Saturday, 21 May 2011

Go Green And Save Money

Our homes generate a quarter of the UK's CO2 emissions, yet a third of the energy we use is wasted. It's time to act, but what is truly practical and affordable for us to do? And can we save some money while we're at it? Channel 4 Homes Helps Us Take A Look Into How We can cut carbon emissions and save money.

The Loft

Up to a quarter of a home's heat can escape through the roof if it's badly insulated. According to the Building Research Establishment, if you were to put down 270mm of insulation in an empty loft, you'd save £145 a year. The greenest option would be to insulate it with natural, environmentally friendly products. These include Warmcel 100, made from recycled paper; Isonat Plus, made from UK-grown hemp and recycled cotton; and Thermafleece, which comes from UK sheep. You can buy all of them from EnergyWays at www.naturalinsulations.co.uk.

There are reductions to be made on insulation measures for home owners and landlords, as part of the government's Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT). Contact your local Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre to see what's on offer. For more advice on insulation, see Fitting Insulation

Cost: £250 (installed); £50-£350 (DIY)
Return: Two to three years

The Walls

Like roofs, walls can also leak up to a third of the heat produced in your home. The government is very keen on cavity wall insulation at the moment, so grab a grant while you can. It takes less than a day to install, there's minimal disruption, and it could save you £110 a year on fuel bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Ideally, opt for eco-friendly Warmcel.

If your home was built before or around the 1920s, it probably has solid walls, and around 45% of heat is lost through them. Insulation is expensive and usually worth considering only when you're refurbishing, though it could save you £375 a year on fuel bills. Internal insulation consists of rigid insulation boards or a stud wall, and costs £5,500 to £8,500. External insulation consists of a layer

of insulating material attached to walls then finished with cladding or render, cost £10,500 to £14,500. Find a registered installer at The Insulated Render & Cladding Association (INCA).

Cost: (cavity walls) around £250 including CERT subsidy (see above); otherwise around £500
Return: Two years


Draught Proofing

Around 20% of all heat loss in a typical home is through ventilation and draughts. Obviously, some ventilation is essential, especially if you have solid-fuel or gas fires, but don't forget that wherever you can feel a draught coming in, warm air is going out.

Save around £25

by draught proofing doors and windows, and around £20 extra if you fill gaps between the floorboards and skirtings as well.

Cost: £100 if you do it yourself
Return: Four years (or one year if you do the floorboards and skirting, too)

Buying New Equipment

Appliances

Don't forget to look out for the official energy rating when you're buying a new appliance. 'A', 'A+' and 'A++' rated is good, but don't bother if it's less than 'B' or 'C'. It's difficult to cost out the saving, but as an example, an 'A' rated freezer or washing machine will only use a third of the energy of one with a lower rating. Sneak Preview: I'm told The new House 2 Home Megastore has some very efficient appliances that will be available for purchase when the site launches completely, which, i'm told is getting nearer everyday.

Saves: from £7 (for integrated digital TV) to £38 (for a fridge freezer)
Cost: Depends what you buy
Return: Four years

The Boiler

If you're thinking of installing a new one, go for it as soon as possible! Around 60% of all domestic CO2 emissions come from old boilers. New rules say boilers should have an 'A' efficiency rating, which basically means having a condensing boiler.

Save up to £235 by replacing an old G-rated boiler with a new A-rated one and installing a full set of heating controls.

Cost: From £650 (plus £600 to £800 for installation)
Return: Four years

Lightbulbs

Is your ceiling filled with those pretty little halogen bulbs? Each one uses 50w, while energy-efficient bulbs use up to four times less electricity to generate the same amount of light. Each one will save around £9 on your annual bill.

Cost: from 50p
Return: Within a year

Double Glazing

This will reduce heat loss by half and knock £130 a year off the average bill. Look for the energy-saving recommended logo, and if money's not a factor, choose Argon-filled triple-glazed timber-framed windows made with low-emissivity glass (look for the 'A' to 'G' energy rating and Forest Stewardship Council certification for the frame). 'If you are on a budget, secondary glazing that fits inside the existing frame is much more cost-effective and can reduce heat loss,' says Sally Oakes from the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Cost: £400 per unit
Return: 20 years+

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