In a typical UK household, more than half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water.
As fuel costs rise, having an efficient and cost effective heating system is vital, and it’s one of the main steps you can take to reducing your carbon dioxide emissions.
Central heating is the most common form of heating in the UK. A single boiler heats up water that is pumped through pipes to radiators throughout the house as well as providing hot water to the kitchen and bathroom taps.
Most boilers run on mains gas, but in areas where mains gas is not available, the boiler can run on oil, LPG (tank gas), coal or wood. Mains gas is usually the cheapest, and it has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions, apart from wood. Some boilers also have an electric immersion heater as a back-up.
Which is better for you will depend on different things:
Your hot water usage, large families using lots of hot water are likely to be better off with a regular boiler, whereas smaller households using less may be better off with a combi boiler.
Space in your home, combi boilers don’t need hot water cylinders, and therefore require less space in your home.
Compatibility with solar water heating, if you’re thinking of installing solar water heating, it’s worth noting that many combi boilers are not compatible with this heating system or cannot use it so effectively.
- Replace your boiler with a newer, more efficient model.
- Fit better controls and use them to make sure your boiler only provides heat where and when you want it.
- Switch to a cheaper or lower carbon fuel or technology. Find out about renewable technologies for generating electricity and heat.
- Make any insulation and draught-proofing improvements that you can.
- Use chemical inhibitors to help maintain central heating system efficiency.
If your home improvement work requires scaffolding, such as a loft conversion, this would be an ideal time to install solar panels. Scaffolding is a significant part of the solar installation costs, so combining it with other works could make them much more cost-effective. Solar panels are most effective on south-facing roofs at a pitch of around 30 degrees.
There are various other factors to consider when thinking about whether your home set up works and how best to maximise the installation. For more information on installing renewable energy system at home, see here .
Energy Saving Trust
Lighting accounts for 15 per cent of a typical household’s electricity bill. It’s good time to consider changing to LED bulbs.
LEDs are the most efficient light bulb on the market and have made significant advancements since their early days of low quality lighting. They are available with varying degrees of brightness, colours, and ‘colour temperatures’ – from warm white to cool white in appearance – and can suit almost all light fittings. Although the cost of bulbs is coming down, it can sometimes appear prohibitive, so consider the most used lights throughout your home as a first step.
Statistics from Energy Saving Trust
Make sure your extension is insulated to Building Regulations. You could Consider having the rest of your home to insulated as well. If your home has cavity walls, a layer of insulation can be blown into the cavity.
If you have solid walls (usually homes built before 1920), you can have either internal or external insulation added. Applying external insulation at the same time as your extension would ensure the exterior finish to the main building matches the extension, improving the aesthetic of your home.
External insulation will also make those cold rooms in your home warmer and, so long as sufficient ventilation is maintained, it can help alleviate many causes of damp and mould. Furthermore, solid wall insulation could save around £225 a year from the heating bills of a typical gas-fuelled semi-detached home. Savings could be significantly higher in detached properties, around £375 per year in a typical gas-fuelled detached home.
Statistics from Energy Saving Trust
Planning your new bathroom is a great time to think about being more efficient and reducing water usage throughout the home. There are many different types of shower head that aerate the water thereby reducing water usage without a negative impact on your shower experience. A water efficient shower head could save a four person household (e.g. a family of four or even a shared student flat) around £40 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £55 a year on water bills if using a water meter. You should also look for low-flush toilets – saving at least one litre of water per use.
If you’re adding extra heating to your bathroom, such as a towel rail or underfloor heating, make sure it is installed with easy to use, accessible controls, we’ll show you how to use heating controls so your being efficient as possible.