Continuing from last week’s post, here are three further suggestions for cutting your heating costs.

Improve your insulation

Insulation can have a significant impact on your heating bills and ways to improve it – from small and relatively inexpensive changes you can make, to larger, pricier ones – have been covered in two previous posts. These changes include fitting a jacket on your hot water tank, placing reflector panels behind radiators and installing double glazing.

Use less water

In terms of reducing your heating bill, using less hot water (i.e. water heated by your boiler) is what you need to focus on, but in terms of reducing your water bill, as well as caring for the environment, it’s in your interest to use less water altogether. A previous post covered ways of saving water in the bathroom, where according to a 2013 Guardian article: “showering now accounts for the biggest single use of water in the home“. The water conservation methods which relate to using less hot water include: installing tap-flow restrictors, installing eco-shower heads, and choosing showers over baths, which use significantly more water still.

Tap-flow restrictors can similarly help reduce hot water consumption in the kitchen, as can washing up in a sink or washing-up bowl of water rather than beneath a running tap. Water from the hot water tap comes out cold to begin with, so when filling up a sink or washing-bowl it’s more efficient to catch this initial quantity of cold water to balance out the subsequent hot, rather than running both hot and cold taps right away.

Washing machineIf, as is most common in the UK, your heating system is fuelled by gas, then the hot water used in dishwashers won’t generally form part of your heating bill, as most of these appliances take in cold water and heat it up inside – but for the sake of your electricity bill it’s worth mentioning that loading a dishwasher efficiently makes it less likely you’ll need to put things through again, consuming both more water and more electricity in the process. There is much room for energy saving when using appliances where water is heated by electricity. Such appliances include: washing machines, where most clothes can be effectively washed at 30°C, and kettles, where boiling only the amount of water you are going to use could, if adopted by everyone in the UK, “save enough electricity in a year to power the UK’s street lights for two months”.

Use renewable technologies for generating heat

Good Energy suggests that if you have a south-facing roof (i.e. one which receives sunlight throughout the day) you could install solar-thermal panels to heat your water and save as much as 70% of your water heating costs. If you’re a customer of Good Energy, the company will also reward you for generating energy in this way through its HotROCs scheme. Notwithstanding these financial incentives, the cost of installing solar-thermal panels is substantial at £3,900 for a typical system. Alternative renewable technologies for generating heat are detailed on the Energy Saving Trust website.

[Photo by jusben and taliesin]