Written by Neil Marsh MCIPHE RP RHP EngTech
Energy efficiency is a phrase that is often used today. From a user point of view, for most, the focus will be on reducing the running costs of a home … For others, being more conservative with the planet’s resources will be another reason why people may want to address energy consumption in their homes/properties.
Sadly not all ‘green’ solutions are doing the planet any good. Industrial manufacturing is often not taken into consideration when energy consumption is raised.
All products require materials and energy to produce, of which takes a toll on the environment, and in many cases, the resources necessary to produce the products exceed anything it may give back over the products expected lifespan.
Energy efficiency is generally focused from a user point of view only.
FORTHRIGHT has put together a list of home improvements, in order of the most cost-effective, to reduce energy consumption and the overall running costs of a home, these are:
1. Start With Basics
It is best to start with simple things like:
- Removing vents to outside that are no longer required to reduce drafts.
- Installing draft excluders to outside doors.
- Not leaving windows open with the heating on, or when it is cool.
- Setting thermostats on the heating systems appropriately.
- Not leaving the heating on when it is not required.
- Closing doors to rooms that are not in use.
- Changing regular bulbs for LED/energy efficient bulbs.
Do not underestimate how quickly small factors, like those above, can add up to produce a significant saving!
2. Insulation & Draft Proofing
If you were to pour boiling hot water into a regular teacup, the water will cool more quickly than in you did the same into a sealed and insulated flask. Your home is no different, the more you can do to reduce heat loss in a property the more money you will save. A well-insulated house with an older, less efficient boiler will have lower energy bills compared to an equal sized poorly insulated house with a modern, efficient boiler when approached sensibly.
There are many free or heavily subsidised schemes for insulation, and often it is possible to get lofts and cavity walls insulated for little to nothing! With home insulation, it is how far it is taken. The more invested, the better the results. Start with loft spaces, walls and floors. Quality insulation boards, like Celotex in 50mm and upwards, will make considerable improvements to heat retention within a space when applied correctly.
An uninsulated solid brick wall with a thickness of 225mm will have a U-value of 2.20 W/m2k, where a 100mm of Celotex insulation board can reduce this down to 0.2Wm2k, which is a significant improvement in heat retention.
Insulation is long-lasting and requires no maintenance, so long as it is installed correctly from the offset, homes will have a lasting benefit that will save the owner significant amounts of money quickly.
3. Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV’s)
These are fantastic value for money! A home with correctly set TRV’s can benefit hugely, and the payback time is often quick. The hotter something is, in this instance, a home, the quicker it loses heat (laws of thermal loss). By ensuring that the temperature of rooms is controllable to a sufficient temperature, thermal losses are reduced, and fuel savings are made. A difference of just 1DegC can make a significant impact on an energy bill.
When used correctly, TRV’s will often pay for themselves in under two years. If the right brand is selected, the water within the central heating system is clean and kept clean, and TRV’s are installed correctly, they could last as long as 15-20 years with no maintenance.
More information on TRV’s and how they work can be found by clicking here.
4. Windows & Outer Doors
Windows are often the most significant loss of heat within in a property per meter that they cover. Old single glazed windows have a u-value of around 5W/m2k, old double glazing is around 3W/m2k, modern double glazing is around 1.6W/m2k, and triple glazing can get u-values down to around 0.8W/m2k.
Window replacements are not the cheapest solution. However, the average house can have modern double glazing for a similar price of a correctly undertaken replacement boiler. As windows are usually long-lasting, the return would be a more long-term investment. Even where glazing units fail, they can usually be replaced easily, and the frames could go on to last very long periods.
Having new double or tipple glazing and better insulated outer doors will pay for itself in the long run so long as heat is not allowed to escape on a regular basis by windows being left open etc. As windows often need little to no maintenance, they are a practical way to reduce energy bills.
5. More Efficient Hot Water
Hot water on average accounts for around 60% of the total energy consumption in a UK based property. By insulating hot water pipes along their lengths and replacing (if applicable) old foam/ non-insulated cylinders with newly insulated cylinders, you can make an impact on your energy bills.
Having a cylinder changed is not the cheapest option available. However, the savings can be huge! An uninsulated 170L copper cylinder will lose around 24kW of heat a day, and older foam lagged cylinders will lose around 3-5kW of heat a day, whereas a modern insulated cylinder, such as a Megaflo, of the same size will lose as little as 1.4kW a day!
By also reducing the amount of hot water used when washing and cleaning it will reduce how much energy is used as less water will require heating. Simple things, like taps that restrict the volume of water used, and fitting flow restrictors to showers can have a significant impact on reducing energy bills.
6. More Efficient Heating Systems
Please pay attention to how we state HEATING SYSTEMS, not boilers!
Modern condensing gas boilers are more efficient when the return temperatures to the boiler are 55 DegC or lower. The reason for this is they extract the temperature from the moisture and gasses that would usually get lost through a boiler’s flue. New boilers running at higher temperatures are often more efficient than older boilers running at the same temperatures.
However, the difference may not be as much as people would expect, and certainly not enough to make a return on the investment.
To get the most of out the condensing effect of a condensing boiler, the return temperatures need to be lower. The problem is that as heat is reduced to a radiator, the heat output of the radiator reduces. Therefore, if the required output of the radiators reduces beyond the required output for the room, it will require larger radiators to heat the room sufficiently.
Where radiators are undersized for the lower, more efficient working temperatures, then they fail to heat the rooms up sufficiently resulting in the necessity to increase the boilers operational temperature which will increase the energy consumption.
We specialise in the installation of highly efficient and reliable central heating systems in Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Cheltenham and the areas around.
7. Other factors people rarely consider are:
The new Boiler Plus regulations require additional energy saving measures with all new boiler installations. For more information about this, click here!