As the sunshine fades, temperatures fall, and our surroundings turn crisp shades of red, brown and orange, it’s time to get ready for the colder months. There’s something extra special about this time of year. Though the summer sun is long gone and we’ve all returned to work, school and university, there’s a quiet buzz of excitement building as we look forward to the festivities that the impending season offers.
Pumpkins, bonfires and Christmas trees are the icons of the coming months, along with big feasts, red wine, and of course, presents! The excitement comes at a price, of course, and we can all expect our bank balances to take a hit. That’s why is so important to consider the other additional costs that come with A/W, including our energy bills.
At this time of year, we all long to be warm and cosy in our homes. That means switching on the heating, boiling the kettle, and settling down to watch a film with the family. We also have our lights turned on for longer, we use more water for hot baths, and we spend more time cooking large meals and baking sweet treats. All of these tasks require electricity, which means our energy bills can drastically increase. “Saving money on your heating bills during the winter months is always a priority, but rarely a reality for homeowners,” explains Sam from Green Energy Direct 2U, specialists in green energy measures in the home. “Regardless of how much you to try to prepare your home for the colder nights with budget precautions, you’ll almost always end up caving in and turning up the boiler at some point.”
Furthermore, eco-friendliness becomes even more of a concern at this time of year. This season is inherently consumer-focused and relies heavily on natural resources, such as coal and wood for warmth, animals and plants for extra food, and oil and gas for transportation to visit friends and family. As such, we need to be extra conscious of the way we use our environment and potentially damage it.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways we can be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly throughout autumn and winter. In terms of the energy you use at home, start by taking a look around the house and identify the areas where you can improve efficiency and retain heat. Programme your thermostat’s automatic settings so that the heating comes on at specific times of day. We recommend boosting your home to 20 degrees about an hour before wake-up time, then set ting your heating to lower once you leave the house. It could then warm up again when evening rolls around, ensuring you’re toasty warm before heading to bed. Ideally, your heating shouldn’t be on high overnight, as the heat will be wasted. A hot stuffy house can also be detrimental to the quality of your sleep.
Lights & tech
Autumn and winter are dark months, which means our main light and lamps are switched on more often. Be smart and swap to LED bulbs, which are extremely energy efficiency in comparison to their incandescent alternatives. You should be mindful of the appliances you use, too, and make sure you switch things off at the mains – the items you leave on standby can account for around 10% of your household’s electricity bill. We tend to spend a lot more time in the house in the colder months, which means we use our gadgets
more often. Keep an eye on TV and computer usage and try to limit to a couple of hours per day… remember, switching off means you’ll save money and you won’t get square eyes!
Your windows can lose around 40% of your home’s heat, and if you crank up the heating to compensate, you may find yourself stuck with a rather hefty bill. Make your home’s glazing more energy efficient by swapping your window dressings to heavier curtains or sturdy wooden blinds. These should be kept shut for optimum warmth retention, apart from the time of day when sunlight enters that room. In this case, they should be left open for maximum natural light and heat. If your windows aren’t double glazed, you should also consider upgrading. The cost is considerable initially, but you are guaranteed to save money in the long term.
“One of the best (and easiest) ways to save money and become more energy efficient is to fix any cracks in window and doors,” Sam adds. “Although this might seem minor, areas that are exposed to draughts will reduce the temperature of the whole house. Fixing these cracks and holes doesn’t even have to involve professional help. In many cases, it’s as simple as a good adhesive, or even a piece of fabric to block the exposed area and stop the cold air from circulating your home.”
When it comes to travelling, consider the environment before you jump solo into your 4×4 fo a five minute trip to the shops. It may be nippy outside, but that’s nothing a warm jacket and boots won’t solve. Get wrapped up, and get those legs moving. If weather permits, you can still make use of your bike… just make sure you’re extra careful in rain and windy conditions. You could also try car sharing as an alternative, or public transport where possible. Of course, trains and buses are not recommended over the festive period!
In terms of food, remember that we’re all guilty of over estimating, and a lot of our grub unfortunately ends up in the bin. Make shopping lists and meal plans to help prevent wastage, and don’t let yourself be sucked in to festive marketing ploys… that package of sweets sure looks tasty, but the majority of it is plastic wrapping! We all tend to consume more meat in autumn and winter, too (thanks to those hearty stews and tasty roast dinners), so bear this in mind. Visiting a butcher and spending a little extra on a high quality cut is much more beneficial to the environment and economy – and it also takes a lot better – than buying cheap stuff from the supermarket.
With our advice, you can enjoy autumn and winter 2016 without the worry of expensive bills and environmental damage. We love this time of year and all of the special events it has to offer, and by being financially savvy and eco-friendly, it’s all the more enjoyable! Take your first steps towards an energy efficient home this season by discovering the wide range of wooden blinds we have on offer – just click the button below.