Energy Saving Advice
If you are having trouble paying your fuel bills this winter:
STAY WARM STAY WELL
Moseley Community Development Trust is working with partners in the voluntary sector and Birmingham City Council to help residents save energy, money and stay well this winter. The extra help ‘Stay Warm Stay Well’ will offer this year includes:
• Making sure eligible households receive support from Birmingham Energy Savers to physically improve cold homes;
• Targeting more help at families with young children;
• Providing cold weather crisis provision for homeless rough sleepers, and
• Targeting more help for those with a health risk.
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.
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;
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.
The good news is that Birmingham City Council are committed to reducing the cities carbon by 60% by 2026 so they are encouraging this. Visit the Birmingham Energy Savers Birmingham Energy Savers website for further information.
• 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 £110 a year and 560kg 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.
Adding an internal layer of insulation. This does not alter the appearance of the outside of your house.
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 is a fact sheet from the Energy Savings Trust with some simple tips for DIY draught proofing.
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
Chimney balloons - these block the air lost through the chimney. Download the document at the bottom of the page.
A growing industry with a wide variety of innovative technologies to chose from. Although expensive, there are several government and private run schemes to make them more cost effective such as the feed-in tariff.
• Photo Voltaic Solar Panels
These are panels which are installed on south facing roofs which provide electricity to the home by converting sunlight into energy. They do not need bright sunlight to work, so are suitable even in England!
Any surplus energy can be sold back to the grid throughFeed-in tariffs Birmingham Energy Savers are currently trailing a scheme where they install PV on homes, at the moment it is only council owned buildings but phase 3 will include privately owned accommodation.
For more information from the energy savings trust click here .
• Heat Pumps - ground source or air source heat pump
There are two types of heat pumps; ground source where the heat is extracted using pipes drilled into the ground, and air source where the heat is extracted from the air or water. Heat can be extracted from the air when temperatures are as low as -15 degrees Celsius. This technology is becoming increasingly financially viable with the Renewable Heat Incentive . For regular updates from the Department of Energy and Climate Change click here .
• Solar water heating
Panels are installed on your roof, which use the heat from the sun to heat your water. A combination boiler or immersion heater is then used to increase the temperature.
For more information from the Energy Savings Trust click here .
• For more detailed information on other measures to generate energy please refer to the Energy Savings Trust page . Energy Savings Trust offer a comprehensive list of approved contractors.
The Green Deal
The government has a target to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050. In order to do this, they are making it easier to install energy generating measures. The Green Deal enables you to install energy generating measures and pay for them through the savings in your energy bills, therefore getting rid of the high up-front cost. ‘The Golden Rule’ means that the repayments should never be more than the bill you would have paid. The debt stays with the home and not the individual. British Gas have announced they will go early with the scheme.
The full government document is availablehere .
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 £45 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
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 .
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.
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;
-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
-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
- 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
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 £1,500 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 £275 a year on your electricity bill! Download the document at the bottom of the page if you are considering buying a new boiler.
Imeasure is a simple but effective way of measuring your energy usage. It simply requires you to enter your meter readings each week (although if you miss a week here and there it will calculate from your average readings) and gives you details of your carbon footprint, tips and illustrative graphs. If you are a Moseley resident you can join the Moseley Carbon Club set up by local energy campaigners SusMo to compare and compete with them!
Go to www.imeasure.org.uk/
Register your details
Input your gas and electricity meter readings
Go to www.imeasure.org.uk/
Register your details. Input your gas and electricity meter readings
• 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.
• Ecokettles - These kettles have two chambers, you fill the main chamber with water an then measure how much you would like to use each time you boil the kettle. They are mainly useful when one or two cups are made often, or the kettle is far from the sink.
• 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.
The Green Deal
Enables you to install energy generating measures and pay for them through the savings in your energy bills, therefore getting rid of the high up-front cost. ‘The Golden Rule’ means that the repayments should never be more than the bill you would have paid. The debt stays with the home and not the individual. British Gas have announced they will go early with the scheme. For more information click here .
Birmingham Energy Savers
In 2021 Birmingham Energy Savers will be the primary source for funding and assistance. At the moment they are mainly concentrating on Birmingham City Council houses but the scheme will be rolled out in the next couple of years. For more information click here .
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
The Energy Savings Trust
has compiled a comprehensive list of grants available, click here .
If you are wanting to install alternative technologies such as solar panels but are not convinced they are financially viable, then this is a good option for you. Feed-in tariffs are available from most energy suppliers, they will pay you for all the energy you generate but do not use, so you get free energy from the panels and an income from anything extra you generate.
Help for the elderly
Age UK together with e.on offers a special energy package tailored to meet the needs of older people. For those over 60 the package offers:
• a cold weather payment that gives the equivalent of two extra hours of gas fire use for every day below freezing between December and February
• free energy efficiency surveys
• free carbon monoxide detectors and early warning hypothermia thermometers
• a donation to Age UK for each year the customer is on the tariff
In addition to this they also offer advice about energy tariffs, click here .
Birmingham City Council offer services for the elderly including House Proud and Independent Living, further information can be found here .
5. Useful links and contacts
• SusMo (Sustainable Moseley) - you can get in touch with the group by emailing them firstname.lastname@example.org, visiting them on Facebook or twitter (Sus_Mo), or coming to a meeting which are listed on the Moseley Forumwebsite or the Moseley CDT .
Links to News Publications
There are various newspapers and publications to keep you updated out there, here are some links to just a few;
Birmingham Mail, lighter Footprints
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