Energy efficiency

This page gives a brief guide to ways you can save energy and money in your home. You don't need to spend much to make your home more energy efficient - small changes in the way you run your home can make big differences.

Day-to-day savings

Here are some simple changes you can make which will help save energy in your home. They won't cost you a penny, and should save you money.

Heating, lighting and hot water

  • If your heating system has a thermostat, turn it down by 1°C - this can cut your fuel bills by 10 per cent. However, if you feel cold, don't suffer - turn your thermostat up again.
  • If your hot water system has a thermostat, turn this down too. 60°C should be hot enough.
  • Always put the plug in the basin or sink when you're running hot water - don't pour money down the drain!
  • Save on hot water by showering instead of having a bath. 
  • Close your curtains when it gets dark to keep in heat.
  • Switch off lights when you leave a room.

Household appliances

  • Don't leave electrical appliances such as TVs, DVD players and computers on standby. This wastes electricity and can also be a fire hazard.
  • Never leave your fridge door standing open, and always let warm food cool down before putting it in the fridge.
  • Defrost your freezer regularly to keep it working efficiently. If it needs defrosting very frequently, check that the door is closing properly. A full freezer uses less energy, so buy some bread to fill up the empty space, or even scrunch up some newspaper and put it in.
  • Wash clothes at the lowest possible temperature and always fill the machine. If you need to do a smaller load, remember to choose the 'half load' option.
  • Only set the dishwasher off when it's full, and set it at a low temperature.
  • Heat food up in a microwave instead of a conventional oven - it's quicker and will use up far less energy.
  • Keep the lids on pots when you're cooking - food will heat up more quickly so you'll save on fuel.
  • If you're boiling the kettle, only put in the amount of water you need.

DIY improvements

These are simple, inexpensive improvements you can carry out yourself to make your home more energy efficient:

  • Fit your doors and windows with draught excluders. You can buy these in most DIY stores.
  • Seal up gaps in your floorboards and skirting board to keep out draughts and keep in heat. Always remember that your home does need some ventilation to let in fresh air and combat dampness and mould growth, so don't block up wall vents and try to keep window vents open.
  • Use low-energy light bulbs - they're slightly more expensive than standard light bulbs but will last up to 12 times longer and use just a quarter of the energy.
  • Fit your hot water tank with an insulating jacket - you'll get back what you paid in six months. Hot water pipes should also be insulated to keep in heat.
  • If your heating system doesn't have a thermostat or timer, get one installed, so you can control heat levels more effectively. Make sure you consult an expert before doing any work on the electrical wiring of your home.

Calling in the professionals

Insulating your home or installing double glazing may seem expensive at first, but over time these energy efficient measures will pay for themselves in fuel savings:

  • Install double glazing to keep in up to 50 per cent more heat and keep out draughts. You won't necessarily have to replace your existing windows - you may be able to get secondary glazing installed instead.
  • Your home can lose a third of its heat through the roof - keep it in by ensuring your loft is properly insulated. The Building Research Establishment recommends a depth of eight to ten inches.
  • Install cavity wall insulation - this is one of the most effective energy saving measures you can take. Make sure the insulation is covered under Cavity Insulation Guarantee, this means it will comply with British standards and have a 25 year guarantee.
  • Replace your old boiler with a new, high condensing, energy efficient boiler - it could save you 33 per cent from your fuel bills.

Energy efficient appliances

Energy efficient domestic appliances are cheaper to run so will help you save on bills. When you're buying a new fridge, freezer, washing machine, dishwasher or other household appliance, look for the energy efficient logo. Energy efficient fridges, freezers, washing machines and dryers should also show the European Union energy label - this rates the appliance from A to G, with A as the most efficient (or A++ for fridges). Sometimes these A rated appliances are endorsed by fuel utility companies, so you might get a discount on the price.

Help and advice

Everyone is entitled to advice and information on making their home for more energy efficient. To find out more, call Home Energy Scotland on 0808 808 2282.

Home Energy Scotland offers advice on:

  • saving energy in your home
  • entitlement to benefits and lowering your fuel bills
  • staying warm
  • finding reputable contractors to carry out improvements
  • getting grants to help make your home more energy efficient.

You can also get a free online energy efficiency check at the Energy Saving Trust, to see where you can make improvements.

Home Energy Efficiency Programme

The Home Energy Efficiency Programme (HEEPS) was introduced by the Scottish Government to help reduce fuel bills and improve the energy efficiency of homes across Scotland. The help available via HEEPS includes 

  • free energy advice
  • financical help with energy efficiency measures such as insulation
  • benefit check and low cost energy rates

There are several schemes running as part of HEEPS, for more information and to find out if you are eligible contact Home Energy Scotland.

Speak to a Shelter Scotland adviser

Call Shelter Scotland's free housing advice helpline

0808 800 4444
9am-5pm, Monday to Friday

Email an adviser

You can also email a housing adviser. We aim to respond within three working days.

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