Going green: energy efficiency tips when heating and cooling your home

The rising cost of utility bills means everyone wants to reduce the amount they spend on heating their home in winter and cooling it in summer. There are several ways to make your property more energy efficient, so here are a few tips to help get you started.

Insulation

Having proper insulation for your loft and walls could save you more than you might think on your heating bills. Where walls are concerned, you’ll need to find out whether your home has solid or cavity walls. With the former, you can choose between internal or external insulation, while with the latter, insulation is fitted in the gap between the two layers of your walls.

Meanwhile, loft insulation can save you a significant sum, as around one-quarter of the heat generated in your house will be lost through this part of the home. As it’s relatively cheap to install – normally between £100 and £350 for the whole property according to the Energy Saving Trust – you could get your money back within two years.

This works the other way too, as in the summer having insulation will help keep cool air inside your home.

Consider your windows

There are some simple changes you can make to your habits that can make your heating and cooling efforts more effective. For instance, in the winter, you should close your curtains or blinds around dusk to prevent heat escaping through your windows. In the summer, keeping curtains drawn during the day can stop the sun’s light from heating a room, helping it stay cooler.

You should also check for draughts around your windows and reseal them if you can feel air getting in anywhere. If you are using air conditioning equipment  in the summer, keep the windows closed, as you want to prevent your cooled, climate-controlled air escaping outside.

Temperature control

Turning your thermostat down by one degree can save around ten per cent on your heating bill, so if you can cope with your house being a little cooler in the winter it is well worth doing. Similarly, setting your air conditioning unit one or two degrees higher in the summer while you are out of the house will stop it using too much energy to cool a home no one is in.

Use a programmable thermostat to help you set the temperature depending on your schedule. That way, you can ensure the heating or air conditioning is only on when people are at home and isn’t using unnecessary energy at times when there is nobody around.

Another tip to save energy and prevent your cooling system working too hard is to reduce the fan setting on your air conditioner. This has the added benefit of removing the humidity from the air, which will make your home more comfortable in hot weather.

Check your vents

If you have an air conditioning system in your home it is important to regularly check the ducts and vents to ensure there is no damage to them. Even small holes or cracks can make a difference to the performance of your unit, so it is worth being certain you don’t have any defects. You also need to replace your filter whenever it looks dirty, as a build-up of dust and grime will mean your system needs to work harder to cool your property.

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