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Sunday, March 21, 2010

How To Save Money In Your Home

Save energy (and money!) in your home

By Robert Henson (

From heating and hot water to appliances and gadgets, here are 10 ways to use less power and save money -- and fight climate change at the same time.
Energy efficiency starts at home

Saving energy at home will provide a dual satisfaction: less greenhouse gas in the atmosphere and, sooner or later, more money in your pocket. The following tips should help you streamline your household energy use. You may also want to contact your local government office to see whether if offers free home-energy audits or energy-efficiency grants.

Heating and hot water

Heating and cooling is a key area, accounting for a staggering 82 per cent of household energy use in the UK. Older houses are especially inefficient in this regard, though there's room for improvement in nearly all homes.

• Insulation

Start small with weather-stripping -- sealing up cracks around doors and windows -- but be sure to consider beefing up your loft and wall insulation (the attic is a good place to start, since it's easier to access and less expensive to insulate). If you live in a hot climate, you can save on air-con by using bright, reflective window drapes and shades wherever sunlight enters, and by using light colours or a reflective coating on your roof.

• Turn down the dial

Reducing your heating and hot-water temperatures by just a small amount can make a disproportionate difference to your energy consumption. You may find you sleep better, too. Try 16-18C (61-64F) and throw on a sweater. As for hot water, aim for 50C (122F). If you use air conditioning, shoot for 25C (77F), or, if you're in a warm, dry climate, investigate swamp coolers, which can take the edge off summer heat while humidifying the air and using far less energy than an air conditioner.

• Boilers and heating controls

An efficient boiler (hot-water heater) would make a sensible long-term investment for many households. Modern condensing boilers produce more than 10 per cent extra heat and hot water per unit of energy than a typical boiler from 10 years ago. Efficient heating controls -- especially those that let you specify the temperature of individual rooms, or program different temperatures for different times of day -- can also take a significant chunk out of your energy demands, in return for a comparatively small investment.

If you have a hot-water tank, be sure to insulate it. Purpose-built blankets are inexpensive and can save 25 to 45 per cent of the energy required to heat the water. (Some newer hot-water tanks have insulation built in.)

• Pick your fuel
In general, natural gas is a more climate-friendly fuel for home heating and hot water than oil, electricity or coal. If you're not connected to the gas network, wood could be your best bet, as long as the fuel is coming from forests that are being replenished as fast as they're being harvested.

• Showers and baths

Everyone knows that showers use less energy than baths, and that shorter showers use less energy than longer ones. Less widely known is that a low-flow shower nozzle, which mixes air with the water flow, can reduce the amount of hot water needed by half.


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