Increases to prices and the cost-of-living are affecting us all. With energy costs soaring and inflation making everyday items increasingly expensive, it’s more important now than ever to understand the ways we can reduce our outgoings, and to be aware of the sources of support that are available that can help.
It’s not always easy to make energy-saving changes to your home – the upfront cost of things like insulation, replacing inefficient boilers and new double-glazing are simply not an option for many of us right now.
The Scottish Government introduced the Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing (EESSH) in 2014, with efforts making homes in the social rented sector some of the most energy efficient in Scotland, with 85% already achieving EPC D rating or above.
In 2019, 62% of homes were owner-occupied, of which only 42% were Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C or better (Source: Energy efficiency in homes – Energy efficiency – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)).
What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
An EPC provides information about the energy efficiency rating of a property and suggestions for cost effective energy saving improvements. When you buy a property, you will get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) free of charge. An advert to sell a property must include EPC information. This offers an efficiency rating on a scale of A-G – the closer to ‘A’ being more energy efficient.
So, how can we make the most of our energy?
With increases to the cost of energy already in place, and further increases expected moving into the winter months and beyond, there are things that we can do to help reduce our energy usage and save money. Many of us are already doing what we can to reduce what we are spending on energy, including switching lights off when we are not using them, but there are other things that we can do that can help. These practical efforts cost very little and can help us make the most of our energy heading towards the end of 2022.
Adjustments That Won’t Cost You a Thing
- Keep the heat in – Something as small as keeping the doors closed keeps the warm current created by our radiators and heaters where it’s supposed to and can reduce the amount of cold air entering the room.
- Avoid unnecessary energy usage – Only heating our homes when we need to can help us save more money in the long run. Depending on how effective our insulation is, small amounts of energy escape our homes constantly; so, if the heating is on all day, we are effectively losing energy all day.
- Bleeding radiators – Bleeding radiators regularly can help to improve their energy efficiency; air can become trapped inside and leave cold spots in radiators which makes the heating system less efficient overall. If radiators are taking longer than usual to heat up or if we can feel cold patches at the top, that is when we know we need to bleed them.
- Microwave cooking – This is perhaps not ideal for cooking our three course Sunday lunch but using a microwave rather than an oven for certain foods can use less energy as they only heat the food itself rather than the air around it.
- Appliance considerations – Appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers usually have ‘eco mode’ which make them operate at lower speeds and temperatures. Filling them to the max when we use them as well as using ‘eco mode’ might not be the best way to wash our dirty rugby kit, but for the everyday it uses less energy than a quick wash, (sometimes up to 50%).
- Kettle capacity – Lastly, small but mighty, the kettle uses a surprising amount of energy per use. Boiling the kettle for only as much water as we’re going to use could save us pounds throughout the year.
- Thermostatic radiator valves – These are an extra control we can use to heat individual rooms in our homes rather than the whole house at once. Easy and inexpensive, we can use them to set the temperature of each room by stopping water flow to specific radiators and having our heating on a timer means we can control when it comes on and what temperature suits best. Heating engineers can fit these valves and reaching out to two or three potential contractors can help us find a competitive quote.
- Heat rises – Fixing a shelf a little above a radiator can help prevent heat from rising, especially if our homes have high ceilings, and can help keep the warmth closer to the ground.
- Curtains – Lining curtains with cheap fleece blankets can help insulate the room against the cold air.
Support is available for those who need it!
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, it is important to reach out to your energy supplier as soon as possible – they should do everything they can to support you – whether that be through the set-up of a payment plan suitable to your situation, or providing access to hardship funds you may be eligible for.
Advice Direct Scotland provide other sources of support to Scottish citizens to help with the cost of living and can help get us back on track with our finances.
Hazel Knowles, Energy Team Lead at Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“In situations that seem impossible, reaching out for support is important.
“The Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund offers a vital lifeline to Scottish energy customers who are struggling with energy costs, many of whom are already self-rationing energy to get-by.
“Getting our finances under control can be difficult when we do so alone and reaching out for help is important.
energyadvice.scot provide free, practical advice and information on energy-related matters to the citizens of Scotland and can answer energy-related enquiries. Our specialist advisers are available on 0808 196 8660 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), or through the website.
The Scottish Government’s Home Heating Support Fund seeks to provide financial relief to energy consumers who are experiencing significant financial hardship and strives to provide this support to households regardless of the fuel or payment method used. You can find more about the fund by visiting the website at https://homeheatingadvice.scot/
moneyadvice.scot provide free information and support on a wide-range of debt-related issues. Our specialist debt advisers can work with you to assess your current situation, look at your income and expenditure and decide what to do next. You can call the team on 0808 196 2316 (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm), or visit https://moneyadvice.scot/for more information.
More advice on energy efficiency
Home Energy Scotland offer free, impartial advice on energy saving, keeping warm at home, renewable energy, greener travel cutting water waste and more. They are funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Energy Saving Trust, with a mission of helping people in Scotland create wamer homes, reduce their bills and help tackle climate change.