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Eco Friendly Changes for the Winter

As the winter months grow closer and closer, and temperatures begin to drop, it is easy to crank up the heating without thinking much of it. However, with the environment becoming a more important subject, we start to think about our actions and what we can do to improve the energy efficiency of our homes and the impact on the environment.

First of all, the obvious choice is changing the source of our energy – such as solar panels. This is a very effective way of reducing the monthly cost of electricity but also reducing the impact on the environment, however they can come at a hefty cost – normally totalling around £3,500-£5,000. Usually to make the cost worthwhile, it can take around 10-20 years for you to start saving money from this. It is definitely better on the environment compared to the impact on our wallets. If you are planning on staying in your home, it can be a great investment but it is a more long-term solution.

Onto something smaller – light bulbs. Although they are most expensive, LED bulbs are not only brighter but more energy efficient. It usually doesn’t take too long for you to start saving money on your bills too – you just need to check the fittings are correct. If not, you need to consult an electrician who can change the fittings which can impact the cost.

The type of boiler has a huge impact on energy efficiency and cost of bills. Firstly, older boilers are less energy efficient and generally much less effective at warming up water. Having a separate hot water tank can also cost more as the water takes much longer to heat up. Either changing to a modern combination boiler or looking at different sources altogether can reduce cost and increase energy efficiency.

Air source pumps can lower your bills, cut carbon emissions and can heat your hot water. However, you must give it space to allow for a good air flow. You must have a hot water cylinder but you don’t need a boiler if you want it to

heat up your water. Typical costs are around £7,000-£13,000. The pump must also be 1m from neighbours, making it inconvenient for terraced, semi-detached residents and some living in detached houses.

Insulation and double glazing sounds very simple but keeps heat within the household. Less heat escapes and means that you use less energy to heat your home. It is more efficient and can save you on your household bills.

Different fireplaces can also have an impact on the environment. Open fireplaces fuelled by logs or coal are incredibly inefficient and have the highest annual pollution output and also produce particulate pollution. Wood burning stoves are more efficient and EPA certified stoves reduce the particulate pollution significantly. Pellet stoves are 75%-90% efficient with low emissions and are fuelled using waste sawdust. Gas fireplaces are around 65% efficient with the rest of the heat escaping through the flue. Some gas fires can be made more energy efficient with proper insulation and sealing. Electric fireplaces are the most efficient, with 100% of the electricity being converted to heat. None can escape through a flue, however for it to be the most environmentally friendly, the electricity source must be clean. If it is produced using coal, you’re not burning a clean fuel.

Small changes can also be made, such as insulation around a hot water cylinder, draught protection under doors and thermostats to control the temperature of the heating.

If you are smart with how you use your energy and even implement small changes, everything adds up. Those changes can make a huge difference to emissions, and you can implement more as time goes on – you don’t have to do everything at once!