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Energy - Efficiency Advice and Assessment

Big improvements to energy efficiency in your home can be made quickly and cheaply by eliminating unnecessary heat loss by using draught proofing materials such as draught proofing strips and temporary "plastic film" secondary glazing products.

They can improve internal temperature levels and lower your energy bills. To really make a difference consider a combination of measures such as insulating your roof space with at least 270mm of insulation quilt, insulate external cavity walls and draught proof doors and windows where you can. There are many companies offering this service with appropriate accreditation.

Reducing your space and water heating costs can be grouped into three general categories:

No cost

· If you have a room thermostat, turn it down by one or two degrees. This can make up to a 10% saving on your heating bill over a period of a year without a noticeable change in room temperature.

· Close the curtains to your living room and bedrooms as soon as it gets dark to reduce heat loss through the windows. Heavy or lined curtains are best. Annual savings are approximately £15.

· Ensure that your curtains do not lie over the top of the radiators. Heat rises up into the space between them and the window and some of this heat will be lost through the glass.

· Do not overfill kettles and remember to put lids onto pans when heating water.

· Keep doors to unheated rooms closed so that at least one living room is warm.

Low cost

· Fit shelf deflectors above radiators and reflectors panels behind the radiators to throw heat forward into the room.

· Fit compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in rooms instead of standard bulbs. Although these lamps are more expensive to buy initially they last approximately 8-10 times longer than a normal bulb and some even quote a 12 year life! Typically, a 20 watt CFL has the light output of a 100 Watt incandescent bulb and they use 60-80% less electricity. CFLs are also ideal for outside security lights which are left on over night (they are not suitable for movement detector type security lighting or for dimmer switches).

· Do not forget to switch off lights when you leave a room and remember, if you leave the TV and video on standby they will still use some electricity.

· Check that your hot water cylinder, if your heating system has one, has a good thick jacket and that it is well fitting. Heat loss from an uninsulated hot water cylinder can be substantial. A good insulation jacket is relatively cheap and quickly pays for itself in energy saved.

· Fit temperature controls to radiators (TRVs) and save up to £40 a year.

· Fit simple draught excluders to doors and windows. It can save you up to £25 a year. Note: Do not block ventilation that has been specifically provided for fuel burning appliances such as gas fires, boilers etc as this can create a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ideas with a pay-back period usually less than five years

· Insulate your loft with at least 270mm of insulation.

· Cavity insulate your walls where applicable. Up to 35% of all heat lost is through the walls. Savings are generally between £75 - £150 a year. You may qualify for a grant toward the cost of these measures - ring your local Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre (Greater Manchester ESTac).

· A heating boiler more than 15 years old will be much less efficient than a modern one, typically only 60% efficient. When the time comes to replace it with a high efficiency modern design, typically 90% efficient or higher, you could save up to 30% on your heating bill. A saving of £100 - £200 a year. Buy an "A" class energy rated boiler if you can!

· If you fit timers and thermostats to your central heating and hot water system you can save up to £85 a year through better control of your heating system.

Energy performance certificates (EPC's)

All new houses and apartments and non domestic buildings are required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) upon completion of the work and this must be passed to the new owner. 

Buildings modified to form houses, apartments  and other non domestic buildings are also required to provide an Energy Performance Certificate where the modification involves the provision or extension of heating, hot water, air conditioning or mechanical ventilation services.

How are Building Regulations affected?

Building Control are not able to issue a completion certificate, for non-domestic buildings or dwellings created as new build or a change of use, unless it is satisfied that a developer has obtained an appropriate EPC and declares, by way of a notice, that this has been or will be passed on to the new owner.

EPC's also include a recommendation report  on how further energy improvements could be made which is seen as an important contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Large buildings accessible to the public

All large buildings (over 1000m2 in total useful floor area) occupied by public authorities, or providing services to the public, such as leisure centres, municipal buildings, hospitals and so on, must display a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) which must be on view to all who use the building.

Who provides an EPC?

EPC's can only be obtained from qualified energy assessors who are registered on an approved accreditation scheme. EPC's look similar to those currently used for certain types of energy using appliances such as cookers and fridges. More information is available on the Communities and Local Government website.