10 steps to Cut your Energy Bills in an Older House

These are 10 steps if your Electricity Bills are out of control in a house which has not yet been renovated. They are the "low hanging fruit". The aim is to get you started and seeing good results in a short period without too much long-term work.

 

If your house is currently not insulated, and you have not optimised your electricity bill, savings of 40-50% or more may be achievable.

 

Here with go with the first 10 steps, which can be done then left alone for some time - ignoring major investments like new windows and doors, and major or very detailed projects. 

 

1 - Set some realistic targets and monitoring - I suggest, over 3 years:

 

Year 1: Minus 20% on current bill.

Year 2: Minus 33% on current bill.

Year 3: Minus 40% on current bill.

 

Record and monitor usage at some regularity ,whether weekly, monthly or quarterly. Perhaps a thread on BH or a blog post. For performance and encouragement.

 

If you want to monitor your whole house supply, there are also meters where a sensor clamps around the main supply cable and transmits to a meter inside your house. These have been around for a long time, and the best known is by a brand called OWL.

 

Suggest in addition to your meter and a couple of plug meters, one of those Owls or similar that clamps on the supply - use it to check which of your four buildings uses most. If nobody else can, I can lend you one - I think.

 

Remember to keep looking for the big targets.

 

2 - Check the balance vs payment numbers.

 

Is there a big credit on the account if you are on monthly payments. Can you get 10% off the monthly charge with a phone call just by challenging it?  This will need a repeat check as your usage falls fsater than they notice.

 

3 - Change tariff.

 

Savings on the first switch seem to be 20-30% for most I have seen try it.

 

I use MSE Cheap Energy Club, and have it set to warn me when I can save >£150 per year. That prompts action, but does not annoy me every month.

 

Consider a longer term fixed tariff from a decent big supplier of energy, rather than a bust-every-3-months minnow.

 

4 - Get the stuff other people will do for free.

 

Call someone like the Energy Saving Trust, and see what is available in your area. For example:

 

a - 250mm insulation in loft. I can still get this.

b - Cavity wall insulation? I know someone who had this last year.

 

5 - Replace all your lightbulbs with LEDs.

 

Payback time may be around a year. Especially any of those 300W or 500W outside floods.

 

6- Are there any visible holes?

 

For example, light through gaps round outside doors, catflaps etc. Block 'em up with traditional draught remedies, and keep the cat in the shed, with a catflap there.

 

7 - i s your roof space well sealed from the main area of the house.

 

For example, is your loft hatch sealed and insulated? New insulated ones are cheap.

 

You will need this in place for a Positive Input Ventilation fan to work successfully.

 

8 - Do your extract fans have backdraft shutters?

 

If not, switch them over. From about £30.

 

9 - If you have trickle vents, then replace them (foam them up) with proper controlled ventilation.

 

 Use a PIV in the house, and trickle /boost extract fans to keep it flowing. That is what I usually do in rentals and have now done at home. Works and gives some control for £400-£750.

 

10 - Use spot heaters that heat People not Rooms

 

Can you tweak the heating in your garage or shed, by using spot radiant heaters rather than heating the whole thing?

 

eg For our childrens play area at the gym we have one of these: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Eterna-Quartz-Radiant-Mounted-600watt/dp/B00F2H1WF8 . Costs <£30.

 

Bonus 11 - Over time work on the strategic stuff as you are able - underfloor insulation, 2G, dry lining, thermal survey etc. And also the tactical stuff - replacing appliances, finding small but constant loads.

 

Turn it all the way to 12, and beat Spinal Tap  - Plan a big treat with some of the savings. This may help convince the rest of your household that it is worth persevering.

 

Wrapping Up

 

I hope that this brief guide will get you started on some of the more straightforward and easier things you can do to cut your bills, without having too much hard slog to achieve noticeable results quickly.

 

If you have any questions, join Buildhub and start a thread on the main forum, or comment below.

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