Advice

Bring down bills by tackling energy efficiency

As the cost of energy rises, more and more homeowners are considering carrying out home improvement projects that will make their house more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

There are many options available for those who are looking to lower their gas and electricity bills, ranging from simple steps such as fitting insulation and draught excluding any gaps around windows or doors to big changes like installing a new heating system. Large-scale changes like this often require substantial financial outlay, but can be worth it in the long term, especially if the current boiler and radiators are old and inefficient.

A raft of targets and regulations have been introduced by the government in a bid to encourage energy efficiency – including the aim of bringing down domestic carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 – and UK country manager for Panasonic Marc Diaz explained the government’s proactive stance has “created the opportunity for new advances in technologies”.

“Efficient heating has played a key role in helping public sector developers comply with the government’s Decent Homes Standard and will continue to do so in the future,” he explained, adding the issue of fuel poverty – where households are spending more than ten per cent of their income on gas and electricity bills – has spurred on housing developers to provide solutions that are both “eco-conscious and cost-reducing”.

Many businesses have been developing new heating systems that require less electricity to run and Mr Diaz explained Panasonic has used heat pump technology to develop a range of heating systems that can produce as much as 4.7kW of usable heat and hot water for every kW of electricity drawn by the unit. “Truly green heating systems like this are much more flexible and cost-effective than a traditional fossil fuel boiler,” he explained, describing the air-to-water heat pumps as “revolutionary”.

There are numerous methods on offer for bringing down gas and electricity usage, but lowering water bills can be more difficult. There are some quick fixes, such as fitting a water-saving shower head and checking pipework for leaks, but tackling high water usage can involve slightly more work if the minor changes do not have the desired effect.

Bathroom fixtures and fittings can be very water-inefficient – especially if they were installed many years ago – and marketing communications manager at plumbing specialist Geberit Sara Johnston explained fitting water-saving products can be a “wise investment”.

She stated a dual-flush toilet can result in “significant” water savings, as the majority of water wastage comes from unnecessary flushing. “Wall-hung sanitaryware makes incorporating a dual-flush cistern into the overall design of the bathroom a simple process,” she said, adding there is no need to make a “huge” investment to bring down water usage, as making a “few adaptations” will result in a noticeable difference.

As well as lowering water bills for the household, an efficient bathroom will also make the property more attractive when the time comes to sell up and move on. Ms Johnston observed buyers are becoming “increasingly eco-conscious” and looking for properties that have energy efficient fixtures and fittings, so investing in a water-saving bathroom could pay off in both the short and long term.

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