Energy Saving Advice

If you are having trouble paying your fuel bills this winter:

  • try the Energy Saving Trust on 0300 123 1234 or go to the Energy Savings Trust
  • or Birmingham City Council
  • or Warmzones


  • NEA Warm Homes Campaign

    The Warm Homes Campaign is NEA’s annual winter initiative, focusing on the need for people to be able to stay warm in their homes. The campaign raises awareness amongst both politicians and members of the public of the problem of fuel poverty and the action needed to be taken at a policy level; as well as the help and support available locally for those struggling to heat their homes. It also highlights key messages around gas and electricity safety in the home. The campaign itself takes place from Monday 22 November 2017 up to Fuel Poverty Awareness Day on Friday 23 February 2018.

  • Moseley Community Development Trust has received a grant from NEA and is supporting the campagn.


  • Around 4 million UK households are in fuel poverty, unable to afford to live in a warm, dry home. National Energy Actionis the national charity working to end fuel poverty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. NEA provides useful advice and information such as the NEA home energy checklist.


    A guide to saving energy and money at home

    The following advice and guidance is a summary to help you quickly find out what you need to know about saving energy at home. You will find information about:


    1. Your home - the building

    Age and type of property


    Older buildings usually have solid walls and older style windows, whereas newer builds have cavity walls and modern window frames. Heating systems range from coal fires and stand-alone heaters to centralised systems with sophisticated controllers. Heating requirements can vary from elderly and families needing heating 24 hours a day, to young professionals who only use it early morning and late evening. Aspects like these, all influence the potential and cost of energy improvements.

    Homes which are not energy efficient can be

    • expensive to run
    • less comfortable than they could be
    • a contributor to poor health

    These are just some of the factors to consider when thinking about home energy.

    On the positive side, energy efficient homes

    • cost less to run,
    • are more comfortable (cooler in Summer, warmer in Winter) ,
    • support well-being.
    • are more attractive to potential buyers.

    With fuel prices increasing steadily, a small outlay now could save thousands of pounds over the coming years, and, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to have the work done for free.

    Insulation


    Insulating your home is the most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and your bills. Many of the houses in Moseley are Edwardian, and while they look fantastic they can let out a lot of heat if not insulated property. This diagram shows how much energy can be wasted;

    Sealing your home from all sides means you keep as much of the heat in the house as possible. Although, it is important to remember that homes do need ventilation to avoid getting damp. The various sorts of insulation techniques are listed below;


    • Loft
    The recommended level of loft insulation is 270mm. It is fairly easy to install yourself and as 25% of heat loss in the home comes from the roof it is an important first step with energy saving.


    • Loft insulation if you have had a conversion?
    We would recommend that you seek specialist advice in this situation.

    • Cavity wall insulation
    For many of the old houses in Moseley (usually pre 1920’s) this is not an option as they are solid walls. The cavity is the small gap between two layers of brick. Insulation in this area involves filling the cavity. This can save as much as £250 a year and 1000kg CO2. There are various avenues for financial assistance (see the financial assistance section for further information).

    • Solid wall insulation
    Most houses built pre 1920 will be solid wall. There are two options for insulation in this case.

    External cladding
    Adding an external layer of insulation. This does not always alter the appearance of the outside of your house.

    Secondary glazing
    Double glazing can be costly, and for people living in houses with wooden decorative windows, the cheaper plastic windows may ruin the aesthetics of the house. An alternative is secondary glazing which can be done inside the house with no effect to the outside view. Go to the bottom of the page to download the DIY manual.

    For further information about insulation go to here.

    • Draft Proofing
    For many people around Moseley, draught proofing could save an awful lot of money. The majority of the housing stock around Moseley is Edwardian, which means wooden windows and doors. Wood can become warped over time resulting in gaps which let out the heat. Draught proofing is a simple and cost effective way of sealing up these gaps to maximise energy efficiency. It is also useful for sealing draughts between floorboards, skirting boards and behind bath panels – very effective for keeping warm. Here.

    Hot water and central heating

    Updating your boiler and heating system can significantly reduce energy bills, and depending on your circumstances, the work could be done for free.

    Other, smaller insulation measures

    Other, measures can make a big difference if done together. Here are some suggestions below;
    Loft hatch - Insulate the back of the loft hatch with a securely fastened piece of insulation material -this will reduce the amount of heat escaping
    Letter box - get a draught excluding letter box to reduce waste
    Insulation foam - Spray insulation foam around areas where pipes enter your home to stop draughts – but make sure you don't block vents and wear a mask while you spray
    Carpet underlay - Always use underlay with carpets to stop heat escaping through floors
    Lined curtains - This will keep valuable heat in. Thermal lining is particularly effective. Closing them as soon as it becomes dark maximises their effectiveness.
    Make a ‘sausage dog’ – use rolled up blankets or sausage shaped cushions to keep out draughts from your window sills and doors – very good for keeping warm
    Get a keyhole cover – this will help keep out draughts

    2. Your behaviour

    There are a lot of ways to save energy, here are our top ten tips to get you started;

    1. Turn your thermostat down, reducing your room temperature by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10 percent and typically saves around £50 per year.
    2. Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows
    3. Use energy saving lightbulbs, they last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs, and using one can save you around £75 over the lifetime of the bulb.
    4. Look for ‘A’ ratings when you need to buy a new appliance – most modern appliances have an ‘A’ rating when they are energy efficient
    5. Defrost your freezer regularly if it does not do it automatically. Letting more than 6mm or ¼ of an inch of ice build up, makes your freezer work inefficiently
    6. Shower instead of taking a bath, baths use up to three times as much hot water as non - power showers
    7. Only boil the amount of water you need when cooking, this will use less electricity.
    8. Don't leave your heating on all day if you're not there, it's a myth that it's cheaper to do this than having it on just when you need it
    9. Don’t waste water install a water ‘hippo’ into your toilet cistern and a shower save to restrict the flow, these can be found for free online
    10. Try and dry your clothes outside, avoid over drying your clothes in the tumble dryer; it wastes money and makes them harder to iron. Don’t dry clothes on the radiator; it makes your boiler work harder

    Tariffs and switching supplier

    Any action to reduce household fuel bills will have a beneficial effect on fuel poverty. In the competitive market, savings can often be made by switching to another electricity and/or gas supplier.
    Suppliers must give accurate advice to enquirers about savings they offer although they will need information about the household’s energy consumption. Customers should ask about both gas and electricity (savings on one fuel may be outweighed by charges on another) and about total bills (the advantage of no standing charge may be outweighed by higher unit prices).
    This should be a relatively easy process but some people may find it confusing. The key to making switching easier is gaining access to good quality, independent information. Here are some links to comparison websites where you simply enter your information and they do the hard work for you;
    Money Saving Expert
    Money Supermarket
    U Switch

    Each energy company will have their own tariffs and savings, but for the most part it is better to be signed up to direct debit, or pay your bills on time and to manage your account online.

    Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (OFGEM) 0800 887777

    9 Millbank, London, SW1P 3GE Website: www.ofgem.gov.uk

    Understanding bills and meters

    Energy bills can be confusing, but understanding your bills is an important part of saving energy.
    First things first, your bills should always be based on actual readings (usually displayed as an A next to the reading) rather than estimates (displayed as an E). EDF provide a good information sheet, clickhere .

    Your meter will be read occasionally by your supplier but you can phone up with a reading, or enter it online. To get accurate energy bills it is recommended that you read your meter once a month. For more information seeWhich or EDF .

    • Meters

    Your electricity and gas meters could be located inside or outside your home. Your energy provider should have information as to where they are. Each meter has a meter serial number which identifies the meter and which property it relates to, this can be found on the meter and on your bill. Alternatively you can contact your Meter Point Administration Service, for the midlands the phone number is 0845 6030618, they can also tell you who supplies your home.

    Appliances



    Appliance usage. Learning how to use your appliances in the most efficient way can save you a lot of money. Below are some simple tips;

    Washing machine

    -Switch to cold washing - 85 to 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes is used to heat the water. By turning the dial to cold on your washing machine, you save energy
    -If you don’t have a full load of washing, use the half load setting as it will save water and electricity
    -Descale your washing machine – it will keep it working efficiently
    -Use economy settings if your washing machine has them, as they are cheaper to run on these settings

    Tumbledryer


    -Try and dry your clothes outside – this will save you energy and money compared to using your tumble dryer
    -Wring clothes by hand or spin them in your washing machine before you put them in the tumble dryer (if you have to use it) this will shorten the drying time.
    -Avoid over drying your clothes in the tumble dryer – it wastes money and makes them harder to iron

    Dishwasher

    - Don't run your dishwasher unless it's full, to avoid wasting energy and to save money.
    - Use economy settings if your dishwasher has them, it is cheaper and more energy efficient

    Fridge and Freezer

    - Keep the back of your fridge and freezer clean as it will help keep it running efficiently
    - Buy the right size fridge or freezer for your home - this could save you money on electricity costs
    - Don’t overfill your fridge – cold air needs to circulate as it works harder to do this, when it’s full. Bad circulation could increase its electricity consumption by up to 10%
    - Try to keep your freezer at least three quarters full – the less empty space inside, the more efficiently your freezer can work
    - Make sure the door fits tightly on your fridge or freezer and that the rubber is not worn. If not, your appliance will work harder and cost you more to run
    - Keep fridges and freezers away from cookers, heaters and direct sunlight
    - Defrost your freezer regularly if it does not do it automatically. Letting more than 6mm or ¼ of an inch of ice build up, makes your freezer work inefficiently
    - Buy a fridge thermometer if your fridge does not already have one, and set it to the optimum temperature of 0˚C - 5˚C.
    - Let hot food cool before putting it in the fridge - otherwise the temperature will rise inside putting other food at risk and making your fridge work harder
    - Replace an inefficient fridge-freezer with an ‘A’ rated model – it could save you up to £39 (approx) a year on your energy bill
    - Don't leave the fridge door open any longer than necessary, as it allows the cold air to escape

    Boiler

    If your boiler is between 10–15 years old it might very well be worth replacing it with a new energy efficient one, they are available from about £299, but can also cost up to £2000 or more, so have a good look around to ensure you aren’t paying too much for your new boiler. A new energy efficient boiler could help you save up to £300 a year on your electricity bill! Download the document at the bottom of the page if you are considering buying a new boiler.


    3. Gadgets

    • Smart meters



    In the future, every home in Birmingham will have smart meters by 2020 . They will be fitted for free by your gas/electric supplier and make it easier for you and the companies to read the meters. There is a monitor which can be plugged in anywhere in the home, which shows your real time consumption and the price. For more information click here .

    The positives with smart meters is that you can closely monitor your electricity and gas usage, isolate appliances that are especially expensive to run, read your meter whenever you want so your bills are accurate,

    • Pre-payment meters
    Pre-payment meters are either installed by request of the household to help manage bills, or installed by the energy company when bills are not paid. You get a card which can be topped up with credit at a variety of places (such as corner shops, supermarkets, online).

    The positives are that in some cases it is easier for people to manage their money in this way, for example students or people with irregular work. It is a deterrent when using energy, there is nothing more likely to get you to turn the heating down than the thought of going out into the cold to top your card up!

    The negatives are that pre-payment meters can often result in higher charges. They are inconvenient, you have to go and top the cards up which can be inconvenient.

    • Appliance Rating
    All appliances are rated in terms of their energy efficiency, the best is A. For further information see Home Appliances UK
    or Energy Saving Advice
    • Radiator panels - These are stuck behind radiators on external walls to reflect the heat back into the home. A lot of heat is lost heating cold external walls.
    • Powerdown plugs - Usually for TV units, where a lot of things are plugged in, you can turn them all off with your main TV remote, and turn them all on again the same way. There are also PC and laptop powerdown plugs available.
    • Pipe lagging - Insulate pipes inside the home with this, it reduces condensation and wasted heat.
    • Cylinder jackets - Insulation for your water tank.

    All of the major energy suppliers offer these gadgets, along with high street retailers.


    4. Financial Help

    Fuel poverty is growing, and energy bills are rising. There are many avenues you can go down for financial assistance, all dependent on your situation.

    Health Through Warmth, Npower

    Npower works in partnership with local services to provide energy advice by training up representatives. For more information click here .

    Birmingham City Council

    offer assistance including free energy surveys, advice and some home works for council homeowners click here for more information.

    Help for the elderly

    Age UK helpline 0800 055 6112


    5. Useful links and contacts

    Further advice
    Energy Savings Trust
    Northfield Ecocentre
    Citizens Advice


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