Many people will know some of the obvious ways of saving energy such as improving insulation, using low energy light bulbs and turning off appliances. Here are another 5 ideas that you may not have thought of – which between them may result in a significant reduction in energy usage.
1) Keep the Windows Clean
Most modern houses have large windows – and the sun provides a free source of both heat and light. Even moderately dirty windows may reduce the amount light and heat by about 50% so by keeping windows clean you can make the most of this free energy. The benefit is felt most in the Autumn and Spring – where it may mean turning the heating on as much as a month later and turning it back off as much as a month earlier. It may also mean that house lights are not required during the day and early evening. For an average household this may save as much as £50 per year from your bills.
2) Raise the Humidity
Most people erroneously think the temperature is the only thing that determines how warm we feel. This is not in fact true with the perceived temperature also depending heavily upon the humidity. For example a room at 21 Degrees and 30% humidity will feel relatively cool – but at 70% humidity will feel pretty warm. Most modern houses with central heating end up with very low relative humidity – around 30%. Using plants or a humidifier to raise this to around 55% means the thermostat can be turned down about 1.5 to 2 degrees- giving an energy saving in excess of 10%.
In addition to the energy savings there are also significant health benefits. The higher humidity will reduce airborne dust, help those with asthma and reduce the build-up of static electricity on carpets.
3) Use the heaters/radiators mounted on the internal walls
In most properties some radiators are mounted on internal walls and some on external walls. Unfortunately those mounted on external walls tend to lose much of their heath through the wall behind them. Significant savings can therefore be made in the Autumn and Spring by using only heaters and radiators mounted on internal walls.
4) Don’t place curtains in front of heaters and radiators
A common mistake is to place radiators below windows – and then place curtains in front of the windows and radiators. With heavy curtains there is often as much insulation between the radiator and the room as there is between the radiator and the outside. This means that as much as 50% of the heat may be wasted through the window glass. Clearly it is preferable to have all the insulation between the radiator and the outside world.
The best way to solve this issue is to use shorter curtains that clear the radiator, and fit a radiator shelf that directs the hot air round the outside of the curtains. This also ensures that any cold draughts from the windows are eliminated.
5) Use the air conditioner in winter
Reversible air conditioning that heats as well as cools is now getting more common in both houses and offices. What many people are un-aware of is because these use heat pumps they are usually around 4 times more energy efficient than electrical radiators or heaters. For example an air conditioning unit that consumes 1kW can output about 4kW of heat – enough to heat a medium sized house. It does this by refrigerating the outside air and pumping the heat to the inside. Quite clearly using a reversible air conditioner in this way in a house or office can reduce your energy consumption by about 75%.