Real tips to save energy, save money and keep well…
“There is lots of advice given over social media about saving energy, but not all of it is correct, and some just repeats old myths. One is that most of your body’s heat escapes through your head. It doesn’t! Only about 10% is lost through your head. Wearing a hat is a good idea but more important to wear layers of clothing.”
Says Island resident and National Heat Hero, Ray Harrington-Vail, who works for the local Footprint Trust charity.
Another one is that most of the heat escapes from the roof or windows of your home, both wrong. Walls account for around 33% of heat loss, roof about 26% and windows around 18%. Good idea to insulate the whole house to really save money, the cost paid back in 5 years. Double glazing a good idea but payback will take much longer, but will also make your home more secure.
The debate about what temperature to keep your home is repeated every winter. Ideally you should try and keep some heating in all rooms, this helps prevent damp. But if you are on a limited budget then this is unrealistic.
If you are fit and young then the NHS suggests that you do not need to keep your home at a minimum of 18C. In fact they suggest your children’s bedroom should be between 16C and 20C. Young children and babies can be put in danger from overheating. The NHS comments on the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, “Babies don’t need hot rooms. All-night heating is rarely necessary. Keep the room at a temperature that’s comfortable for you at night – about 18C (65F) is ideal.”
For older people or for those with medical issues then keeping their living space and bedroom between 18C and 21C is recommended.
Lock the heat into your living space and bedroom, don’t waste money heating the hall or corridor. Keep doors closed.
For rooms not being used, then keep the heat on low, leave cupboard doors and drawers slightly open to allow air-flow. Try to open the window for a 10 minutes every day, to ventilate vacant rooms.
Ventilation must also be thought of to reduce infection levels in the home from flu or air-borne viruses such as Covid. Regular airing of inhabited rooms by opening windows for short periods of time can be effective at reducing concentrations of viruses in the air. SAGE have suggested having them open for 10 minutes every hour.
If you have gas central heating use it, don’t be fooled by marketing spin that electric heating is cheaper, it isn’t. Likewise with Night Storage Heaters, don’t use more expensive stand-alone heaters, and avoid unvented portable gas heaters. Get a carbon monoxide alarm for each room with a gas appliance, boiler or sold fuel burner. Have you boiler serviced every year to keep you safe, save energy and to make it last longer.
Some of grandma’s old tips are as relevant today as they were yesterday. So closing thick curtains at dusk will help prevent heat loss through windows. We now also have the option of fitting much cheaper thermal blackout blinds, which can be purchase from a number of on-line retailers. Charity shops can be a good place to find thick curtains when they reopen. Making a ‘door sausage’ to prevent draughts from blowing under your door is a winner. These can be made from a leg of an old pair of jeans or trousers, then stuffed with other old rags.
The Footprint Trust tells hundreds of Islanders every year about the £140 Warm Home Discount. Those receiving guarantee pension credit automatically get this sum taken off their electricity bill, providing they are with a leading supplier. Other householders have to apply to their energy company. So important to contact your utility company and see if you qualify.
Other free help is also available from water and energy companies through their Priority Services Register. This is for any household that has a vulnerable person living there. In the event of power or water failure you will be contacted to see if you need help. This can be done on line; https://www.ssen.co.uk/psr/southernwater/ or by phone on 0800 294 3259.
The Footprint Trust charity has been helping local people throughout the pandemic via its helpline on 822282. They have provided over £10,000 worth of grants to help people with energy issues.
Their work is funded by a number of bodies including; The National Lottery Community Fund, Energy Industry Voluntary Redress Scheme, HM Government and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation. Individual donations and those from the business community have also assisted their work.