“I’ve done quite well out of not selling my house,” laughs Lynne Morrison. “To tell the truth, I was well annoyed when all this Energy Certificate stuff came in. I had to get one when I put my place on the market and I thought it was just another way to rip off sellers. In the end, though, I’m really glad I did!”
Lynne didn’t sell her house – the credit crunch put a dent in those plans – but sitting at home one night once she’d finally decided to take it off the market, she found herself idly flicking through the “suggested improvements” section and was struck by some of what was being said.
“I was like – ‘yeah, right’ – for some of the suggestions; I mean who’s going to spend £12,000 on solar power to save £150 a year? What planet are these people on? But then things like adding better insulation and so on, well, that seemed to make a lot more sense. I started thinking if that was good advice for my buyers, then why shouldn’t I do it for myself, since I was going to be staying here for a while?”
She started off simply, adding some lagging to her water pipes and a new jacket to her hot water tank. Obviously there weren’t any immediate results, but she explains that doing it put her in a much better frame of mind after the disappointment of not selling. “I felt I was doing something positive and getting back in control. From then on, there was no stopping me!”
It also helped that a flyer she picked up when she was buying her materials at the DIY store had made her an offer she simply couldn’t refuse – loft insulation on BOGOF! Knowing from the original energy audit that she stood to gain significantly by insulating her loft, it wasn’t long before she’d filled her garage with rolls of the stuff.
“My dad’s a dab hand at DIY, so while he and my boyfriend rummaged around in the roof, mum and me had a great time chatting and making pots of tea for the workers. Best of all, after the winter we’ve just had, I reckon I’m well on the way to getting the cost of it back in savings.”
Lynne had already changed most of her light bulbs before trying to sell, but when her local supermarket had a four-for-a-pound offer on low energy bulbs, never one to miss a bargain, she made sure she finished off the job and then bought a few more to keep in reserve.
Shortly afterwards, however, she was to buy what she describes as her “bestest gadget ever” – an energy monitor – and armed with it, set about doing her own audit, but this time concentrating on how much electricity she was actually using – and on what. The results were to prove surprising.
“I’d done all the switching off stand-by I could think of – but it didn’t really seem to register much on my meter and then I went to make a cuppa. Now I knew kettles used a bit of power, but I had no idea just how much. The display went bonkers! These days, I only boil the water I need, I can tell you!”
It wasn’t long before the rest of her domestic appliances got the same treatment. Since then, Lynne has systematically implemented pretty much all of the things recommended to save energy – from turning down the thermostat, to abandoning her tumble drier in favour of a washing line. It’s even got her back on a bike – “the first time since I was a kid” – and she’s cancelled her health club membership as a result. It may not be good news for the gym, but for Lynne it’s been a real short-cut to financial and physical fitness.
Cutting Those Bills
The bottom line is, of course, has it helped her cut those bills? She certainly seems to think so. Comparing her recent bills with previous years, Lynne says she’s noticed something like a 10% reduction.
“It’s a bit difficult to be exact; in amongst all of this, I also changed my job, so I’m coming and going at slightly different times and my weekends are different too, but I’d say putting it all together, I’m really starting to see those savings. Not a fortune, maybe, but they’re there – and all because the banks got in a mess!”
Well, they do say that every cloud has a silver lining.