Information Unlimited: No 4 - Conserving energy

All the Facts You Need to Avoid Heartache

IT MAY seem a little premature to start considering winter fuel bills in August but nearly 70 per cent of householders in the United Kingdom have never attempted to conserve energy. The Energy Savings Trust estimates about pounds 6.5bn is wasted annually on energy: the equivalent of pounds 278 per household.

Insulation

Uninsulated lofts lose about 25 per cent of household heat through the roof. Install 6in of insulating material and save at least pounds 60 a year.

Draughty windows allow up to 10 per cent of heat to escape. Double glazing reduces loss by up to 50 per cent but it is cheaper to tape polythene across the inside of the window frames.

Up to 15 per cent of heat is lost through outside doors, skylights and letterboxs. Draught excluders can save up to pounds 20 on your annual fuel bill.

Up to 15 per cent of heat can be lost through the ground floor of a building. Insulating under the floorboards with old newspapers can save up to pounds 25 a year.

Up to 35 per cent of lost heat is through walls. If your home was built after the Thirties you probably have cavity walls which you can fill. It needs to be done professionally and costs around pounds 400 but it can save you up to pounds 150 on your annual bill.

Most materials can be bought from DIY stores but some suppliers specialise in environmentally friendly materials. Association for Environmentally Conscious Builders 01559 370908; Construction Resources (eco-friendly alternative insulation materials supplier) 0171 450 2211; Glass and Glazing Federation 0171 403 7177; Draught Proofing Advisory Association, National Association of Loft Insulation Contractors, External Wall Insulation Association and National Cavity Insulation Association all on 01428 654011.

Central heating

Hot water tanks should be fitted with a good insulation jacket. They cost from pounds 10 and can save up to pounds 15 a year.

Upgrade your central heating system controls - room thermostats, thermostatic radiator valves, timer/programmers. It costs about pounds 180 but savings can be up to pounds 100 per year.

Turning down the temperature on the thermostat by 1 per cent can save up to pounds 25 a year.

Putting a layer of aluminium foil behind your radiators will reflect heat back into the room and save you up to pounds 10.

Lined curtains can help stop heat loss through windows.

Electricity

Lighting accounts for 10-15 per cent of the electricity bill so turn lights off.

The television and stereo use as much electricity on standby as when working so turn them off if you are not using them.

Use washing machines at lower temperatures.

Fit energy-saving light bulbs.

Safety tips

Ventilation is just as important as insulation, and is essential if you have solid fuel fires, gas fires or an open-flue boiler.

Condensation is more likely to occur after draught proofing.

With any DIY, read instructions carefully and make sure you have the correct installation equipment. Be careful.

For major jobs chose a professional installer registered with an appropriate body.

Advice and grants

The Home Energy Efficiency scheme funded by the Department of the Environment gives grants of up to pounds 315. To qualify you must be on benefit or over 60. Call 0800 072 0150

The Energy Efficiency Advice Centre Hotline on 0345 277 200 (http://www.est.org.uk) provides a DIY Home Energy Check pack and until 30 September they can give information on the Marks and Spencer shopping voucher worth pounds 100 towards cavity wall insulation.

Help The Aged's "Keep Warm, Keep Well" booklet has information on energy efficiency grants; 0171 253 0253.

Customers of any gas company are entitled to free advice on using gas efficiently. Call Ofgas on 0171 828 0898.

London Electricity on 0181 535 0000 offers telephone assessment of homes and advice.

The Council for Energy Efficiency Development on 01428 654011(e-mail theceed@compuserve.com) provides an information pack on energy efficiency measures and an energy rating of your home.

Gas Consumers Council offers free advice on 0171 931 0977.

Centre for Alternative Technology on 01654 702400 offers advice on eco- friendly alternatives measures.

National Energy Services Ltd offers a home energy ratingfrom pounds 40-100. Call 01908 672787.

`Women Unlimited - The Directory for Life' is published by Penguin at pounds 9.99

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