Energy efficiency is all very well, but the bottom line is – what about the savings? However well intentioned we may be about the environment and reducing our carbon footprint, let’s face it, there are few things guaranteed to motivate us more than seeing those bills starting to shrink.
So putting all thoughts of the hype, the eco-friendly and good-for-you greening aside, what are the real cost savings we can honestly expect to see if we start being a little more energy efficient?
Changing Your Appliances
Everyone knows that modern appliances offer levels of energy efficiency that were unheard of, even only a few years ago, but if we exchange our aging equipment for to up-to-date versions, are we going to start seeing some savings?
Trade up to A+ or A++ fridge freezers, for example, and you could as much as £34 a year better off, while the atmosphere benefits by avoiding around 140kg of carbon dioxide. A similar specification chest or upright freezer will add another £20 to your pocket – and save the planet 85kg of CO2, while a stand-alone fridge comes in at £12 and 48kg. Buy a new A-class washing machine or dishwasher and the potential savings are £10 and £20 – with a carbon avoidance of 45kg and 90kg respectively.
The Importance of Insulation
With losses from walls and lofts accounting for around half of the heat lost from a typical home according to the Energy Saving Trust, making sure your insulation is up to scratch can bring significant savings.
Adding cavity wall insulation, for instance, with a typical installation cost of around £500 and an annual saving of £120, in about 4 years, it will have paid for itself – and thereafter the savings go straight to reducing household bills. For the environment, this would represent a CO2 avoidance of around 800kg a year.
Installing 270mm of insulation in a previously un-insulated loft could mean up to £155 in savings, while bringing an existing 50mm of insulation up to the recommended 270mm should lower yearly heating bills by around £45.
Insulating your water tank and pipes – one of the cheapest and easiest energy efficiency measures – can also yield worthwhile savings. Adding a 75mm jacket to your hot water tank, at a cost of around £20, and the savings will amount to £20 or £30 per year – offering an incredibly fast payback for your investment.
In addition to paying for itself within a year, it will also reduce your annual carbon footprint by 195kg of CO2 – and while you’re at it, turn the thermostat down to around 60 degrees C and you’ll save another £10 a year.
Giving the average home’s hot water pipes the insulation treatment too will only cost around £10 at the DIY store, but will cut household bills by the same amount every year and slice 65kg off your CO2 emissions.
The Tried and Trusted Approach
Some energy-saving tips seem to appear in just about everything written on the subject, but does changing your bulbs, turning down the heating and switching everything off at the wall really make a difference?
Changing any light bulb that gets used for more than an average of 4 hours a day to a low energy version – at a cost of around £5 – should give an annual saving of £10 a bulb, and with a lifespan of up to 8 years, that can soon add up to a lot of money.
That other old favourite – turning your thermostat down by just one degree C – can save you around £30 a year. When it comes to stand-by, the average household wastes up to £65 a year on the normal run of appliances languishing in sleep mode and contributes over 280kg of CO2 unnecessarily.
In the end, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that cost savings are cumulative; although the contribution of each individual step may seem almost insignificant, added together their overall effect can be quite surprising – and that means significant cost savings. All in all, it looks like all those tips were right!