Energy Efficiency

Use Less Energy at Home

Whilst using and generating renewable energy are really important, we also need to be more energy efficient to reduce our energy consumption.

There are lots of small steps you can take to save energy and therefore save money too!

Your Appliances

The key thing so make sure that when you use energy, you use it efficiently.

Switch off all electrical appliances when you have finished using them, unless it is key that they remain switched on (e.g. Sky Box).

Don’t over fill your kettle otherwise you’ll be wasting energy on boiling water you don’t need.

When buying new electric appliances make sure they are AAA rated as they are the most energy efficient.

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!

When looking at the energy you need to run your home, the key is to reduce the heat loss from your home. It may seem a bit boring, but the no.1 thing you can do is to insulate – and you could save £200 per year if you do!

You can insulate your walls, loft, roof and floors, and double glaze your windows and doors, to help stop that expensive heat escaping. Most heat is lost through your walls, then your loft. About the same amount is lost through windows and doors as is lost through draughts.

Incentives for Landlords

There is a tax allowance which landlords can claim for carrying out energy efficiency measures – find out more on

Keep Warm (but turn heat down!)

Turning your room heating thermostat down by just 1 degree (and maybe wearing more seasonal clothing!) can save you around £65 per year and 260kg of carbon.

Also check your central heating timer is not set over-generously, and comes on just before you need it and goes off a good half hour before you stop needing it.

Draught excluders and curtains will help insulate your home and mean you can keep your thermostat lower in the winter months.

Use Energy-Saving Blackout Blinds to reflect heat back into a room (it could save about 20% more heat than a conventional blind).

Underfloor Heating Systems

Underfloor heating systems can offer an alternative to using radiators to deliver central heating. These systems can sit under a variety of floor types : stone, tile, wooden and carpeted surfaces.

There are two main types of floor heating to choose from:

  • electric underfloor heating, which is also known as a dry system, and
  • water, pump-driven, underfloor heating, or a wet system

Electric underfloor heating
The electric system you need will depend on the size of the room and the type of flooring. Loose-fit wiring is flexible enough to fit into small or awkward spaces, whilst pre-fabricated heating mats can be used for larger areas. Where are floor is carpeted, check that the carpet and underlay aren’t so dense that it will prevent the heat moving upwards (i.e. a tog of no more than 1.5 is recommended). A qualified electrician will need to connect your underfloor heating system to your mains supply, and fit a sensor that connects to the thermostat. This allows you to control the temperature and pre-set the system to turn on or off.

Prices for roll-out heating mats start from around £100 per square metre, and loose-fit kits from around £70 per square metre. You’ll also need to consider other materials such as insulation board, screed and heating controls, as well as the electrician’s call out and labour charge. Please note that electric underfloor heating is expensive to run.

Wet Underfloor Heating
A wet underfloor heating system can be installed underneath the same floor types as a dry system, with the same consideration for underlay/carpet thickness. With a wet underfloor heating system, a series of pipes connected to your boiler or hot water cylinder circulate warm water throughout the floor to heat the space. The heat emitted from a underfloor system is distributed more evenly than heat from a radiator, so the system can use water at a lower temperature, making it a more energy efficient way of heating your home.

There does need to be enough space to fit the underfloor piping, meaning you might have to raise the level of the floor, which is not always possible when it is being retrofitted. For this reason, wet underfloor heating systems are best suited to new builds.

A wet underfloor heating system is more expensive to fit than an electric kit and you’ll need a heating engineer or underfloor heating specialist to complete the installation.

Underfloor Heating – Advantages

  • Provides warm and cosy stone and tile floors
  • An underfloor heating system can remove the need for radiators in a room
  • Possible to install in a new-build or retrospectively
  • Can be done as mainly a DIY solution.

Underfloor Heating – Disadvantages

  • Underfloor heating systems can take longer to heat up than other forms of heating, but will also take longer to cool down, so can be switched off earlier
  • Underfloor heating isn’t suitable for siting underneath fittings or furniture, so it can restrict the layout of a room.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)
Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs) are used in place of standard on/off valves. Their purpose is to enable any central heating system to be used in the most effective and economic way. They can, in fact, save you money. Instead of one central control thermostat switching all the radiators in the home on or off at the same time, depending solely on the temperature near the thermostat, every radiator is independently controlled by its own thermostat.

As soon as any individual room temperature reaches a pre-set level, the radiator in that room automatically reduces its output, yet others in the house continue to operate until they too reach the required temperature. They work best in rooms that overheat, like kitchens or conservatories, or in rooms which are rarely used, such as spare bedrooms.

By fitting TRVs you can save at least £20-£25 annually.


Switch off lights if you are the last person to leave the room, even if you intend to go back in a minute. 

It is a myth that ‘switching a light off uses more power than leaving it on’! Switching a light on does use a large amount of energy, but only for a very short period of time. In fact, leaving a light off for 5 seconds saves the energy taken to switch a light on. So have a light off for more than 5 seconds, and you will be saving electricity. The same goes for appliances that would normally be left on standby – you can save a lot of electricity by switching them off.

Use Energy Efficient Lighting such as LEDs, which are Light-Emitting-Diodes. These are the lowest energy options (apart from switching lights off!). They use a fraction of the energy of other forms of lighting. This technology has developed rapidly in recent years and now can be used to replace Halogen Bulbs, strip lighting and outdoor lighting. However, when replacing one type of lighting with another, always consult with a lighting specialist.

It is much better to replace your old light bulbs as soon as possible and there are now ample facilities for recycling old light bulbs too.

Love your Laundry

Washing clothes at 30 degrees rather than 40 degrees uses around 40% less energy. Furthermore it’s kinder on your clothes and helps to make them last longer. You can also make your wash more efficient by ensuring you put a full load of washing on each time. Finally, avoiding the tumble dryer and hanging your clothes out on the line will save energy and cut your bills!

Wash Up By Hand

If a dishwasher is only used once a week (for everything) then it is probably not doing too much harm. However, if it starts to be used 2-3 times a week, plus separate hand washing for saucepans and the soaking of dishwasher items, then it starts to add up. You are looking at 3 times as much electricity and hot water, plus the extra money in purchasing tablets, for dishwashing over hand washing (throughout one week) – plus the job of emptying the dishwasher still remains!

Borrow a Thermal Imagining Camera

Ask your local council if they have a thermal imaging camera you can borrow for a short period of time.

The camera is easy to use and making heat loss visible makes it so much easier to identify and rectify. It is great for identifying gaps in walls or around windows and doors, for showing up thermally inefficient materials (e.g. metal window frames), and even for showing where radiators have got sludgy. The camera is most useful when there is at least a 10 degree difference between the indoor temperature and outdoor temperature, i.e. over winter, so they prefer to lend it out to community groups or groups of neighbours, so that more people can benefit from it.

Borrow an Energy Monitor from Your Local Library

You may be able to slash your home electricity bills by borrowing an energy monitor for free from your local library.

Many libraries in the UK are offering the money-saving gadgets to library members to borrow for a week at no cost, just like a book. The energy monitors can be connected to your meter and give an accurate reading of how much electricity you are using at that moment. Residents can then start cutting their bills and reducing their impact on climate change by switching off appliances left on unnecessarily. Households can typically save between £25 and £75 off a £500 electricity bill by using a monitor and changing their energy using behaviour in the home.

Monitors are in stock at the larger libraries but can be requested at any local library or mobile library or via the Library catalogue online for collection at any library.

Eco Homes

SuperHomes is a rapidly expanding network of 150 energy aware UK households. These pioneering homeowners are redefining green living. All have refurbished their old homes to the highest standards of energy efficiency. Eco friendly, sustainable, low energy and low carbon – the refurbished houses are least 60% less reliant on fossil fuels. This means that SuperHome owners are really leading the way. Visit the website to learn from them at

Check out the B&Q Victorian Eco House which is an ordinary suburban home they have refurbished to be more energy efficient and using renewable energy: DIY One Planet Home.

See also GreenMoves – the UK’s first dedicated ‘eco property for sale’ website – aiming to make finding, buying, renting or selling eco properties as easy as possible –

Energy Efficient Travel

A lot of energy goes into producing and running cars for example, so its best to get on foot, cycle, car share or use public transport when you can.

Walking and Cycling

Walking or cycling keeps you fit, is free and can give you a little time to relax, think, or plan. It may take time to get used to so why not start by trying it for a day or a week. If you have never cycled or not cycled for years, some local authorities organise Cycling Courses for adults, and road safety cycling courses are available for children.

Keep safe walking or cycling, that means lights on your bike and reflective clothing. Someone who cycles 20 miles a week is on average as fit as someone 10 years younger!

Contact your local authority for information on local footpaths and cycle routes.

Public Transport

Using public transport can free up time to work, be sociable, and can be a great way to reach town and city centres without needing a parking space. Don’t forget – if you are over 60 you can get a free bus pass from your Local Authority!

Some towns even now run electric buses!

Travel planning websites make it much easier to find out how to get from A to B too.

Cars & Driving

Share when you can! There are now several local and national schemes to connect people who would like to share lifts through Car Share Schemes. And don’t worry if it doesn’t suit you to do that every day, if everyone shared a lift just one day a week, there would be 10% less traffic on the roads.

Maybe you only need a car occasionally instead of owning a car, taxing and insuring it you could pay by the hour and mile.

When you have to drive try to share a lift if you can, and use Eco-driving techniques, which can reduce your fuel consumption by 25%. These techniques will improve your safety as well as they include thinking ahead, keeping your tyres inflated and avoiding excessive breaking and acceleration.

Calculate your fuel efficiency
Start recording your mileage and the amount fuel you buy, this will enable you to calculate the fuel efficiency of your car. Why not see if you can improve it by using eco-driving techniques. If you are trying to drive less, you can also use this record to try and reduce the number of miles you drive each week or month.

To calculate your fuel consumption, you need to divide the distance driven by the amount of fuel used. So each time you fill up record the number of litres of fuel and the mileage.

Better still – invest an electric car such as the 100% electric Nissan LEAF!


Flying causes a significant proportion of carbon emissions, and because these are emitted at high altitude the effect on the environment is much more harmful. Do you really need to go ? If it is for a meeting, could you use the telephone or videoconference instead? If it is for a holiday, why not try a Staycation instead?! We need to reduce the amount we fly. For UK and European destinations travel by train is a viable and enjoyable alternative.

A good resource for routes and price information for world-wide rail travel is the website Seat 61.

Energy Efficient Food

A huge amount of energy goes into producing our food, especially from unsustainable farming systems like factory farms - not just to rear the animals, but also to grow the vast amounts of feed they need. Energy is also needed for heating, lighting, ventilation, packaging and shipping food - whether meat, dairy or vegetable.

Green your Cuisine

Eating local and seasonal food is the key. Our country is choc-full of fantastic artisan producers, and if you don’t have the time to shop around every week, why not make a visit to your local farmers market or arrange for a home delivery? Also some supermarkets are better than others at stocking regional produce!

Organic and free-range food is not only much more planet-friendly (and is kinder to animals too of course), but is also better for your health and tastes much nicer too.

Eating less meat is also a good idea – it is better to spend a little more money on quality meat, and just eat it a little less often – vegetables and pulses are much cheaper than meat too. Check out the Meat Free Monday website for recipe ideas:

Kitchen Care

Using the right size saucepans to match the hobs and keeping the lid on while you cook can reduce the amount of heat required. Part-cooking food in the microwave before putting it in the oven saves time and energy – for example when cooking a jacket potato. Turning your oven off ten minutes before the end cooking time will still allow your food to finish cooking in the residual heat.

Water Energy Efficiency

A lot of energy goes into processing our water.
Use it sparingly, and save what you can for the garden.

Water Harvesting

There are two main options here – water butts to collect rainwater, and grey-water systems to capture waste soapy water (not sewage) for outdoor use in your garden. Contact your local water company or waste water company to see if they can help you with any special deals or advice.

Shower Power

Take a shower instead of a bath – a five minute shower will use less than half the water needed for a bath and of course use less energy to heat the water.

More Energy Efficient Waste

A lot of energy goes into producing new products and into getting rid of it when it is no longer wanted!

The key thing here is to reduce the amount of stuff that goes to landfill waste.


Where you have a choice, buy the option that has the least amount of un-reusable or un-recyclable packaging.

Where you have waste, take the time to sort it and recycle it, even if it means taking a special trip to your local tip once in a while.

Make do and mend

Get your sewing machine out to mend or adapt old clothes, and get onto some DIY projects such as…


Upcycling is a great way to give your home or yourself a facelift – repainting old desks, using unwanted clothes for cushion covers, or giving everyday items an interesting new use can make for a great new look, and it saves sending your old unwanted items as ‘waste’ to the landfill.

For some great upcycling ideas visit

Get Shwopping!

Approximately 500,000 tonnes or 1 billion items of clothing are sent to landfill each year – that’s 114,000 items every single hour!

Neither the planet’s landfill, nor its resources, are infinite and we know that placing unwanted clothing items into the bin (and therefore into landfill) when they could be recycled or re-used – it’s madness.

One solution that’s been around for donkey’s years, is donating our old clothes to charity. But for a number of reasons, we’re still sending a billion items of clothing to landfill. The idea that one day not a single item of clothing would end up in the rubbish seemed insurmountable.

Yet, suddenly, it now seems completely possible. M&S, a founding partner of Start has now set itself the enormous challenge of making it the norm to take an item of clothing with you to donate every time we go shopping.

M&S’s shwopping initiative makes clothes donation so simple and convenient, it’s almost hard not to do it. With ‘Shwop Drop’ donation boxes in every single store across the UK (except for Simply Food branches) this project will certainly help us all move away from ‘disposable’ fashion where we throw away clothes when we’ve had enough of them.

Find out more at:

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