheet insulation, with
EML screwed in place over it, then rendered with cement mortar.
Insulating render is an alternative option with lower insulation
For the financially struggling, its possible to insulate walls for £2
where appearance doesn't matter. Cardboard or narrow card boxes
brushed with borax solution are held in place with wallpaper adhesive.
Some people retrofit insulation under suspended timber floors and
concrete floors. Both involve taking the whole floor up, so are only
occasionally practical. The saving can be significant over time, if
the floor had to come up anyway. If not, there's a lot of input to pay
Retrofitting double glazing usually fails to pay its costs back. Also
it incurs the additional cost (and energy use) of replacing failed
sealed glazing units.
* can pay back
can cause rot of timber windows
* Acrylic secondary glazing eventually deteriorates, unlike glass.
Secondary glazing starts at about £6 a window using plastic film
glazing. This lasts a couple of years if not abused, but is very
vulnerable to kids.
* Polythene sheet costs less than £1 a window, but isn't clear and
doesn't shrink flat with a hairdryer. It does not look good.
Sliding sash windows can be draughty. A few types of draughtproofing
can be fitted.
A favoured method is to remove the sliding sash, route a groove around
its perimeter and insert a thin brush strip. This works well and stops
rattles too, though it does make the window slide less freely. One
alternative product used in the same way is a simple flexible plastic
The cheapest method is to apply sellotape all along the gap where sash
meets frame. Don't forget the gap where the 2 sashes meet.
Lead is an excellant thermal conductor, leaded windows have lots of
it, and the design of these windows often leads to draughts. Secondary
glazing dramatically improves the performance of these windows.
Heavy curtains help reduce heat loss at night.
The steel frames conduct heat out of the building. Secondary glazing
If a steel window doesn't close properly, excess paint build up is
often the cause. Crittall steel windows were only designed to tolerate
upto 3 layers of paint, and most are now old enough to have a good
deal more than that on them.
Damaged windows that don't align properly can be draughtproofed by
applying silicone, placing polythene sheet over the silicone to
prevent it sticking to the opening sash, and closing the window. The
sealant is thus moulded in situ to block any gaps.
There are some heating systems around with no room thermostat! if you
can't find a room stat, you need one.
Some old boilers used cast iron heat exchangers. These exchangers are
horribly inefficient and should be replaced.
The cost versus saving case is less clear cut for the more common old
boilers with pressed metal exchangers. Modern boilers often have much
shorter lives and higher repair costs, offsetting quite a lot of fuel
Boiler efficiency and maximum heating system output both depend on the
temperature of the primary heating water circuit, which is usually
controlled by a thermostat on the boiler. Reducing this temperature
reduces max system heat output, but improves efficiency. The
thermostat on the boiler can be turned down in milder weather, and up
again in cold times.
===Programmable room stat===
These save money if you use them to heat the house to a lower temp for
part of the day. if you don't, they won't save a thing.
TRVs improve the room by room thermal control, shaving costs. Despite
the name they are only partially thermostatic, and offer improvement
rather than complete control. Heating systems should have a TRV on all
radiators except one.
===Turn radiators off===
Turn off radiators in spare rooms etc
===Room programmers & thermostats===
Controlling the timing of heating or the temperature indiviually for
each room trims waste further. However its not trivial to fit such
control systems, and not many DIYers do so.
This costs much more than mains gas to run.
Wearing clothes saves energy. Wearing additional clothes saves more
energy. It seems obvious, but does get overlooked.
Replacing filament with [[CFL]] saves money - not everyone likes them
though. Ignore the claimed equivalents on the packet, 4x is a more
realistic rule of thumb, with 3x for reflector types.
Where appearance doesn't matter, eg for garages, linear fluorescent is
the most energy efficient of all domestic lighting types. The longer
the tubes, the more efficient.
Halogen downlighting is a particularly energy hungry type of domestic
lighting. Energy use can be cut by a fator of 10x by changing to CFL
lights, not using them as downlighting.
The appearance of halogen can be retained to a fair extent by using 5w
or 10w halogen spotlights and adding concealed CFL or linear
A lot of 500w halogen outdoor lighting can have the bulbs replaced
with 150w ones.
[[Dimmed PIR Lights|Dimming PIR fittings]] waste thousands of pounds.
See [[Dimmed PIR Lights]]
A switchbank can much reduce lighting cost in many cases.
Dimmers only work with filament lamps, and produce little saving
compared to full brightness, and waste energy compared to switching
less total bulb power on.
Packing the machine full before use reduces frequency of run and total
energy use. Its quite common to see machines run when they could have
twice as much in them and still clean everything. A full machine costs
half as much per week to run, and the machine lasts much longer.
If you use a high temperature wash, a lower temp wash program saves
40C washes use less energy than hotter programs, but machines do need
at least an occasional hot wash to clean the machine. Pongs result
Washing below 40 isn't recommended, muck builds up and pong eventually
takes over. Buying a new machine because you used cool washes is not
An occasional boil wash with citric acid helps keep the machine clean,
prolonging is useful life. For maximum effectiveness, when the water
in the tub has reached close to boiling, switch machine off and leave
overnight. Complete the wash program in the morning.
Users of economy 7 type schemes may find the washing machine too noisy
to run at night on half price leccy. This is often solvable by fitting
noise reduction to the machine.
Most of the energy use of tumble driers can be avoided with this
Drying clothes on a line outdoors costs nothing in summer.
Put foods to be cooked in without preheating the oven. The food's
ready a couple of minutes sooner, and you lose 5 minutes of on-time.
I've never found any downside to this.
Use lids on pans, turning the gas down very low. Once water is at
boiling point, its impossible to make foods cook any faster. Its
common to see people using over 10x as much gas as is needed to cook
Note that all the food must be covered by water or some won't cook so
quickly. Cooking on high heat causes the water level in the pan to
fall, resulting in slowed cooking if anything less than high heat is
used to maintain steam above the water. This leads some to mistakenly
think if they reduce the heat their food wont cook as quickly.
On high setting, a lot of the flame's heat passes right by the pan. On
a low setting, heat transfer is efficient.
Glass plates can be used on pans that don't have glass lids. They make
the food visible, and are the right shape to return the steam
condensate back to the food. Glass pans make it easier to see that the
food is still boiling, but not too vigorously.
Sometimes 2 foods can be cooked in the one pan together.
Vegetables can be microwaved instead of boiled, giving better flavour,
less loss of nutrients, quicker cooking and much less energy use. Add
1tb of butter & water to the veg, cover, shake to mix, and nuke.
Soups that were traditionally cooked for an hour plus can usually be
cooked much quicker in the microwave, with better flavour. Also many
soups only need some of the ingredients cooking, and others (eg tinned
ingredients) can be added after the cooking.
Potato skin should not be eaten if cooked in a microwave, as it doesnt
get enough time to fully neutralise the toxins.
A microwave & convection combi cooker can cook with both methods at
once. This can produce oven like results with a fraction of the
cooking time and energy use.
Kitchen extractor fans can throw a fair bit of heat away. They reduce
the sticky grease that's caused by boiling food on the hob - so
there's no point using them in winter when only the oven's on. Use the
minimum fan speed required to remove most of the steam.
Using low hob power with lids eliminates most of the kitchen grease
Old non-jug kettles waste energy by boiling more water than is often
Boiling the exact amount of water needed reduces energy use. This is
hard to judge but easy to measure. A kettle uses around half as much
energy as a microwave if the exact amount of water is boiled.
If keen to save energy, cooking lots of servings at once and freezing
uses less energy per meal. The savings are even greater with baby
meals, which are pricey in jars, considering the content.
===Low energy cooking===
A few methods can be used by people really determined to save energy.
There are many hot dishes that require little or no cooking. Short
order cooking is the name of the art of creating good quality dishes
Haybox cookery produces slow cooked meals using only enough power to
heat them up.
Thermos cooking is the modern version of the haybox. Soups can be put
in a thermos uncooked, and be ready by lunch time. The small capacity
of thermoses is a major limitation though.
On some freezers a non-obvious fault makes the compressor run
continuously. This increases electricity consumption to in the region
of £50-£70 a year, or upto £200 a year for freezers decades old. At
£500-£2000 per decade its cheaper to buy a new one. Its caused by
partial loss of coolant, and can happen at any time to any freezer.
Occasionally people have stuck polystyrene foam insulation over the
outside of their freezer to cut energy consumption even further. This
does work, and is sometimes considered by people running a very small
offgrid power system.
Old freezers from the 1970s consume enough extra power to cost more
even if they were free.
A power monitoring meter makes people aware of what is using how much,
and this usually results in painless energy reductions. There are 2
types of meter. One indicates total house power consumption. The other
monitors the power use over time of one appliance or one lead. Savings
usually pay for the meter cost.
A desktop PC may use 70w and its monitor 30-70w, versus a laptop's 20w
(approx variable figures). If a machine's in use 24/7, the difference
between the 2 is around £50 per year. Whether its worth moving over to
a laptop depends on the laptop cost.
Desktop computer power supplies often have poor efficiency due to cost
cutting. High efficiency power supplies for use in desktop machines
==TV & Monitor==
LCD monitors use less power than CRTs. However its not enough saving
to offset the cost of replacing them, or the embodied energy.
Plasma TVs are power hungry, LCDs use far less.
Much political mileage has been made of appliances consuming power
while on standby. All consume some, but the quantity and cost of this
power is in most cases tiny. There are occasional exceptions, and if
found such items can be switched fully off when not in use.
Ensure your cylinder has either a foam coating or a fitted jacket.
With jackets, check for any gaps.
Check for dripping or dribbling taps.
Hot water cylinders are usually fitted in restricted spaces, creating
a space around the cylinder where more insulation can be added at no
cost. Packaging peanuts, bubble wrap, jiffy bags, polystyrene foam,
and even screwed up paper all trap air and provide insulation. Ensure
you don't cover the electrical lead to an immersion heater.
Use a lower water flow. Turn off booster pumps. If necessary, turn
water off while soaping.
link to tenagers taking forever
[how to stop teenagers taking forever in the shower]
4-6" of water was standard war time practice, and it does the job.
Batteries are highly inefficient ways to store energy.
Using rechargeable batteries gives a good saving on a lot of battery
appliances. A £10 set of NiMH batteries with charger can achieve
500-1000 charge cycles, replacing anything up to 1000 batteries.
That's a cost equivalent to 1p per dry battery.
Rechargeables aren't well suited to all tasks, as they tend to self
discharge when sitting unused.
Running battery items from a wallwart wipes out almost all the run
cost of batteries.
Finally, check youre getting the best deal on power.
are_you_paying_too_much_for_ga.html Are you being charged triple for
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