Improve the energy efficiency of your home in three easy steps

The majority of homeowners are interested in saving money on their household bills and are regularly searching to get the best deal on their electricity, gas or oil costs but how can we improve the energy efficiency of our homes and therefore save our hard-earned money?

Firstly, the insulation of the property needs to be checked as this is probably the most effective way to save energy. Heat is lost through the ceilings and walls of the house and so adequate loft insulation and cavity wall insulation is certainly worthwhile especially if your property is older and has not been built with wall insulation as standard.

Secondly, do the windows and doors at the property let heat escape too easily? If this is the case then a survey on their efficiency is a good idea. Double or even triple glazing can save the homeowner money and at the same time reduce any troublesome road noise.

Lastly, if the property has a gas boiler installed it is important to check whether it is of the type that only heats the water that you need as this is far better than heating a tank of water that you may not use. These combi boilers are much more efficient and remove the need for a large hot water cylinder.

Save money by upgrading windows and doors

Many people are looking at ways to reduce the energy costs for their property a simple first step is to replace old doors and windows with new double or even triple glazed units. It is a fact that the amount of heat that is lost through poorly fitting windows and doors is huge and so this often straight forward improvement can save the householder a considerable amount of money over the course of a few years.

Some householders are anxious about the need to gain planning permission but in most cases there is no need to apply for any planning permission for this work as long as it is carried out by a competent person under the FENSA scheme. This scheme gives the homeowner the reassurance that the work is completed to a good standard and that the company carrying out the work is a reputable one.

When planning to do these improvements, it is sensible to get three quotes for the work as the price can vary between different companies. The cost of changing the windows and doors in a property can be pricey initially but can be seen as an investment in the long term as money will be saved on heating bills. Many companies have finance schemes in place so that the cost can be spread over a few months making it more affordable to customers.

Heat pumps are the latest innovation in eco-friendly heating

As any eco conscious householder is probably aware home heating accounts for 14% of all the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions with the majority of that coming from gas boilers. A simple thing such as turning up the thermostat causes an increase in energy usage and means that more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Some of the heat that is produced escapes the home and is actually wasted, as many homes in the UK do not meet energy efficiency standards and improving the sustainability of the UK’s housing stock is one of the challenges the government faces in its bid to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2050. Heat pumps are being recognised as one solution to this problem and the UK government has announced its aim to install a high number of heat pumps in the next eight years.

There are two types of heat pumps that can be used for heating. One extracts heat from the air, known as an air source heat pump. These pumps are the most commonly installed type and look like an air conditioning unit fitted on the outside of your home. There are also ground source heat pumps that extract heat from the ground. Both types of pump basically transfer heat from one place to another by using a liquid refrigerant and a compressor in a process that is electrically powered. As it is powered by electricity, the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted by a heat pump depends on how that electricity is generated but fortunately, the UK’s national grid is becoming increasingly green as more solar, and wind powered electricity is being utilised.

The performance of heat pumps and how much electricity they use depends on the heating system in the property as heat pumps are a lot more efficient when they run in combination with systems like underfloor heating or large, especially designed oversized radiators that produce enough heat to warm the space without needing to run at high temperatures. If a heat pump is installed to replace a gas boiler, the heat pump will not work at optimum efficiency with the existing radiators, so you may need to change your radiators. For households that are not connected to mains gas, heat pumps are however an excellent solution, much better than an oil boiler, which produces high carbon dioxide emissions.

So, although heat pumps are an important part of any energy efficient review they are not a one-size-fits-all solution, and each household must be considered individually.

What to Look for in a Trade Plumbing Supplier

Busy plumbers rely on trade plumbing suppliers as a central part of their everyday jobs. Much of what a plumber does involves specialist equipment, lots of parts, tools and products, so access to these is a necessity. A plumber might end up visiting a trade plumbing supplier more than once a day if they need certain tools for a particular job, so finding a reliable one with plenty to offer is important.

These are some of the most important aspects to look for in a trade plumbing supplier:

  • A wide range of quality products and supplies. If you know there are certain brands you choose to use, or if you need particular specialist equipment, make sure a plumbing supplier can offer these. Many suppliers offer a wide range of fixtures, fittings, tools, suites and sanitaryware – make sure they are the right options for you in your line of work.
  • Good opening hours. You may need to visit plumbing suppliers’ premises multiple times to complete any one job if it is a complex project. Make sure you can get the equipment you need, when you need it.
  • Good vale for money. Trade suppliers are not open to the general public, so there should be some kind of incentive for trade customers to shop with them. There should be opportunities for you to get better prices for being in the plumbing trade, especially if you are a regular customer or you are buying in bulk. Some plumbing merchants require membership, which will guarantee you better prices when you choose to shop there.
  • Knowledgeable staff. You will need to be able to find the items required at short notice in many cases – knowledgeable staff who understand the plumbing trade and who can point you in the right direction will be invaluable when buying plumbing supplies.

Is it time to change your boiler?

If your boiler is older than twelve years old then it is sensible to consider changing it for a more modern one as boiler technology is improving and boilers are becoming more efficient ultimately saving the householder money on their energy bills.

A free energy survey can be carried out by a company specialising in boiler replacement to see if it would be advisable to upgrade the boiler in your home and whether there are other improvements that could be made to your heating and hot water system. If the results of the survey show that savings could be made on your energy bills by changing the boiler many people choose to have a combi boiler installed. This type of boiler heats up the hot water that you need instantly and there is no requirement to have a water cylinder to store hot water. It is an energy efficient way to heat the home and provide hot water whenever it is required. With this type of boiler there is also no need to have a water tank in the loft which frees up storage space.

Replacing a boiler can mean some upheaval in the home but if done at the same time as other home improvements it should not be too disruptive.