How to save money on your fuel bills.

There are a number of different factors that the average homeowner can undertake in order to help save money on their annual fuel bills.  These include a number of more obvious factors as well as a number of less obvious factors.  Every home is individual and every homeowner or occupier is individual and therefore a different balance of money-saving ideas or making energy usage more efficient, for every property and every situation is individual.

Things that can be done to help you save money include:-

1.                  Starting at the top of the property making certain that your roof space is properly insulated.  The Government advice is generally some 10″ of loft insulation into the roof space.  Care should be taken to make certain that the insulation material does not block up any ventilation and therefore does not let any condensation or any other problems occur within the roof space.  It should be noted that there are a number of different types of insulation.  Any insulation in the roof space can obviously make the roof space itself seem colder.  If the roof space itself is colder there is a greater chance of less water vapour being kept in suspension in the air and as a consequence a greater likelihood of condensation.  It is necessary to strike a balance between keeping the condensation at bay with the correct amount of ventilation (trickle venting), whilst maximising the thermal benefits of insulation to maintain a warm property and lower the fuel costs of heating an average home.

2.                  Cavity Wall Insulation.  Some people inject cavity wall insulation into a cavity in a property when insulation is actually put into the subject property at the time of construction.  If this is injected into the actual cavity wall the biggest single problem can be, of course, that there is no longer a cavity and therefore the wall effectively becomes a solid wall of a sandwich construction, with insulation in the middle section.  If insulation is in the middle section it is considerably easier for penetrating or other moisture that enters the outside leaf to pass over into the inner leaf of the property.  Therefore, cavity insulation is not necessarily always a sensible course of action.

3.                  Under floor Insulation.  This is often a much neglected area. Insulating the ground floor can dramatically increase the comfort levels within a subject property.  Under floor heating can help warm the property through although depending upon how this is installed this can be expensive to run.  It can also perform a very good function in relation to improving the comfort factor within a home.

4.                  Windows.  Virtually the most effective way to make your home seem warmer and cut your fuel bills is to draught proof your doors and windows.  This can be done very easily and cheaply in some cases with rolls of draught excluder.  It can also be done with double glazing.  This can be via replacement windows or alternatively via secondary double glazing.  It should be pointed out that in a listed building it may not be possible to replace windows, and approval from a Listed Building Officer may be required.  There can be a number of fringe benefits such as sound insulation (preventing noise from passing traffic or aircraft or school playgrounds).

5.                  We should learn how to assess the actual fuel options in your property.  Sometimes there might be several different fuel options such as gas central heating, a wood burning stove and the opportunity for a coal fire.  It may be more appropriate, at different times, depending upon the actual costs of the fuel concerned, to use different kinds of heating to produce the heat required within the home.

6.                  Saving Water.  Variable flushes within wc’s can reduce the amount of water used.  In addition, simply placing a stone in a water cistern tank will actually reduce the amount of water used in the flush if it is excessive.  This will then reduce the amount of water that it will take to fill a cistern up before the ball valve trips in and turns the water supply off.

There are many ways and methods of helping to insulate your home and reduce your bills.  However, it is always strongly recommended that you consider the most practical approach having regard to all the factors as some short term improvements in thermal insulation may well result in damage to the property in the longer term or may be contrary to regulations if certain factors apply such as being in a listed building.

June 2010