Winter tends to throw up all sorts of problems in the home – poor heat retention, draughts or a dark dreary interior. But if you plan ahead you could prevent them from arising. Here are some ways in which you can enjoy winter at home…….
Winter is the time when we retreat to the warmth and safety of our homes, but with energy prices set to increase again, our greatest concern this year could be whether we can afford to put the heating on in our retreat! According to the Energy Saving Trust, nearly one fifth of heat lost from an uninsulated home can be through the windows. Fitting double glazed windows can save around 15% on your energy bills while upgrading your boiler to a condensing boiler could reduce your heating bill by 33%.
Since December 2008 all homes in Northern Ireland when sold, built or rented, need an Energy Performance Certificate. The EPC produced for a building is based on a number of factors including efficiency of boilers, water heating, fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions. The EPC is valid for 10 years. This valuable piece of paper tells a prospective homeowner or renter just how efficient the property is and how much it is likely to cost to run.
Unless you live in a relatively new built home it is unlikely your home will receive an A rated energy certificate. Here are some ways you can improve your energy efficiency and home comfort.
A well insulated home needs less energy to heat it and therefore produces fewer CO2 emissions. The relatively low cost of better insulation will quickly pay for itself through lower utility bills. Typically half the heat loss of the average home escapes through the walls and loft space, so lay loft insulation that is at lease 270mm deep – this can reduce your heating costs by around 15% per year. Cavity wall insulation could reduce your heating costs by 60%. If you are adding an extension, you could reduce draughts and heat loss simply by insulating the floor.
Upgrading to a high efficiency condensing boiler could reduce your heating bills by one third per year. Malcolm Farrow of OFTEC recently commented “the cost of upgrading a boiler is still out of reach for many homes.” However you can make sure the boiler and heating system you have is running as efficiently as possible by bleeding radiators and having your heating system regularly serviced.
Additional information is available from www.oftec.org.
Smarter Use of Electricity
Power NI and ESB both offer initiatives which will reduce the cost of your energy bills. With a NightSaver meter (ROI) savings if you maximise the use of electricity during the lower-cost NightSaver hours – the rates are 47% less than the standard 24 hour rate. In NI, the Power NI monthly saver option allows you to pay an agreed amount by direct debit every month and get 4% discount.
Old windows can become draughty and if you can afford to, you should look at replacing them or at least upgrading the glass and seals. Double glazing cuts the heat loss through windows by nearly half.
Efficient Window Blinds
It can sometimes be difficult to strike a balance between function and design when choosing fabrics and window treatments for your home, and this is probably more apparent during winter. We are becoming increasingly eco-aware too which adds another dimension to the dilemma. The solution could be cellular blinds. Not only are they extremely insulating at night which is ideal for winter, but they also absorb sound, so are perfect for open-plan spaces. They also stack extremely neatly during the day so you will receive maximum solar gain, which will impact positively on your energy bills! With various styles and colours available you are sure to find something to complement your room style.
Checklist for winter-proofing your home
Each year insurance companies deal with tens of thousands of weather-related claims including storm damage, freezing pipes, falling trees and aerials, lightening and floods. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of making a claim and also improve your energy efficiency:
- Replace cracked or broken tiles and cracks in the chimney
- Clear the gutters and drain pipes
- Secure gates and outbuilding doors
- Check external light fittings are secure
- Have your boiler serviced and check all heating systems are working safely
- Check cavity wall insulation. This will help retain heat in your home
- Switch the central heating timer so that it comes on for at least one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, and turn the temperature down by one or two degrees. This will keep the house at a reasonable temperature when you are there, and also reduce your use of energy
- If you are away during the winter, set the heating to at least 10 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing.
For more information on energy saving, grants and schemes:
www.epb.dfpni.gov.uk (NI only)
www.est.org.uk (NI only)
www.powerni.co.uk (NI only)
www.sei.ie (ROI only)
www.powerofone.ie (ROI only)
Free tickets to Love Your Home Show Belfast
Get FREE tickets to the new Love Your Home Show, Belfast. The Love Your Home Show 2018, created for home lovers will take place in the Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast 12th-14th October 2018.