Ask the expert: Energy saving tips for the home
Paul Roebuck’s team designs improvements to the mechanical and electrical engineering systems in our schools, libraries, museums and other buildings. Paul also introduces changes to make public buildings more energy efficient. Here he explains how you can apply some of his techniques to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Of all the things you do, what makes the biggest energy saving?
Changing the behaviour of the people in a building makes a massive difference. I have seen energy use in some buildings reduce by 15% after simply changing habits - making sure occupants turn off lights and equipment and shut doors, for example. This works in homes too of course, especially where TVs are being left on standby!
Are there other ways to save energy at home?
If you already have good energy habits, improving the building is the next consideration. Check that the roof and walls of your home are well insulated and consider low energy lighting, draught proofing, double glazing and an efficient heating system. If radiators have individual thermostats, try turning these down in rooms which are unoccupied and closing the door. These are some of the first things we check when improving a public building.
How do you know when energy is being wasted?
Council buildings and schools have ‘smart meters’ which record energy use regularly throughout the day. We interpret the data from the smart meters to find out which activities and systems are using the most energy and when.
Most people’s homes do not have smart meters but you can buy a small device called an energy monitor to help you work out which of your appliances uses most energy. Sometimes old appliances are very inefficient and replacing them will save you money.
Are solar panels a good way to save money on energy?
Using renewable energy, such as solar panels, does save money in the long term. However, it is very expensive to install so it’s sensible to make all the low-cost changes you can first.
Where can I find out more about energy saving?
More information about saving energy at home is available from the Energy Saving Trust.