Within just a month of moving into my new house, I noticed how my outgoings had increased. Bad news for someone doing up a home on a shoestring. After my mortgage, my bills are my home’s biggest outgoing. Under the sage advice of my dad, I called in British Gas to give my home a Green Energy Assessment to help work out where I could save money on my bills, and make my home run more efficiently.
For an upfront cost of £149, Paul Dickinson, from Green Deal & Affordable Warmth, examined my home. He asked lots of questions, including how many baths we run per day, how many people live here and how often I put the heating on. He also looked in the loft and checked the exterior walls, light bulbs and appliances. In total it took 2.5 hours and I took away five amazing money-saving tips:
1. Stop draughts big and small
Paul pointed out that my letterbox, front door and sash windows had gaps which allow cold air in, and hot air out. A quick fix is to fit draught excluder and uPVC brushes costing just £2 per metre. Hanging a thick curtain at my front door and bay windows to keep in the warmth would save me lots of cash, too. He also suggested these clever balloons, [http://www.chimneyballoon.co.uk/] which you pop up your fireplace and then inflate to stop draughts coming down your chimney. They cost £13 but would pay for themselves in one winter.
Total cost: £80
Saving: £31 in a year
2. Replace my boiler
My home came with a boiler that was installed when I was at university (yes, that old!). As it was an immersion boiler, I needed to heat up a tank of water every time I wanted a bath. Paul suggested replacing it with a new, energy-efficient combi boiler that heats water on demand.
Saving: £156 per year (so paying for itself in 16 years)
3. Fitting a smart thermostat
Paul told me about Hive, a clever remote control which is connected to your Wi-Fi so that you can control your central heating via an app on your phone. It means I could pop the heating on when I’m my way home, or – more importantly – turn it off when I’m out so I’m not heating an empty home.
Saving: £154 in the first year.
4. Install new windows
I love my Victorian sash windows, but I have to admit they are pretty draughty. Paul suggested replacing the ones at the back of the house with uPVC double glazing (you can get great looking ones these days). And at the front of my home, I’ve booked window experts Ventrolla to repair the windows to make them better than new.
Saving: £59 per year.
5. Add more Radiators
I only have four radiators in the whole house – brrrr! Using this handy tool on the B&Q website, I worked out what output of heat I needed for the size of my rooms. With this as my guide, I shopped around for a stylish-looking radiator that would pump out this level of heat. I fell in love with Mode radiators by Vogue. I’ve learnt, it doesn’t matter how hot you’re turning your heating up, if you don’t have enough radiators pumping out heat, then you’re wasting money on bills.