How to be energy efficient without breaking the bank

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We hope you don’t think it’s a bit preachy when we say that we’ve all got a responsibility to go green, to do more with less energy, and to look for alternatives that do less damage to the planet.

Not only is it great for the environment, moving towards green energy can help create jobs, and improved energy efficiency can help you save a lot of money!

Let’s take a look at what you can do to be more energy efficient, reducing your bills and making big savings in the long term.

Energy-saving tips for around the home

When it comes to saving energy, it really does start with the small things – investing in renewable energy doesn’t make all that much difference if you’re wasteful in the way you use it. Here are some simple things that are all-too-easy to forget:

  • Turn off electrical appliances at the wall, rather than leaving them on standby
  • Turn off lights when you’re out of the room – if you prefer leaving lights on when you go out for security reasons, then invest in a timer to have them come on and off
  • Close your curtains when it starts getting dark, and keep internal doors shut, to keep heat in
  • Wash clothes at a lower temperature
  • Wash up using a bowl, rather than leaving the water running
  • Only fill up your kettle with the amount you need, rather than boiling too much
  • Set your heating on a timer rather than leaving it on at all times
  • Only heat the rooms you’re using

All of these things combined can make a much bigger impact on your heating bills – and on your carbon footprint! – than you might think.

And it doesn’t need to be a hassle, either – intelligent heating systems can take the guesswork out of switching your heating on and off, going off when rooms have reached your desired temperature – you can even control them through your phone.

Using renewable technology

Once you’ve made your home routines as energy efficient as possible, the next step is to explore renewable energy. There are two main kinds that you can explore for your home, so let’s take a look:

Solar power

Everyone knows how solar power works – or, at least the basics. Solar panels, which can be installed on your roof, or in your garden, convert the sun’s rays into electricity, which can then be used to power your home. Excess generated energy can be stored in a battery, or sold back to the grid – a nice little earner!

Solar energy is totally green, and completely renewable, making it one of the best methods available for lowering your carbon footprint.

 Heat pumps

Heat pumps come in two forms: air source, and ground source. The former uses a fan unit to extract heat from the air, while the latter uses buried pipes to extract heat from the ground. And they’ll heat your home in even the coldest weather!

Finance for energy efficient options

With green energy being such an important initiative, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of incentives and helping hands available for anyone looking to make the switch. Let’s take a look at them:

The Green Deal

The Green Deal was originally a government policy, but after it was brought to an end it was resurrected by private investment companies looking to encourage energy efficiency.

Green Deal loans help homeowners improve their properties by installing renewable energy products, with competitive interest rates that are rolled into your energy bills. They can make the cost of renewable energy installations much more affordable on a month-to-month basis, all while you enjoy the benefit of lowered bills.

You can find a Green Deal company through the government-provided search here. Be sure to get a few quotes before settling on a loan.

The Renewable Heat Incentive

The government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) gives you regular payments as a thank-you for choosing to go green. When you install certain kinds of renewable energy at your home, the government will make quarterly payments to you for seven years, based on the amount of clean, renewable heat that your system is producing.

The amount you receive will vary depending on your home, and the renewable technology you’re replacing it with, but it could see you receive an annual figure of hundreds – or even over £1,000.

These RHI payments can be a big help in affording the costs of installation, or paying off your Green Deal loan – and, once again, they’re combined with the added benefit of lowered bills. It may take a few years to pay everything off fully, but after you have, you’ll be making big savings.

Finance from your installation company

It’s worth checking with the company you’re getting to install your renewable technology as to whether they offer any kind of finance. For example, we offer interest-free payments* on all of our renewable energy installations – and the costs can be covered by your RHI payments.

Focus on: Air source heat pumps

When it comes to picking a form of renewable energy, many people immediately think of solar panels. But if you don’t want to drastically alter the way your home looks, don’t have the space to have them in a garden, or don’t get enough sunlight on your home due to its positioning, then they might not be the best option.

We find that air source heat pumps are often the best bet, particularly in smaller properties that may be a bit pushed for space. A small fan unit can be fitted to the side of your home, or as a standalone unit in the garden, making it a very subtle option.

While they do require some electricity to power the pump, meaning it’s not totally renewable, they generate much more energy than they consume – it’s a ratio of about 4:1.

Air source pumps qualify for the RHI and Green Deal funding, and can drastically lower your bills too, saving you a great deal of money over the long term, and reducing your carbon footprint too. Everyone’s a winner.

Want to find out more? Download our complete guide to air source heat pumps below – we’ll go over the costs, how much you can save, and what an installation will entail.

*Representative example: Price is £2,000, with a £200 deposit. £1,800 is borrowed for 36 months at an annual interest rate of 0% (fixed). The total amount repayable is £1,800 in 36 monthly instalments of £50. Representative 0% APR. For more information, see our finance options.