Every day there is an item in the news about reducing our carbon emissions. One of the most effective ways to do this is by becoming more energy efficient, and that applies to pretty much all areas of our lives.
In a list of the UK’s top 20 cities, Belfast was found to be lagging at the bottom of the carbon emissions list. (Article from the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-17524956). While other cities have reduced their emissions by 12%, Belfast managed just 4% with the city actually increasing emissions at one stage.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) stated that “47% of Belfast’s emissions are from the domestic sector”, this illustrates the inefficiencies of energy use within Belfast’s housing stock. So what can we do as home-owners to improve our use of energy?
Improving housing energy efficiency
A big problem with energy efficiency in the home is losing heat. If your home loses heat, then you use more energy to keep it warm. This may not be a problem now in the summer but think of the winter we have just had.
So where to start? First off, the best thing to do is look at where your home loses heat. Do you have double-glazing? If not, then you will be losing masses of heat through your windows, so replacing your windows and doors is a great place to start. If you do have double-glazing, check for any drafts that may need to be addressed (especially if your windows are on the older side). If you do decide to replace your windows and doors, remember to get them windows checked for building regulation compliance. You can do that by simply employing a FENSA registered company to replace your windows. If not, you will need to contact your local building control authority to have them inspect your windows (which will cost you extra).
Windows and doors also have their own energy rating scheme, provided by the BFRC. Visit their website to find out more information on the energy efficiency of windows and doors before you make a purchase – http://www.bfrc.org
Once you have addressed your windows, the next place to check is your insulation in your loft. If you have old, worn, or no loft insulation then you will be losing a lot of heat out of the top of your home. You may notice in the winter that if we have had snow, your home doesn’t have any settled (or little compared to others) on the roof, a sure sign your home is letting heat out of your roof.
What’s next…How do you warm your home? There are many new energy efficient boilers now available. Also, when purchasing appliances for the home, such as a washing machine or dish washer, check to see the energy rating of that appliance. Most will have an energy rating sticker attached to them.
Remember, that by improving your use of energy and retaining heat in your home, you will be drastically reducing your energy bills at home.
The green deal is an initiative that specifically deals with energy inefficiencies in the home. Within the glazing industry, since August 2010, the Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF), has been working hard with Government on the Green Deal and what is in it for the consumer, but also how it affects businesses that supply glazed windows and doors. You can find out more information about the GGF and the Green Deal at http://www.ggf.org.uk/green-deal-faqs
For more information on the Green Deal in general, visit http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/tackling/green_deal/green_deal.aspx