Global warming and green living is the topic we are all currently obsessed with. We want to carry on enjoying ourselves while at the same time reducing our carbon footprints, says Jenny Knight.
The other big attraction of low-energy life is that it might save us money – an important consideration for many after the extravagances of the festive season.
Expert Doug Johnson, of the independent energy consultancy, Mesh Energy, has drawn up ten tips to turn your house into an eco-home in 2020. Follow only half of them and Greta Thunberg would be proud of you.
- Top tip is to improve loft insulation. Latest building regulations suggest about 300mm of fibre glass insulation. A top up to get up to this level costs the average home about £500 and you are likely to get the money back within two to three years.
- Cavity wall insulation is more expensive and there have also been reports of damp resulting. However, targeting draughts and open chimneys in older properties is a no-brainer. Draughts can account for about 15% of a standard energy bill. Draught proofing seals, tape and chimney balloons can recoup their cost within a year.
- Solar panel systems are down in price and the largest 16 panel domestic system costs about £7,000 meaning you can earn the money back within 10 years.
- A heat pump costs about £10,000 to £15,000, but the renewable heat incentive (RHI) scheme offers tax free payments for seven years to almost guarantee a return on your investment.
- Ditch the AGA – even the efficient electric versions cost over £1,000 a year. Might be cheaper to send for a take-away.
- Replacement low flow shower heads cost about £25 each and save about 25% of water without making your shower feel any different.
- LED lights are cheaper than ever. Some can be bought for less than £10 online. If you occupy the house during the day or have areas in the home that are used all the time with lots of lights then this measure is a real energy and cash saver. Depending on usage this typically costs less than £300 to implement, but you could realistically get your money back within the first year.
- For no expenditure at all you can make a saving of about £150 a year by not using your tumble dryer and rigging up a washing line in the garden or balcony instead.
- Finally get your water metered and collect rainwater for the garden at the cost of a plastic barrel and some guttering. Shame the barrel is plastic but none of us can be perfect.