Energy Efficient Wind Farm

Ways to Improve Home Energy Efficiency

There are many ways to improve on home energy efficiency. Some of the ways are explained below.

1. Insulation

By Insulating home ceilings, attic, floors and walls, draughts and air leakages are prevented ensuring colder summers and warm winters.
Wall insulation; up to 40% of energy lost is through un-insulated walls. Save up to £200 a year and reduce carbon emissions by filling cavity walls.
Insulation by filling cavity walls can be expensive more so if your property is big it is therefore advised to check on available offers and grants before insulating. Also, bear in mind that these offers differ depending on geographical area and income levels.
Loft insulation; poorly insulated roofs and walls can lead to wastage of up to £600 million in a year by pumping heat into the house which escapes due to poor insulation. Loft insulation minimizes this.
Double glazing windows; With double glazed windows, more heat is trapped inside the house thus less pumping of additional heat thereby increased savings on energy.
Double glazing takes care of different preferences since it comes in different styles tailored to suite your home. Before purchase, ensure the windows have a seal of approval from ‘energy saving trust’ an indication of more energy efficiency.
Sealing Draughts and air leakages; Leakages may occur in; electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, attic hatches, fireplace dampers and baseboards among other areas. Repairs and maintenance is therefore encouraged so as to reduce energy wasted and increase home comfortability. Consider the following simple energy saving practices;

  • Plugging large holes; mostly where the walls meet the attic floor
  • Doing weather-stripping i.e. using fiberglass or foam board to seal the attic access panel
  • Sealing small holes; e.g. around pipes, electrical wires and plumbing vents with the help of caulk or expanding foam

Revamping windows; this can be through;

  • Opening blinds; opened blinds allow natural light into the house. Use of sun light during the day saves on lighting costs and is absolutely free.
  • Multiple panes; double/triple argon gas-filled windows are very effective insulators
  • Also consider weather-stripping between the windows and the frame
  • Replace single pane windows with storm windows. Also those with damaged wood, cracked glass and missing putty should be replaced or repaired.
  • Window edges and cracks can also be sealed with caulk. This is an easy, effective and a very cheap method.
  • Replacing aluminium window frames with vinyl frames as aluminium allows easy heat transfer
  • Tinting windows; to keep out unwanted heat, light and even cold

2. Use of energy efficient bulbs

Almost 15%-20% of home energy is attributed to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights wasted up to 90% of energy by overheating converting only 10% to light. Too much heat emitted causes low lifespan and uncomfortable home environment resulting to additional room conditioning thereby increased additional costs.
Innovation and technology has led to production of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) which are more energy efficient compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. Other facts on LEDs and CFLs include;

  • Long lasting with reduced amounts of energy consumption
  • Energy saving of up to 80% compared to traditional incandescent bulbs
  • Also Cost effective due to savings made by resulting long life batteries and 3-way settings that replaced the 40 watts, 60 watts and 75 watts.

3. Electrical appliances

Before using any electrical appliance, ensure you have familiarized yourself with how it operates by going through its manual. After that, by using it only when necessary, a lot of energy will be saved.
It is advisable to use efficient electrical appliances so as to cut down on wastage. If you take a fridge for example, its running costs vary from £10 to around £100 depending on how energy efficient it is. Always consider the use of freezers with ‘an energy efficient setting’ as ideal and recommended models.
Consequently using electrical appliances responsibly is highly desirable. Consider the following;

  • Not placing refrigerators in warm areas e.g. near stoves or heat vents as this will lead to more energy consumption in order to remain cool.
  • According to research, computers account for approximately 5% of consumed energy. To reduce this, computers when not in use, should be shut down. Also laptop computers consume relatively less energy compared to desktop computers therefore there use should be upheld to that of desktops.
  • Always use energy star rated appliances I.e. TVs, home theatre systems and players.
  • Unplug phone chargers and laptop chargers when not in use since they consume and waste energy when plugged in.

Also old electrical appliances are inefficient and consume more energy compared to newer models. Replacing them will mean more energy saved in the long run thus reduced power bills. The most recommended appliances to replace include; old model freezers, dishwashers, washing machines and dehumidifiers.

4. Use of daylight

Daylight, which is free and natural light, can be a very good alternative to electrical lighting. Interior home illumination by use of daylight can be achieved through;

  • Use of light tubes; light tubes have a lens that amplifies low level light. The tubes also contain reflective materials for channeling light to where desired and a diffuser for distribution.
  • Clerestory windows; short wide windows set very high on the wall allowing sunshine into the room.
  • Also double pane skylights and light shelves that reflect light back into the room.

5. Cooking smart

When cooking, a lot of energy is wasted. To cut down on this wastage, the following is recommended;

  • Use of convection ovens instead of conventional ovens; convection ovens use fans that forces hot air to circulate evenly enabling cooking at low temperatures thus less energy. Compared to conventional ovens, they use 25% less heat energy
  • While cooking with conventional ovens, it is recommended to place food on the top rack which is usually hotter for faster cooking.
  • Always consider the microwave oven option as they consume more than 80% less of the energy compared to conventional ovens.
  • For quick cooking, always cover food with lids or use pressure cookers
  • The size of cooking pans should be proportional to the flame. I.e. large flames for larger pans.

6. Use of cheaper energy tariffs

Cheaper tariffs mean more savings which can be used for making your home more energy efficient. Some companies, through tariff offers ensure much is saved on energy consumption.
Green energy tariff offer by various companies mean that for any power consumed, there is a contribution from the renewable sources of grid.

7. Use of solar panels

The advantage of a solar panel is that it enables you to generate own power for consumption. The excess power generated or power not utilized at some given time can be sold back to the national grid via a feed in tariff.
Sometimes solar generated energy is used to heat water in tanks thereby reducing the overall cost of power bills. Actually more than 50% of home energy can be generated by solar panels.
The cost of solar panels depends on the size and the amount of energy they generate. A standard one costs around £13000 but some companies offer free panels in exchange of the income generated by selling excess power to the energy grid.
Due to rising fraudulent claims, ensure your panel is approved by the energy savings trust and also exercise caution before power sales to the national grid.

8. Be keen on your energy consumption

Energy monitors, when placed where everyone can see them, indicate the cost of energy consumed. This always is a good reminder to cut back. Most of them are given for free by energy companies or purchased for around £ 40
According to research and statistics, having an energy monitor can help save up to £100 a year by cutting back on consumption.

9. Installing tank-less water heaters

Turning on a hot water tap enables tank-less water heaters to heat water directly without using a storage tank. Cold water passes through a heating unit where it is heat enabling continuous supply of warm/hot water. With tank-less water heating systems, energy losses associated with old storage water heaters is reduced.

10. Water saving shower-head

A lot of water and energy is used by inefficient shower-heads. Actually it has been established that some shower-heads use more water in four minutes that a whole bath. Also if much time is spent on soaping while under torrent of hot/warm water, then off course you are using a lot of energy. Low flow shower-heads which are usually encouraged have a pause button to enable soaping up. They also come with different water flow rates.

11. Eco friendly kettles

Although the initial cost is expensive, a lot of energy will be saved by this type of kettle in the long run. Also by using the kettle to your standard e.g. not boiling a kettle full of water while you only need a cup for tea, cuts down on wastage.

12. Important laundry measures

Laundry machines, if not utilized properly, can cause a lot of energy wastage. When doing your laundry, keep in mind energy conservation methods and practice the following;

  • Wring clothes before putting them back in a dryer. Sometimes consider it necessary to hang clothes on lines.
  • To reduce the amount of time spent on drying clothes, always clean the lint trap before using it
  • Do not use very high temperature settings for cleaning and always start cleaning when you have a full clothes load.

13. Use of Thick curtains

Thicker curtains are considered the simplest yet the most effective way of preventing heat escaping through windows. During longer nights, they make the home more cozy, warm and well protected from cold.
Doors can be insulated by a cheap stick that runs down the sides of draughty doors. This will reduce draught, add warmth to the home and consequently lead to reduced bills.

14. Upgrade your boiler

Inefficient boilers add up to £200 to your energy bill. In addition, they have higher levels of carbon emissions, which are reduced on upgrading.
A scale of A to G is used in boiler rating with ‘A’ being the most efficient and ‘G’ the least. If yours is at the low end of the scale, upgrading or purchase of a different higher scaled boiler is advised.
Other ways of improving energy efficiency in homes include;

  • Use of ceiling fans in place of air conditioners
  • Replacing air filters in heaters and air conditioners
  • Use of programmed thermostats that allow automatic turn off of electrical appliances when nobody is around. This can save up to £200.
  • If possible employ the use of wood stoves to furnaces and always draw curtains over windows at night for better insulation
  • Heating and cooling only rooms that are occupied and closing vents
  • Planting a deciduous tree that provides shade during hot days and allows sunlight during winter since it’s bare.
  • Keeping water heaters at warm temperatures as opposed to hot temperatures

Practice energy conservation by employing any of the above ways and enjoy home comfortability, increased energy savings, reduced bills and above all take part in reducing the impact of climate change and global warming.

Central Heating

Are Electric Heaters Better Than Central Heating?

Central heating

Central heating comes about when heat to every room in the house (resulting from heating water or air) is distributed from a central heat source.

Note: For a video on how central heating works, check this one out and then come back to continue reading:

Different heat sources that can be used for central heating include; gas boiler, wood pellet boiler, air to water heat pump and diesel boiler among others. Central heating from solar panels is very much possible however more set up costs will be required.
Central heating sources have different features as below;

  • Heated water is passed through underflow pipes into the radiator which thereby reduce heat into the home
  • The heat warms objects within the room passively. You do not need to worry about noisy fans and draughts.
  • When the water is heated up to the required temperature level, the boiler modulates/switches off as heat is evenly emitted from the radiator.
  • Modern central heating systems can produce hot water for domestic consumption. Also, they can heat swimming pools and spas.
  • Should be fitted with a time controller to ensure heat is emitted only when needed and also a thermostat which controls the amount of heat supplied to various rooms.
  • For central heating systems with under-floor pipes, they need to be installed before laying the floor slab.

Before choosing on the type of system to install, bear in mind the system efficiency, cost and the type of material used in constructing your home. Also assess the amount of heat required for desired level heating by calculating the approximate heat energy lost via windows, walls, floors and the ceiling.
After drawing conclusions on the amount of heat required and heat loss assessments, choose the most suitable radiator with pipe lengths and spacing for underground heating with respective boiler for installation (for steam boilers). The installation process should only be undertaken by experienced and qualified professional. For efficiency ensure your system is serviced at least annually.
People prefer central home heating because of the following reasons;

  • Efficiency; Compared to other forms of heating, water systems provide four times the amount of heat produced. Also warm air that runs throughout the building provides even warmth distribution.
  • Convenience; Central heating comes with flexibility of being used anywhere. In rural areas where electricity is a problem, propane can be used as an option. Depending on the type of house, the cost and contractor recommendations, different types of central heating systems can be used.
  • Economical; the initial purchase and installation of the central heating system is quite expensive however the savings made in the long run by using the system are worthwhile and they actually recover the initial costs. Modern heaters are fitted with timers to run only when required and thermostats to regulate heat to required levels. Also system pipes are narrow and can back up heat enabling heated water to remain hot for long periods with minimal energy.
  • Central location; heat from one location is distributed equally enabling even distribution to the entire house. The central location can be a utility room or any safe room. This makes this a very secure and safe way of heating the house
  • Controls; central heating systems have thermostats that are programmed. A thermostat allows even temperature regulation and distribution throughout rooms. The system can be turned off in rooms that heating is not required. Also when the heat reaches desirable levels, the system is programmed to shut down automatically.
  • Sources of heat; Central heating system runs on gas, electricity or solar energy among other sources. All these sources give alternatives to choose from for efficiency, convenience and effectiveness.
  • Environmental friendly; Compared to other forms of heating, gas central heating produces less emissions (water and carbon dioxide) becoming cleaner and more Eco-friendly. The convenience of the gas through a pipe means that large tanks of oil that could leak and poison the ground water are not required.

Despite the above merits, drawbacks of central heating include:

  • Higher installation costs
  • Suitable route has to be established through which pipes will pass
  • The central heating unit needs sufficient space for installation
  • It does not offer flexibility to meet changing heat requirements in terms of resizing or moving components.

Electric heaters

Electric Heating is a process by which electrical energy is converted to heat energy. Usually an electric heater (that uses resistors emitting radiant energy) is used in this conversion process. Common uses of heat energy include; cooking, space heating and water heating among others.
Electric resistors in electric heaters work by joule heating. Modern electric heaters use nichrome wire as heating elements.
Sometimes electric heating can be via heat pumps that use electric motor to draw heat energy from the source and produce up to four units of heating energy from each unit of electricity.
When warming house interiors, various space heating methods can be used as below;

  • Radiative heating; by use of a radiative heater with a heating element resembling a light bulb that emits infra-red radiations which are converted to heat energy and by the help of a reflector, reflected directly to heat people and objects. Radiative heaters, though silent, lack overheat protection thus pose a high risk of causing accidental fires.
  • Convection heating; convection heaters heat air by thermal conduction. Warm air being lighter is displaced by cool air which is heat to also rise due to buoyancy. This process continues thereby creating a convection cycle.To create a heat reservoir, convection heaters are sometimes filled with oil.
  • Fan heating; electric fan heaters used are also called forced convection heaters as they speed up airflow reducing thermal resistance between the heating element and the surrounding. Although they speed up heating, the electric fan produces noise while working.
  • Storage heating system; storage heaters store heat at night then release it during the day when required. It is relatively cheap to acquire a reason why it is branded the name Economy 7 in some parts e.g. the UK

Other methods used for electric heating include; electric arc heating, induction heating, and dielectric heating. Produced heat(by induction or dielectric losses) is transferred by conduction, convection or radiation to the work-piece for heating.
Some people prefer electric heating due to the following reasons;

  • Temperature control; easy room by room temperature control is exhibited by various electric heating methods
  • Cost; compared to other heating systems, electric systems and heaters are cheaper and easy to install.
  • Space; electric heaters occupy relatively little space in the house
  • Clean and quiet; no emissions and sounds produced unless when using electric fan heaters.
  • Environmental friendly; despite noise from electric fan heaters, there are zero emissions (carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide) when this method is used. Also natural resources are preserved as wood and fossil fuel consumption is reduced.

Despite the above merits, electric heating possess some setbacks as below;

  • Operational expenses; electric resistance heaters that are used to heat up the room when used for long time periods make the electricity bill unbearable.Sometimes the bill can be two times that of gas.
  • Inefficiency; although very efficient when different methods are used to generate interior heat for buildings, the efficiency levels drop when supplying power plants are included. I.e. more than ten units of fossil fuel is used to produce less than four units of electricity in a fossil fuelled electricity plant. This could have been more effective and efficient if fossil fuel was burned directly by the consumer to produce heat.
  • When space heaters are used in electric heating, humidification, filtration or cooling cannot easily be provided.
  • Also electric hazards are diverse from shocks to faults that can cause accidental fires making it not a very safe process.

Before settling on the type of home heating method to adopt, it is important to do an in depth analysis of benefits and setbacks that come with each system. Central heating however has proved to be the most preferred method because of variety of systems that come with it, lower operational costs and installations even in rural areas where electricity is a problem.