The cost of energy - your supplier.
It might seem obvious but you have to start with your energy supplier and the cost of energy. There are a number of comparison-based sites that will give you a good idea as to what the current best deal is but these do change daily and you have to shop around to find the best deal.
Your current boiler compared with a new boiler
An old boiler doesn’t have to look like this to be energy inefficient.
The energy efficiency of your boiler is a good place to start with saving energy as this is the energy user.
Modern boilers can reach over 90% efficiency and if you have an old boiler this can be 55% or less (even when new) and will certainly be less efficient now due to “firing-up” internally of the heat exchanger.
You can find out how energy efficient your current boiler is at
For example, if your old boiler is only 50% efficient compared to a new boiler at say 90% the energy saving would be 40%.
For a typical three bedrooms house having an annual gas output of 17,400Kwh the average cost of this gas is £1,002*. Using this amount of gas, the saving would be £400. So, a saving worth having!
For a typical small house/flat (One or two bedrooms) having an annual gas output of 8,000kWh the average annual cost of this gas is £520*. Using this amount of gas, the saving would be £208.
For a typical large house (four bedrooms or more) having an annual gas output of 22,600kWh the average annual cost of this gas is £1268*. Using this amount of gas, the saving would be £507.
*Gas cost based on 4.88p/kWh plus £0.30p per day standing charge and VAT at 5%
Find out where you need more insulation
It might seem obvious but ensuring your home is well insulated is a good starting point and to establish exactly where heat is being lost you can use a clever device called a Portable Thermal Infrared Imager. This is just like a camera but instead of taking a picture it takes a “thermal picture” to see where heat is lost (See the picture below).
In this picture the most heat being lost is through the areas shown yellow and red i.e. the windows and walls. The areas that are well insulated are shown blue in this example.
Compare the image with the house next door that is well insulated and you can immediately see the difference.
Even windows can be improved by fitting low-e glass.
Portable Thermal Infrared Imager
These clever devices can be bought from as little as £100 or hired from some hire shops and can be a real eye opener as to where you are wasting heat and give you a chance to make the most cost-effective improvements.
Consider installing a multifuel boiler or Heat pump
Modern Multi-Fuel boilers don’t have to look old fashioned and can contain a back boiler so can provide you with hot water too.
These clever units can use a range of fuels depending on your choice of unit e.g. wood pellets, logs or anything that burns and does not contain chemicals or plastic. You should discuss your requirements with the supplier and what the unit will burn.
You will have to have a suitable flue and check whether you are in a smokeless fuel area as these can give off a lot of smoke depending on what you are burning.
Excess heat can be stored in a thermal store (basically a big tank where heat is stored) and provide you with hot water and heating even when it is off.
Get free heat from the air by using a Heat Pump:
A Heat pump is basically a fridge in reverse often also referred to as an air-conditioning unit.
Such units can be very efficient at taking external heat sources and multiplying the energy. Typically, 1kW of electricity can be used to draw 2kW of heat from outside and give you 3kW of heat internally
Further advice can be found at http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/renewable-energy/heat/air-source-heat-pumps
Soak up free heat from the sun
Getting free heat from the sun can be an easy and cheap way to heat your house.
If you have any windows on the south or south-west you can get free heat from the sun by fitting matt black blinds.
Matt black absorbs the sun’s radiation and this can in-turn heat your house by absorbing up to 95% of the radiation heat from the sun. One square metre can catch about 950W and with a window area of 2.25m2 that would provide 2137W.
This heat can then be sucked out of the room by a heat exchanger and used to heat your hot water, what could be simpler? Even during the winter some sun can help heat the room.
Matt black blinds can be easily bought on-line and can be rolled up when not needed.
Get free electricity from a wind turbine
Your house does not have to look like a windmill to benefit from wind power.
There are a number of designs and prices to suit all needs and these can generate power to heat water as well as provide electricity.
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Good luck from Moving and Improving
If you want even more ways to save or make money when it comes to your home check out some of our other posts. Here's one to get you started "Discover how a survey can make you money on your next home".