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  • Writer's pictureThe Climate Coach

5 top tips for reducing household gas consumption/emissions, oh and your bills!

Reducing emissions from the gas you use at home can seem like an impossible task, but it is usually possible to make meaningful reductions with very little impact to your day to day life. With gas prices as they are right now - any way to reduce your bill has got to be worth a try, right?

Before we get started - it's worth noting that the reason this is important is because heating your home can often be one of your biggest sources of emissions at an individual level - alongside the food you eat and your transport.

Let's get started...

1. Let me guess - insulation?

Yep - pretty much. If your loft insulation is missing, it's 100% worth putting some in. For a very thin layer of insulation it's probably also worth adding some additional. Insulation is relatively inexpensive and will reduce the heat loss into your loft space - thus reduce your gas consumption and associated emissions. Beyond loft insulation, the other areas that may require insulation (walls and floors) are often bigger jobs so may not pay back as quickly or at all - but will make your home more comfortable and reduce your gas consumption/emissions. So in summary, go check it out and see if you have any quick wins. If you don't own your house, ask (demand!) your landlord replace any missing insulation.

You should also take a quick look at any airtightness opportunities which go really hand in hand with insulation and can help reduce gas use significantly.

2. What else? boiler?

Your boiler will likely be your biggest gas appliance in the home - and thus has the biggest opportunity when it comes to trying to reduce the amount of gas you use. There are a few things you can do here to help:

  • Try turning the boiler flow temperature down. There should be a little dial on the boiler which controls how hot the water is when it leaves the boiler. If it's up at 80 degrees, try turning it down to 50 or 60, especially if you have insulated pipes. If it becomes ineffective at heating the home, then turn it back up slightly. Your boiler has to work harder to get the water to those higher temperature which uses more gas.

  • Review your heating schedule. Are you heating the house when you don't need to? Are you heating rooms that aren't in use every day? Do you need the house to be warm whilst you sleep? Reviewing your heating schedule can help reduce how much energy you use. Just a watch out though that in some cases, regularly heating the house up from very cold can sometimes use more energy than just keeping it a bit warmer all of the time.

  • How old is your boiler? Boilers lose efficiency over time. Each boiler is rated with a % - which basically says what % of gas put in is turned into heat, so a 90% efficient boiler makes 0.9kWh worth of heat from every 1kWh of gas energy put into it. It varies by boiler but estimates suggest boilers lose about 1% efficiency per year - so a 15-20 year old boiler could be very inefficient. This means an upgrade to a very energy efficient boiler could pay back sooner than you think. Let's say you 15k kWh per year of gas through your boiler. That will cost you about £1,500 per year. Let's say your 15 year old boiler had 85% efficiency when you got it and now has 70% (dropped by 15%). If you upgraded to a 95% efficient boiler you'd effectively be saving 25% of that £1,500 bill per year - £475. So you may find the new boiler has paid for itself in only a few years.

  • If you are looking at a boiler replacement, research whether a heat pump could work for your house. Ground source, air source and even sea source heat pumps are available and can provide an emission free (although unless powered by renewables, there are still emissions from the electricity generation) alternative to home heating.

3. Smart thermostat

Closely linked to your gas boiler - a smart thermostat can help to reduce your gas consumption and emissions. This will help you avoid heating the home when you aren't there - or parts of the home when you are using them. Being able to control the temperature may also allow you to drop the temperature you keep the house slightly cooler than you would have it normally. It's a classic but turning the heating down by 1 degree can significantly reduce your usage over the course of a year.

4. Gas oven or hob

Electric alternatives are available for gas hobs, gas ovens and gas fire places - so if you are making changes purely based on emissions, these could be good avenues to explore. Cost wise, they may not save you money because electricity unit prices are so much higher than gas - but from an efficiency perspective, they are a no brainer. Inductions waste virtually no heat so nearly all the heat generated is transferred into whatever you are cooking vs a gas hob where a huge amount of heat is lost around the sides of the pan.

5. And finally, heat yourself not the space.

"Space" - as in a whole room or whole house, costs a lot to heat - especially when compared to just heating yourself. One of the "cheapest" ways of keeping yourself warm is boiling the kettle for a hot water bottle and then using this to keep you warm whilst it lasts. Obviously if you are sat around the house in shorts and t-shirt, you'll notice turning that thermostat down but an extra layer may well offset that slight drop and help reduce emissions and cost.

If you have any thoughts, feedback or ideas you wish to contribute on this or any other topic covered by The Climate Coach - please get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.

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