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Energy efficiency in the home

Key points

  • You can tell how efficient a product is by checking its energy label. They're rated on a scale from A+++ to G
  • While energy efficient products may be more expensive in the short term, they could help you to save money on bills in the long term
  • Switching off unused electrical items, being conservative with water usage and investing in home improvements can all help to improve energy efficiency

We can all take responsibility for how much energy we use in our homes.

One of the ways we can do this is by being mindful of our own energy-draining bad habits, such as leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms or turning up the central heating instead of putting on a jumper.

Another way is to invest in appliances that offer optimum home energy efficiency.

So how can you be sure that you're choosing the most energy efficient products, and are there any other simple things you can do to make your home as energy efficient as possible?

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is all about getting the most from the appliances and gadgets you use in your home, while using the least amount of energy possible.

It's easy to find out how energy efficient home appliances are, thanks to the EU energy efficiency labels that retailers are legally required to display on appliances in their shops and online stores.

Products that must be displayed with an energy efficiency label range from ovens, showers and dishwashers to televisions and vacuum cleaners (for a more comprehensive list, check out the European Union's official guide to energy labels). Gas and electricity

These labels provide an overall rating for the related product's energy efficiency, ranging from A+++ for the most energy efficient products to G for the least energy efficient products.

They also include details of the annual energy consumption you can expect for the product you're buying, as well as product specific information relating to issues such as noise levels and water consumption.

The benefits of being energy efficient

Making your home as energy efficient as possible means you'll be reducing your household's impact on the environment - something we should all be striving for.

But that's not all, energy efficient homeowners can also expect to see significant savings on their utility bills.

This is important to take into account when buying new appliances for your home.

Products with a higher energy efficiency rating will often come with a higher price tag.

However, when you consider how often you use certain electrical items in your house (fridges, ovens and washing machines, for example), the savings on bills you'll make by opting for energy efficient products over those with a low energy efficiency rating could easily outweigh the increased upfront cost.

How to be more energy efficient at home

Choosing energy efficient products is only the beginning when it comes to making savings on your household bills.

Check out the energy efficiency tips below for some other things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and keep utility costs to a minimum.

Did you know...?

  • Smart thermostats allow you to control your heating via a mobile app, meaning you can manage the temperature of your home wherever you are

Stop using standby mode

Rather than cutting off their electrical supply when you've finished using them, many appliances and gadgets will go into standby mode.

While the energy use of products on standby is low, leaving unused items in this low power mode will still contribute to your bills.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that most people could save £30 per year simply by remembering to switch appliances off instead of leaving them in standby mode.

If you're not sure whether a product is in standby or not, turning it off at the plug will do the trick.

Do note that some products will need to remain switched on, such as fridge freezers and digital TV recorders. Check the instructions if you aren't sure.

Be wary of water usage

Reducing the amount of water you use at home could result in some big energy savings.

There are numerous simple things you can do to cut down on water usage - get a bowl for your kitchen sink to reduce the amount of water you use when you're washing up, measure the right amount of water for your kettle to avoid boiling excessive amounts for your cuppa, or time yourself in the shower to avoid both wrinkly fingers and unnecessarily expensive water bills.

With a water meter installed, these little changes could add up to some significant savings.

Bigger changes, bigger savings

The more committed you are to energy efficiency, the greater the rewards will be.

If you're ready to take your energy savings to the next level, consider getting your home draught-proofed.

Blocking the cracks and spaces in windows, doors, floors and skirting boards could help you save on your heating bill.

Insulating your walls, loft and roof could lead to even greater savings.

To gain extra control of your heating, you might also choose to invest in a smart heating control.

These devices, which allow you to control your heating via a mobile app, mean you can manage the temperature of your home wherever you are

 Leading smart thermostat provider Hive claims that this innovation helps to save its customers up to £130 per year on heating bills.

Finally, generating your own energy via a renewable technology means you'll produce your own electricity, reducing your bills as a result.

You could even earn some extra dosh by exporting the excess energy you generate - check out our guide to feed-in tariffs for more info on this.

By Matt Ayres