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Saving Money, Saving Carbon: Home Energy

Jemima Parker

Chair, Zero Carbon Harrogate

Many of us have never paid that much attention to how we use energy at home. For decades, relatively low electricity, gas and oil prices have meant that many have not had to. With the global energy crisis all that has changed, and, just as we might carefully compare prices at the supermarket and be bargain hunting bloodhounds, being your own energy efficiency expert is coming into vogue.

A typical UK house uses 26,000 kWh of energy and emits 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. We’re keen to help everyone reduce their energy use: at home, at work and when travelling. Domestic energy use contributes about a quarter of Harrogate District’s total carbon footprint. To cut this impact we need to both increase our local clean energy generation and reduce our demand for energy, using what we have more efficiently.

Heating makes up the largest chunk of our energy bills. After two massive increases in fuel prices, here as some simple actions you can take to cut energy use and stay warm.

The more space you heat the more energy you will use. Try to spend most of your time at home in fewer rooms. Close the door, and turn the radiators down in other rooms. Choose a sunny spot if you can, solar gain can make a big difference in room temperature (think greenhouse!).

Review your thermostat settings. How long do you need the heating on for? Try turning the heating off an hour or so before you go out or go to bed.

How low can you go? Set your thermostat to the lowest temperature that you can tolerate in your home and make friends with your wardrobe of jumpers, vests, rugs, slippers etc.

Turning your thermostat down by 1oC can save you £160 a year on your energy bills according to The Energy Saving Trust and cut your emission by between 100-250kg of carbon dioxide a year.

If you regularly sit in one room for long periods, eg working form home, use a small electric heater in the room you are using rather than heating the whole house (hot water bottles are good too!)

If you get cold sitting still for prolonged periods, get up and do some warming up jobs such as the washing up or do star jumps or climb the stairs to get your circulation going and warm up!

If you have a combi boiler you might want to look at the temperature settings of the central heating (flow rate). Many are set way beyond their efficiency temperature on installation and never changed. Try reducing to around 50oC, which will allow the boiler to condensate, making it much more efficient and saving you gas.

Keeping all radiators free of dust, especially on the fins and an adequate distance from furniture (which could be preventing the heat to get to the room). Don’t waste energy heating the back of the sofa.

Try to keep the heat in your home. Don’t spend money heating your street up. Don’t open windows unnecessarily. If someone comes to the front door, either invite them in or step outside to speak to them. Don’t leave the door open letting all your heat escape.

In older houses with wooden window frames and external doors simple DIY draught excluders can greatly reduce heat loss and are a fairly simple DIY job.

Next month we will look at what you could do make your home more efficient in order to make your home easier to heat in the longer term. For more information visit and


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