As the nights get darker and winter draws closer, many of us will be thinking about heating our homes and how expensive that will prove over the coming few months. The cost of fuel is a worry for many and even those who can afford to keep their homes as warm as they like are sure to welcome the opportunity to find more efficient systems and to save energy at home.
The best methods to save money on heating bills and save energy at home are, as you may expect, the simplest and these vary from wearing more layers to making sure that any draughty windows or doors are mended before winter sets in. You should also take advantage of schemes to insulate your loft or wall cavities, which are funded by the energy suppliers. Calling a heating engineer in is a good idea, to give your boiler and heating systems the once-over and make sure that everything’s running safely and to optimum efficiency.
In the long term, the most savings can be had from investing in new technology, although this will mean forking out first. The simplest way to do this is to purchase a new energy-efficient boiler and have it fitted to your existing heating system. This can cost around £1,000 plus labour, but you’ll find that your investment will be repaid over the first few years of use. For example, a new boiler could save you around £340 each year in a semi-detached home when replacing an older model.
Utilising the technology now available that links your heating system to a smartphone will also help to cut down on the bills, with brands such as Hive and Nest offering thermostats that can be remotely controlled via your home wifi. This means you don’t have to rely on a timer that’s set to the same time each day, wasting energy when you are late home. It also means you can switch your heating on from bed, so the house warms up while you wait for the snooze alarm to go off. Why not switch the heating off from the office or check up to see if the kids have left it on after going to school? If you want to be cheeky you can check how high they have the thermostat when they get in, texting them to put a jumper on as you turn it down a notch! Both of the brand leaders cost around £249, but you can make the money back with the money you’re saving over a couple of years.
Changing your boiler and installing smartphone-enabled thermostats can help you save money, but burning less fuel is also environmentally-friendly. So it should come as no surprise that some green technologies will also help you to save fuel and money. These are strictly for those looking at new build homes or for those planning to stay put, but they can save you a vast amount over a decade or so.
Both ground-source and air-source heat pumps can increase the efficiency of warming your home and your water. These products run off of electricity but they use very little, capturing heat from the ground beneath your garden or in the air outdoors to incrementally warm radiators or water. Both systems will cost around £10,000 to install, with savings of around £500 each year. There is also, however, the Renewable Heat Incentive, which will reduce the cost of installation by up to £3,940.
A biomass burner will also save you money and attract a renewables incentive, with the stove and back boiler systems that burn wood and pellets or chips being low carbon and low cost options for heating your home and water. Prices can vary hugely, as the systems vary from wood-fed to those that automatically feed in wooden pellets, so that you don’t have to keep an eye on the system so much. Fully integrated systems cost from £10,000 for a basic system to £20,000 for an automated one. Savings can be as high as £1,000 per year over electricity, but the savings against gas are less impressive.
Always check with a reliable tradesperson (tradesman or tradeswoman) before signing up to any costly green energy scheme. You may not always recover any investment if you sell and you will need expert advice to determine exactly how much you can save. In many cases a good tradesperson will be able to suggest extra minor tweaks to save you cash and keep you warm until springtime!