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How home improvements can improve energy efficiency

Posted 14 Oct 2021


With the sudden rise in wholesale gas prices due to a shortage of supply, many people will soon be experiencing higher energy bills. There has never been a better time to improve the energy efficiency of your home. 

Energy saving light bulbs

Energy efficient light bulbs have been common place across the UK since the old-style incandescent bulbs were completely banned in 2016 and halogen bulbs banned in 2019. Still, there are many old-style bulbs still hanging around. 

The old-style bulbs are extremely inefficient as only 10% of the energy used to power the bulb is actually turned into light. The remaining energy is wasted as heat. Energy saving light bulbs.

There are two types of energy saving light bulbs that are widely available today. 

Compact fluorescent light bulbs

Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, were the first energy-saving light bulbs to replace the old incandescent bulbs. CFL uses 75% less energy and lasts 10 times longer than the old style incandescent bulbs. 

There were a few teething troubles when CFLs were first introduced. They tended to take a few seconds to warm up and therefore reach their full brightness, this put off many consumers to begin with. The technology has massively improved since with the bulbs no longer having a delay in reaching full brightness. 

There is a downside to CFLs. The bulbs contain mercury so are not environmentally friendly especially when they are sent to landfill.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs)

LEDs are the premier league of energy efficient light bulbs. 

While incandescent bulbs only convert 10% of their energy to light, an LED converts over 90% and emits very little heat. This means they need far less energy to produce the same amount of light as a traditional bulb. LEDs last for a long time too. They can last up to 34 years whereas incandescent bulbs last for just over a year. 

The long life and energy consumption make LED bulbs really cost effective. A recent article from the guardian newspaper states “Switching to LED light bulbs will shave nearly £2bn off the energy bills for Britain’s 25m homes. It will stop as much as 8m tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere and the energy saved at peak time equates to the output of three power stations the size of Hinkley Point C.”

Replace your old inefficient boiler

A direct consequence of rising gas prices will be an increase in the cost of heating our homes. One way to try and keep costs to a minimum is to replace your heating system with a new more economical heating system using a traditional gas boiler or look at alternative sustainable heating solutions. 

All gas-fired boilers fitted after the 1st April 2005 have to be condensing boilers. This applies to all boiler replacements and brand new installations. 

Condensing boilers have two internal heat exchangers which means that the heat lost to the surroundings, especially through the flue, is decreased. This makes them highly efficient. They also use less fuel and power which makes them the greener alternative, plus their CO2 emissions are much lower than their non-condensing counterparts.

A greener alternative to a traditional heating system is to use a renewable energy source. Ground source heat pumps take the natural heat generated by the earth and use it to provide heating and hot water to homes. Find out more about ground source heat pumps.

Install solar panels

Another way to combat the rising electricity and gas prices is to install solar panels. 

Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), take the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity that you can use in your home.

There are a few things that should be considered before deciding on installing solar panels.

Do you have enough space for solar panels?

Typically, a roof with 10-20 square metres of space would be enough to deliver between 20% and 45% of the typical household’s electricity needs.

This roof space should also ideally face South, be unshaded, and at a pitch angle of about 30 or 40 degrees.

How much does solar panel installation cost?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, on average solar panel installation costs around £5000. This may seem expensive but generating your own electricity can save up to £330 per year from your electricity bill. Some electricity providers will also allow any excess electricity that may be generated to be sold back to the grid. 

If you are looking to reduce your energy bills and combat the inevitable price rises, now is the time to improve your home’s energy efficiency. HMS electrical are expert electrical contractors and can advise on any new installations in your home.