Combatting the cost of living: how to reduce energy consumption
With energy prices on the rise, reducing household consumption has become a priority for many UK families. In this guide, Viessmann shares six top tips to cut bills.
Here in the UK, we’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Driven primarily by a surge in wholesale gas and oil prices combined with a stagnation in wages, everything from heating and powering our homes to buying weekly essentials has increased sharply in price over the past 12 months.
While there is little you can do to remedy the global factors contributing to the increase in living costs, there are changes we can make at home to help ease the financial strain. With this in mind, in this guide we’ve put together some handy tips to help cut energy consumption that you and your family can use in the home.
How to save on your energy bills in the home
There are two key factors to consider when you’re looking to save money on your domestic energy bills. The first is occupant behaviour. This relates to how you and your family use energy at home. Naturally, by promoting energy-saving behaviour, you can encourage small, positive changes that can add up to a noticeable reduction in energy usage.
The second factor is infrastructure and appliances. As the name suggests, this refers to all infrastructure and equipment in your home that either produces, uses or traps the energy you pay for. By ensuring your home is using insulation and the most energy efficient equipment instead of low-efficiency alternatives, significant savings can be found.
So, if you’re ready to start combatting the cost of living by reducing your household energy consumption, check out our top tips below.
Install a new boiler
The fact is old boilers tend to be less efficient than new boilers. This means they can cost more to run than new ones. Although the significant cost of upgrading your boiler may not bring about savings large enough to justify this major expense right now, it is always worth considering. This is certainly true if your current boiler is 15 years old or more. This is because, if this is the case, the boiler is likely to have an efficiency rating much lower than a modern equivalent.
Remember - central heating typically accounts for more than half of an average household’s energy bills. If your boiler has a low efficiency rating, you might be spending way more than you need to. So, if you can justify the initial outlay of a new boiler, now could be a good time to take the plunge. After all, if the cost of living crisis should deepen, the long-term savings a new efficient boiler could provide could be significant.
Invest in renewables
The installation of renewable technologies can also help to reduce household consumption. As with boiler upgrades, purchasing and installing equipment that makes use of green energy does require an initial investment. However, typically, renewables will make you less reliant on the grid. This means you could save a lot of money over the long term.
For example, you may want to consider fitting solar photovoltaic panels, solar thermal cells and fuel cell heating systems. These common domestic generators can produce clean electricity and hot water that can be used to power and heat your home. Generating your own green energy in this way not only helps to reduce your home’s carbon footprint, it can also shave money off your annual energy bills.
Heat pumps can also be a good option. Despite both air source and ground source heat pumps needing a small amount of electricity to function - meaning they are not carbon neutral - they are still considered a source of renewable energy and can help you save money. This is because these installations produce more useful heat than the amount of electricity they require to function.
Insulate your home
As well as installing new technologies, making small changes around the home to make your current central heating system work more efficiently is a great way to ultimately reduce consumption.
Installing wall, floor and loft insulation, for example, is a highly effective way of preventing heat loss. As is investing in double, or even triple, glazing for your home if your current windows are single glazed. You don’t need to break the bank to make your home better insulated. Simple window and door draught excluders can also be very effective. Indeed, in some cases, anywhere between 10%-30% of a home’s heat loss could be prevented through the use of this simple equipment.
Naturally, as some of these modifications are big jobs, they can be costly. However, by preventing as much heat as possible from escaping from your home, you’ll be able to keep it warm using less energy. This means you can save money and are therefore likely to start to see a return on your investment in the way of reduced bills over time.
Turn down the thermostat
The most simple tip of this list won’t even cost you a penny to try. By simply turning down your thermostat, you can massively reduce your home’s consumption without even noticing a difference. According to the Energy Saving Trust, ideal room temperature is between 18°C and 21°C. And contrary to common belief, turning your thermostat higher than you actually need it will not help your central heating system achieve your desired temperature any faster.
So try to be disciplined and keep your boiler set no higher than 21°C. This will not only help you reduce your carbon footprint, it will also save you some money. As a general rule of thumb, for every degree you turn your heating down, £80 a year could be saved.
Upgrade to efficient appliances
Just as with older boilers, older household appliances are quite simply not as energy efficient as newer alternatives. Although we don’t advise replacing all old appliances at once, investing in new, more efficient electronics as and when you need them is a great way to reduce energy consumption. From low-energy washing machines and dishwashers to eco TVs and refrigerators, luckily there are now plenty of efficient household appliances to choose from.
Just remember - if you are buying new appliances, always pay attention to the item’s energy efficiency rating. Every new appliance now comes with an EU energy label. These ratings give the item a score from A to G based on energy efficiency. G represents the least efficient items, while A signals highly efficient appliances. While A-grade items can be more expensive to purchase, the lower running costs of these appliances can save you energy and money in the long term.
Monitor your usage
Finally, even if you have already implemented all the changes discussed above, it’s important to monitor your energy usage going forward. Whether you do this manually by regularly checking your meters or you have a smart meter that does it for you, this is essential. Only by doing this can you keep an eye on how much energy you use and when you use it. This allows you to spot patterns and pinpoint what appliances are using the most power. Once you notice these patterns, you can make changes or experiment with alternatives to reduce your usage further.
For example, you may notice you are doing multiple clothes washes a week, when in fact one large load will do. You may also want to try washing at 30 degrees rather than 40 degrees, for instance. And perhaps hanging clothes out on the line to dry instead of using a tumble dryer might be a good option for you. In the same vein, you may spot that you and your family are taking long baths regularly, which could be swapped for short, more energy efficient showers. When it comes to reducing energy consumption, every little helps.
The prospect of living more sustainably to reduce your energy bills can be daunting. However, it’s important to remember that even the smallest of changes can be enough to get the ball rolling. Here at Viessmann, all of our products are designed to make your home as sustainable and energy efficient as possible. Whether you are looking for a new boiler or are interested in revolutionary heat pump technology, let us help you make the switch today.