What is a 'Green Guide?"
We all like to do our bit for the environment, but as household bills rise, there is
now even more reason to reduce the amount of gas, electricity and water we use. Making a few small changes in your home could cut your energy and water bills by around £180 a year - who wouldn’t want that?
Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) has produced this short guide to saving energy and water to help you do just that. It includes tips on improving energy and water efficiency and information about switching energy supplier – hopefully you will soon start making savings on your utility bills.
Energy saving tips
1. Make sure your home is insulated
YHN is insulating properties using loft and cavity insulation where possible. This significantly reduces heat loss through the wall and roof of a building. If you think your home has not been insulated you can contact
YHN to check this and find out if you can get an upgrade of the insulation. Please note, some properties cannot be insulated using traditional loft or cavity wall insulation techniques, but we are looking for other ways to improve these homes.
2. Turn down the heat
You can make big savings by reducing the amount of energy you use to heat our home or using your heating more efficiently. Turning your thermostat down by 1˚C can save up to 10% on your heating bills- that could be up to £50 a year!
It is important though that you do not let your home get too cold – this will cause condensation and mould which could damage your health. The recommended temperature for a living room is 21˚C, while a bedroom should be 18˚C or above. If the weather is not too cold, set your timer so that your central heating only comes on when you are at home. During really cold weather, leave your heating on a low level by turning down your thermostat.
If you are going out in the evening or going away for a few days, set the thermostat to a low temperature such as 13˚C. That way you will reduce your heating bills without the risk of your water pipes freezing up or having damp and mildew develop.
Once you have warmed up your rooms, keep the heat inside by closing your curtains when it gets dark and cold outside. This stops heat escaping through the windows. You can place draught excluders at the bottom of internal doors – this will make rooms feel warmer (please do not use draught excluders which are screwed directly onto doors). If you do not know how to use your thermostat, programme your heating or operate your storage heater controls,
contact YHN for help.
3. Switch off the lights
Energy saving light bulbs are available. They use up to 80% less electricity and last 10 times longer than a standard bulb. Using energy efficient light bulbs is no excuse for leaving lights switched on in rooms that you are not using. Switch lights off as you leave an empty room and you could save up to £20 a year. If you are in the habit of leaving a light on overnight in your child’s room or on the landing, use a low energy nightlight. They are cheap to buy, cost very little to run and give off a reassuring glow.
4. Use your appliances efficiently
Do not be wasteful about how you use your appliances and when you buy new appliances choose products that have a good energy rating. For example an A++ rated fridge freezer could cost £30 less a year compared to C rated one, or £70 less compared to a G rated one!
5. Cooking and cleaning
Regularly defrost your fridge and freezer to keep them running efficiently. Do not over work your fridge by putting in warm food - let it cool down first. If possible position your fridge and freezer away from cookers, radiators or heaters. You could also use a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your fridge is at the right temperature and not using too much energy.
When making toast it is better to use a toaster than a grill – this will save a lot of energy and money. When you are boiling a kettle only boil as much water as you need. Saucepans will heat up faster if you cover them with a lid. You should also match the saucepan size to the size of cooker rings on your hob, so try to use bigger pans on bigger rings. It is even better to use a steamer and cook three or four different things together. Planning ahead will mean you waste less food and if you do have leftovers, they take less energy to reheat than cooking an entire meal from the start again.
To save electricity, water and washing powder, only put your washing machine on when you have a full load. One full load uses less energy than two half loads. Set your machine to 30˚C or 40˚C instead of 60˚C and you’ll use a third less electricity.
6. Do not leave things on standby
Most households add around £40 to their annual bill by leaving appliances on standby. Turn off electrical appliances completely by switching them off at the plug. Do not leave mobile phones and laptops charging longer than you need to, unplug them as soon as they are finished charging. As a simple rule, if a charger is getting hot it is wasting energy, so switch it off!
7. Washing and bathing
As a general rule baths are more expensive than showers, using more water that must be heated. However, it is important to note that taking a shower for longer than 5 minutes actually uses more hot water than most baths, so it is important to keep showers short. If you get a home environmental survey we can identify if you would benefit from water saving measures and arrange to get these fitted. More information is provided in section 10 on this offer.
8. Get a water meter fitted
Fitting a water meter at your property could save you money by making sure you only pay for what you use. It will not save energy on its own, but it might help you and your household to waste less water and reduce energy costs through having to heat less water for showers etc. If you have not made any savings after the first 12 months of installing a water meter you can switch back to the unmetered tariff. There is also a special reduced tariff called ‘WaterSure’
for vulnerable customers who are supplied by meter and need to use large volumes of water due to their personal circumstances. To find out more contact
Northumbrian Water by telephone on 0845 733 5566 or visit www.nwl.co.uk.
9. Switching energy supplier
One of the best things you can do to reduce your energy bills is to check with your energy supplier that you are on the best tariff they offer. To get a better deal you should also consider changing your supplier.
Finding the best deal
There are lots of ways to find out about the best energy deals available, but the easiest is to go online and use a comparison website. Typing “energy bills
comparison” into a search engine should bring up useful sites. It is a good idea to check at least two comparison websites before switching and make sure the comparison site is approved by the ‘Consumer Focus Code of Confidence’.
You can also contact energy suppliers directly but remember that most suppliers will only tell you about deals they can offer you, not how they compare to other companies!
All Customer Service Centres and the West End, East End, Outer West, ?Gosforth, Cruddas Park and Walker libraries offer support to residents wanting
to find their ‘Energy Best Deal’ and switch energy supplier. Staff at these libraries are trained to help so you can drop in to get assistance if you have not got internet access at home or are unsure how to switch energy supplier. Alternatively you can find your ‘Energy Best Deal’ at the City Library at the following times:
- Monday – Friday: 11.30am – 12.30pm
- Saturday: 10.00am – 11.00am
- Sunday: 11.30am – 12.30pm
If you owe a large amount to your utility supplier you may not be able to switch.
You should also make sure that your energy bills are based on actual meter readings rather than estimated usage. You should contact your energy supplier to provide updated readings.
If you are struggling to pay your energy bills you can contact the Energy Services at Newcastle City Council for help. They offer a free advice and support service to Newcastle residents. For more information contact the Energy Services directly by phoning 0191 278 3427 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can talk to a YHN Advice and Support Worker by calling your local housing office.
You may also be eligible for the Warm Home Discount, which is taken off your
electricity bill. To see if you qualify contact your supplier or go to: www.newcastle.gov.uk/environment/energy/warmhome-discount
YHN’s Financial Inclusion Team also work with new tenants giving advice on energy providers, switching suppliers, insulation, water meter applications and changing from prepaid to credit meters. To find out more call YHN on 0191 278 8600 and ask to speak to the Financial Inclusion Team.
The information you’ll need to switch energy supplier
If you are thinking about changing your energy tariff or supplier you will need to tell the supplier about your existing account. These are th steps you will need to go through:
- You will need to know who your existing supplier is and what tariff you are on – you will find this on your bill. It will also be useful to have details on how much energy you used in the last year. The best way to work this out is by using bills based on actual meter readings not estimates. You will also be asked for your postcode and details of how you pay your bills at the moment. You should get a discount if you pay by Direct Debit. Online tariffs are normally the cheapest.
- When you have found an energy supplier that meets your needs contact them and they will agree a contract with you. They will contact you again to make sure you still want to go ahead with the change.
- Once you have signed up, they will let you know what to do if you change your mind and how you can cancel the contract. The transfer can take about six weeks. Your new supplier should keep you informed about how things are progressing and advise you when the switch is complete. Your energy supply will not be disrupted during this time.
- You will need to give your old supplier 28 days’ notice that you intend to switch. Your new supplier will usually do this for you. Remember that your existing supplier will want you to pay any outstanding bills before any switch can take place.
- It is important to take a meter reading on the day the energy supplier changes. You can use this to check that your final bill has been calculated correctly.
10. Home environmental visit
You can arrange a visit to your home by a trained officer to give you more in depth advice about how to save energy, as well as advice on other environmental topics like water saving. During this visit we will be able to assess your home for other ways we can help you make your home feel warmer, and save energy and water. To arrange a home visit contact Investment Delivery on Freephone 0800 091 1256.