Save your energy and cut power costs
PUBLISHED: 18:22 05 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013
As the nights draw in and the days grow crisper, autumn is the ideal time to monitor your home energy usage, and to find ways of making your property warmer and cheaper to run<br/>Words by Sarah Willcocks
From simple good housekeeping to investing in renewable energy technology, you can protect your home against future energy price rises. Which measures you choose will be influenced by the style of your property, its location and how long you plan to live there.
With National Energy Saving Week taking place from October 24, we take a look at how homes in the North East are implementing green energy, from a massive Northumberland castle to a cosy Teesdale cottage.
Jules and Mike Keens new build features a modern heat recovery system, grey water recycling and a QR5 wind turbine. Green technology is a key feature of the property, winning it an award for sustainability from the LABC (Local Authority Building Control services) - no mean feat considering there are 38 rooms to heat, multiple bathrooms, a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.
The heating system works by ensuring that warmth from the stale air going out of the building is used to heat up the fresh air coming in. Rainwater (known as grey water) is stored in an underground tank, then recycled to flush the numerous toilets in the property.
The wind turbine with its vertical, twisted axis is designed to combine elegance with cutting edge technology.
Homeowners Sarah Gent and Graham Porter have invested in loft insulation, underfloor heating, an energy efficient boiler and a wood burning stove in the sitting room. They have recently noticed a 20 per cent decrease in their gas and electric bills.
The cottage is stone built so it is not the easiest to insulate, says Sarah. It retains heat well but it can also hold the cold in too because the walls are very thick. We wanted to heat the home more efficiently so we put in the wood burning stove.
We put in underfloor heating, which is a more balanced and cheaper way of heating than radiators. We also replaced all the windows with A-rated double glazing units.
Sarah and Grahams approach, which Sarah describes as patchwork, is to work with what they have got in terms of property and budget
With two young children to bring up, Sarah and Graham felt motivated by environmental concerns as well as the need to save money. Future plans for the property include fitting solar panels.
New build eco house,
Sally Marshall and husband Dr Kevin Robertson are known for building the first Code 6 energy efficient house in the North East. The Code for Sustainable Homes encourages sustainable building practices. Level six is the highest award and represents 100 per cent energy efficiency in the home.
We wanted to combine our design ideas in a manner that became green living, says Kevin. The result is an aesthetically striking home but one that manages energy resources better.
Counting the cost
Financial help is available if you are planning to make energy saving improvements to your home. The Government, local authorities and energy suppliers all provide grants to help households implement energy saving measures.
Under the Governments Green Deal finance plan, from next year grants of up to 10,000 are available to homeowners wishing to install renewable energy. A Green Deal advice line, to be set up in 2012, will offer customers referrals to accredited assessors, installers and providers.
Other financial incentives include the feed-in tariff. Homes that generate
power and export any excess power back to the national grid will earn an
Examples of low carbon technology that may achieve this include wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels and hydro-electric systems. These technologies use wind, sun and water as alternatives to burning fossil fuels.
Top tips to cut your heating bill
Your energy company may offer a discount to customers who pay their bills by Direct Debit.
Switch to paperless billing - your energy supplier may offer discounts if you agree to go paper free.
Switch supplier. Internet comparison sites such as Uswitch.com will flag up which suppliers offer the best price and service.
Thermostat controls are often set too high. If you can reduce the temperature by one degree Celsius it can reduce your heating bills by ten per cent and save around 50 per year.
Regional contacts and suppliers
Energy Savings Trust The advice centre for the North East can tell you about any special grants or offers available in your area and whether you can apply for them.
Tel: 0800 512 012
tadeaTelephone 0845 602 9569
Trinity Energy Management accredited Carbon Trust consultant Astley Fenwick Telephone 07752 414299
Utility Warehouse contact Andrew Matthews www.billreduction.co.uk
Telephone 07962 221445
North East Renewables Alliance one-stop shop for the design and installation of renewable technologies. Telephone 01642 373028