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Turning a spring clean into an energy saving opportunity

•  De-cluttering and dusting could prompt energy actions

•  Small changes can make a big difference to bills and comfort
 

If you’ve decided to give your home a spring clean (and overcome the procrastination stage), then it might be time to consider making some changes to increase energy efficiency while you’re at it.

Just because it’s getting a little bit warmer now, doesn’t mean it’s not the time to be preparing yourself for the next incarnation of the ‘Beast from the East’. In fact, it’s just the moment to provide long-term reassurance that when the cold snaps back again, you’ll be ready.

There are a number of measures you can tie in with an all-round clean up that have the potential to make your home more sustainable, and knock some pounds of that energy bill.

From clutter to comfort

Generally, one of the main focuses for spring cleaning is reducing clutter. Unburdening yourself of unwanted items taking up space may well clear the head enough to consider energy makeover options. This could be especially true in the loft, where sorting through the dusty boxes and reducing and recycling provides a perfect opportunity to check loft insulation levels.

Insulation

If you haven’t checked before, it may be that there’s no insulation installed at all, or that it has been in there a long time and needs replacing. If it’s easy to access, not damp and you haven’t got a flat roof, you could do it yourself.

You can save anything from £120 to £225 a year on your fuel bills through have the right levels of loft insulation, compared to having none at all. A top-up of insulation levels from 120 to 270mm, if required, also makes a big difference to home comfort, while saving £10-20 a year.

Savings in your airing cupboard

Hot water tanks are often to be found in airing cupboards, quite possibly among a range of other items, such as unused gadgets or mops and buckets. While it could be high time to reduce some of that clutter in there, it’s always worth making sure that pipes – and the tank itself of course – are suitably insulated.

A jacket for the tank costs around £15, is easy install, and can save you around £20, year after year; significantly more if there was no insulation on it all before. Insulating exposed pipes keeps your water warmer for longer, at a cost of £20 – with an annual saving of around £10. It all adds up.

Dodge the draughts

Cleaning skirting boards and windows are two of the most unpopular tasks on a spring clean list, but if it feels a little chilly down where the floor meets the walls, or near the windows, this could be the perfect prompt to look at draught-proofing options.

Cutting out draughts is one of the most cost-effective energy efficiency moves you can make. Tackling the cool air coming through doors, between floorboards, around windows, pipework and electrical fittings is potentially a DIY job, and can save £25 a year. See our dedicated guide to find out more about choosing the right materials, and how to ensure you maintain proper ventilation.

The window to a bigger investment?

If you have the funds necessary for a bigger investment in making your home more comfortable and sustainable, this could even be the time to start consider replacing windows.

Double glazing with the top rating of A+ save anything from £35 a year if you live in a flat, to £110 if you live in a detached house. Since this does involve a significant expenditure, it’s worth aiming for the highest levels of efficiency your budget allows.

After the dust settles, seeing the light

Dusting down light fittings and electronics is important in order to help them run at maximum capacity. But making lighting cobweb-free also provides a more direct inspiration for energy efficiency measures than most spring cleaning activities.

Are you still using the old style incandescent light bulbs in any rooms? If so, you can stand to make serious savings on your energy bills. The same applies if you’ve got the original energy-saving bulbs, known as CFLs.

Technology has moved on considerably from the early days of energy efficient lighting – you can do better. Plus, sorting out some suitable replacements is likely to prove less pricey than you might think.

LED down the right path

LED lighting is quickly becoming the norm for many applications around the home – and you’ll find electronics stores and supermarkets running special offers on LED bulbs at almost any given time.

Our recent guide to LEDs covered lighting choices in a range of rooms in the home, and offers tips on getting the right effects and style, while bringing in those savings and improving your home’s green credentials.

What’s more, if you visit toptenuk.org, you can find out which bulbs exactly give you the best performance and longevity. With the right choice, you won’t be changing bulbs for many springs to come. 

Have you got any of your own spring energy efficiency quick wins? Let us know. 

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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