Reducing energy bills

Save energy and money 

It is estimated that the average UK household wastes £250 per year by not being energy efficient. Saving energy in your home couldn’t be easier. With just a few small steps, you can stay warm, save money and reduce your CO2 emissions. 

Green Camden Helpline

Contact the Green Camden Helpline for advice including:

  • Top tips to make your home warmer and save money
  • Fuel tariffs and switching supplier
  • What to do if you are in fuel or water debt – there is help available
  • Eligibility check for:
    • Well and Warm home energy advice visit
    • Warm Home Discount (£140 off your energy bill)
    • Private sector energy efficiency grants

Contact Green Camden helpline

Switch energy suppliers

Are you worried about rising fuel bills? Have you considered switching supplier?

Find out about fuel switching

No-cost tips

  • Turning down your thermostat by only 1°C could reduce your heating bills by up to 10% – saving you nearly £50 per year
  • Set your hot water tank to 60°C to prevent water from being overheated
  • Conserve energy by not leaving electrical items on standby. Prevent further wastage by not keeping laptops and mobile phones charging unnecessarily
  • Draw your curtains at dusk to retain heat in your home
  • Take a 3 minute shower rather than a bath – showers use a lot less hot water
  • Wash your clothes at 30°C, with a full load each time
  • Keep internal doors closed to reduce draughts

Low-cost tips

  • Look for energy efficient alternatives for your lighting
  • Insulate your hot water pipes to stop heat escaping
  • Fit your hot water tank with an insulating jacket. Using one that's at least 75mm (three inches) thick could save you around £30 a year
  • Fix shelves above radiators to deflect warm air into the room
  • Put aluminium foil behind radiators against outside walls to reduce the amount of heat escaping
  • Use programmable heating controls to turn your heating on only when it’s needed
  • Fit thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to keep frequently visited rooms warm whilst turning off radiators in rooms that aren’t being used

Renewable energy at home

Before you consider renewable energy systems for your home, make sure you have addressed the cheaper and more cost effective energy efficiency measures first. The more you reduce your energy demands at source, the greater the proportion of your energy will be met by the new renewable system. 

Find out more and links to useful guides provided by the Centre for Sustainable Energy, below.

Planning permission

To install renewable energy technologies in your home, you may need planning permission.

Solar power

Solar power captures energy from the sun to power items around your home. The two main types currently used are:

  • solar water heating systems
  • solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

Solar water heating systems

Solar water heating systems use thermal energy from the sun to heat water in the home. On average they can provide a third of the home’s hot water usage in a year – typically the majority of this is supplied in the summer with significant top-up heating required in the winter.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems

Solar PV panels convert sunlight into electrical energy. PV panel performance depends greatly on their location, with even minimal levels of shading from chimney breasts or nearby trees having a significant impact on performance. 

It is unlikely that you’ll be able to meet all your electrical demands through PV because they generate in the day when lighting and energy use tend to be low, but the energy they produce can be more cost effective than buying from an energy provider. 

download: solar PV guide (PDF)

Wind power

Wind turbines convert wind energy into electricity. Despite being a clean and low carbon method of producing energy wind turbines are unlikely to work well in a built up area such as Camden because urban density creates wind turbulence that slows wind speed. Planning permission is also likely to be problematic.

If you do want to install a wind turbine, the first step should be to determine the available wind speed at the proposed location using the Energy Saving Trust’s wind predictor tool

Biomass

Biomass is a renewable, low carbon fuel which can be burnt to generate heat. In Camden the most common biomass fuel is wood (logs, pellets or chips), although biofuels such as biogas may also be considered.

Although the process of burning releases CO2; biomass retains a closed carbon cycle – it takes carbon out of the atmosphere while it’s growing and returns it when it’s burnt. It therefore produces significantly fewer carbon emissions than fossil fuels.

The main issue with biomass in Camden is its impact on local air quality and in some instances a full air quality assessment will be required before installation. If you are considering a domestic scale installation please refer to our guidance on using wood burning stoves

Heat pumps: ground source and air source

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) use heat from the ground to raise the temperature of a liquid contained in a coil or “loop” which is buried in the ground. The liquid is then passed through a compressor to raise its temperature and heat the home. You will need to have a garden if you are considering a GSHP.

download: ground source heat pump guide (PDF)

Air Source Pumps (ASPs) work by extracting warm air from the atmosphere, before compressing it to provide usable heat.

download: air source heat pump guide (PDF)

Although the pumps use electricity, the heat they extract from the ground and air is constantly being renewed naturally which is considered to outweigh the carbon impact of the electricity being used.  

Micro combined heat and power (CHP)
Micro combined heat and power (CHP) units use natural gas to generate both heat and electricity for the home. Although not strictly speaking a renewable technology they can help reduce emissions.

Renewable energy grants and incentives

We are committed to helping you make sustainable energy improvements to your home.

Find out if you could benefit from financial assistance to help make your home more energy efficient:

Fuel switch

Are you getting the best deal for your gas and electricity? Have you compared your tariff recently? You could save around £200 per year. Don’t miss out and compare your tariff today!

Switching your supplier

We have teamed up with Islington Council to help you compare tariffs to see if you could save money on your energy bills by changing your supplier. Please ensure you have your most recent fuel bills to hand to accurately compare tariffs.

Islington Fuel Switch tool

Alternatively, you can use Citizens Advice website, which also includes a range of switching advice and FAQ’s:

Collective energy switching

What is collective switching?

Collective switching is where lots of customers’ gas and electricity needs are added together to try to get a better deal from energy suppliers. (This can include other fuels like oil). We have joined with London Councils' Big London Energy Switch.

To find out more and register your interest for collective switching, please visit biglondonswitch.org.uk.

For free, impartial energy advice on all the options available to you, please call the Green Camden Helpline.

How does it work?

Customers provide how much energy they use (taken from bills, annual supplier statements or meter readings), together with details of their energy tariff, how they currently pay and current energy supplier(s) to the organisation arranging the energy auction. Energy suppliers are then invited to submit their best price on the day of the auction.

What happens once the auction has taken place?

The energy suppliers’ responses are analysed and customers are sent personalised offers by phone, email or post, based on the information they originally provided. The customers then individually choose to accept or refuse the price offered.

Customers are also sent a copy of the energy suppliers’ terms and conditions which they must accept before being switched to the new energy company.

The Customer will be asked to provide meter readings or they may be visited by a meter reader to take meter readings. This helps the old energy supplier to produce a closing bill and the new energy supplier to produce an opening bill.

Your new energy supplier will usually process the switch within four weeks.

Benefits

  • Collective switching saves you time searching for the best deal for you.
  • Collective switching can save you a lot of money – particularly if you have not changed supplier in the last few years.
  • There is no charge to Customers for the service, as the service provider negotiates a referral fee from the energy supplier direct.
  • Collective switching is a simple process.
  • There is no obligation to accept the quote.

Things you need to know:

  1. Collective switching can save you money, but it may not be the cheapest deal. Not all suppliers may choose to take part in the auction.
  2. It may be some weeks before the auction takes place, so any cost savings may be delayed or reduced if energy prices go up.
  3. It’s possible that a benefit provided by your existing supplier may not be available from your new supplier, in particular, for households on low incomes, with children under 16 or elderly residents.
  4. If you are on a pre-payment tariff, there may be other issues to consider.
  5. Not everyone can switch supplier e.g. if you pay your landlord for energy as part of your rent or separately or you have a high level of debt with your current supplier (s).
  6. If you are on an existing contract, you may have to pay an early exit fee to your existing supplier. If you are unsure, contact your supplier for more information.
  7. Some suppliers may ask you to keep a month’s credit in your account under their supply terms and conditions. It’s important to read terms and conditions carefully.
  8. If you have time and have easy access to your energy bills, it may be cheaper to do it yourself using a switching company. 

 

Insulation

On average, 80% of the energy used in homes is for heating. Using good insulation can reduce the amount of energy you use, helping to cut your fuel bills and carbon emissions.

Here are a few recommendations for making your home more energy efficient with detailed downloadable guides from the Centre for Sustainable Energy. You may be eligible for financial support to help make these improvements.

Draught proof your windows and doors

According to the Energy Saving Trust, draughts are responsible for 15% of the heat lost from a home. Full draught proofing could reduce your energy bills by around £30 per year.

What’s more, draught-free homes are comfortable at lower temperatures – so you’ll be able to turn down your thermostat, which could save you another £55 per year.

Draught-proofing is really easy to install- you can even do it yourself.

Loft insulation

Most household heat is lost through the walls and the roof. By installing loft installation, you could save up to £225 a year, while cavity wall insulation can add £110 to your savings.

You can insulate your roof in two ways. Either using loft insulation blankets, also known as ‘quilts’ which you can do yourself or with blown insulation which uses specialist equipment to blow loose, fire-retardant material into the loft.

Already have loft insulation? Adding another layer to bring it up to the recommended 270 millimetres could save you more energy and money.

Cavity wall insulation

Most housing built since the 1930s has cavity wall construction, which means that there is an exterior wall, with a second wall next to it. The space between the two walls is called the cavity, and this is filled with insulation material.
Insulating your cavity walls will help to heat your home more efficiently.

Solid wall insulation

If your home was built before the 1930s it is likely to have solid external walls. Unlike cavity walls, solid walls have no gap allowing nearly twice as much heat to pass through them if they are un-insulated. Solid walls can be insulated either with internal insulation or external insulation.

External wall insulation involves putting an insulating layer on the outside of your home and then cladding it. While internal wall insulation uses insulation boards or a wooden frame filled with insulation attached to the inside of your walls. Both methods can help your home retain valuable heat, as well as saving you money!

Energy efficient glazing

We recommend installing either double, or triple glazed windows in your home. They are an effective way of keeping your home both warmer and quieter, whilst saving you money.

The costs and savings of double and triple glazing will be different for each home and each window, depending on the size, material and installer.

If your home is a listed building or in a conservation area there may be certain restrictions. Before making any changes to your windows, please check our planning guidance guide.

Heating and hot water

On average, boilers are responsible for generating 60% of CO2 emissions in a gas heated home.

By replacing your boiler with a high efficiency condensing boiler you could significantly reduce your C02 output as well saving up to £225 per year.

Types of heating systems

From 2010 any new gas boiler installed must be an A-rated or 88% efficient condensing boiler. 

There are two types of condensing boiler:

  • combination (also known as ‘combi’) boilers provide heated water for radiators and under floor heating – they are able to supply instant hot water without the need for a hot water cylinder
  • system or open vent also provides heated water for radiators and under floor heating, however they require a hot water tank to heat and store hot water for when it is needed.

What to consider when replacing your boiler?

It is important to choose a boiler that is best suited to your home and lifestyle. Below is a quick guide to the benefits of both types.

Combination/Combi condensing boiler

  • provides instant hot water when you turn the tap on
  • space saving, as there is no need for a separate hot water tank
  • reduces heat that would be lost from a hot water tank
  • beneficial for smaller households and those that don’t use much hot water each day

However, this is not suitable for households that have:

  • low mains pressure
  • multiple bathrooms or showers (that aren’t electric)

System or open vent condensing boiler

  • provides large amounts of hot water if multiple water points are in use at one time as hot water is stored in a separate tank
  • may be easier to replace your boiler if you are replacing a similar system
  • beneficial if you like an airing cupboard
  • suitable for all households

Thermostats and heating controls

Using heating controls allows you to keep your home at a comfortable temperature as well as giving you the freedom to monitor your hot water and heating to come on and off when you need it. 

Some of the most common heating control instructions can be found below:

Danfoss programmer FP715

Danfoss programmer FP715 SI

Danfoss Ret B Room Thermostat

Novo Stat programmer

Denton, Snowman, Casterbridge programmer

Ambient programmer - underfloor heating

 

Storage heaters

If your home is heated by electric storage heaters, this simple guide from the Centre for Sustainable Energy provides tips on how to get the most out of your heaters.

Advice and help

For more information on installing heating controls or an energy efficient boiler, contact the Green Camden helpline.