Finding easy ways to go green around the house
Most of us understand the importance of being green, either because it’s bad for the environment or simply to save money. But with so many aspects of our life that can be improved by living greener, many of us don’t know where to start.
Do you know how much energy your house churns through in a week? Is turning electronics like the television or computer on standby enough to cut down our energy consumption? Should we be replacing our electronics with greener versions, even if it cuts down on the quality of our experience? And how exactly do you understand in real terms the energy-efficiency sticker on an appliance?
Whether you’re someone who claims to be green and wants to know more, or are a carbon-neutral newcomer and want to get started, there are answers to all the above questions and more. This live webTV show features energy expert Dr Paula Owen from Energy Saving Trust and Gary King from Bosch who will give their top tips on living an environmentally-friendly existence without sacrificing on our enjoyment of technology
For more information visit www.bosch.co.uk
H: Mark Rise, host
A: Dr Paula Owen, Energy Saving Trust
B: Gary King, Bosch
H: Hello I’m Mark Rise, welcome to the Homes and Gardens Show. Now most of us understand the importance of being green these days, but beyond simply recycling your domestic waste, there are a number of ways in which you can make your home more environmentally-friendly. In doing so you’ll not only be reducing your carbon footprint, but you could in fact save money on your energy bills. Want to find out more? Stay tuned. Well joining me today to discuss this in the studio is Dr Paula Own from the Energy Saving Trust and Gary King from Automotive Industrial and Consumer good manufacturer, Bosch. Gary if we can start with you, recent research that you’ve done show that we all want to be a little bit greener but through various reasons, we get time or money, cost, those kinds of things, we’re a little bit reluctant to do so. Where are we all standing on that at the moment?
B: We conducted this research and it was very interesting because it showed that 90% of people do actually care about the environment and want to contribute to that, but around 28% of people said they would only pay £5.00 a week. So we really got this – got to try and get this message across to consumers that in terms of spending money then they can – they don’t have – sorry, environmental technology doesn’t have to actually cost – cost them an awful lot of money
H: Well let’s –
B: They can save money in the medium term
H: That’s the key -
B: And the long term
H: That is the key isn’t it, and that’s where the Energy Saving Trust comes in of course Paula –
H: Because you try and re-educate people that they can save quite a lot of money. We’re talking real money, real hard cash saving aren’t we?
A: We are yes, there’s a lot of ways people can save money without actually having to spend any at all. For example with your heating system, with your thermostat, turn it down one degree and you’re saving around about £55 a year on your heating bills
H: And presumably people wouldn’t feel the difference maybe between 21 and 20 degrees -
H: Depending on where they have it in their home, so one degree isn’t going to make a huge difference in your home but it will save you money
A: Yes. Every degree saves you 10% on your fuel bill
H: That’s quite impressive isn’t it actually, so 2 degrees, if you can afford it, even better
A: That’s £100, yes
H: So what about appliances that we’ve got in our home that – because it’s about – we’ve heard a lot about little red lights and stand-by lights and things haven’t we?
A: Stand-by yes, stand-by is just a waste of your money. Energy and your money. We recommend that if you switch off everything that can go off in your home, off stand-by, you will be saving around about £30-35 a year on your electricity bills, just for getting rid of that little red light
H: Wow. That’s quite impressive. And then there’s little things like changing your light bulbs – I think we’ve all heard about energy-saving light bulbs, can be quite confusing though can’t it?
A: Well not any more actually because of the old inefficient light bulbs, what we call the incandescent light bulbs are actually now banned throughout Europe. You can’t buy incandescent light bulbs any more, so you can only buy the energy-efficient light bulbs. The good thing about them is they only use about 20% of the energy that the old light bulbs did, so you’re saving 80% on your lighting bills each year
H: I’m assuming that they’ve got better as well, because in the old days, or when they were first introduced, I should say, it took a while for them to light up and we all kind of went oh it’s a bit duller than it used to be. It has got better than that hasn’t it?
A: It’s changed completely, you can get every shape, size, colour that you need nowadays. You can even get ones that dim with dimming switches, so you can get them to fit all lamps nowadays
H: Gary the thing about Bosch that most people don’t realise is that you’re run by a charitable trust that actually ploughs a huge amount of money into research and development on energy efficiency and other areas, so what kind of areas are you looking at for home appliances to become more efficient?
B: Well we invest over £2 billion a year in investing in – in environmental technologies, and that covers both the house, automotive and in industry, so it is a huge amount of money
H: We are live this afternoon by the way and if you want to send your questions to either Gary or to Paula, please do. The little box on your screen where you’re watching right now, send your questions in, we are live and we’ll answer as many as we can. Let’s look more broadly at the home you two, and just for a second – the ways that we can make our homes simply more greener, without necessarily going and buying a lot of other stuff, there are other things that we can do as well, aren’t there?
A: Well the most important thing with your home is to make sure it’s insulated properly. For example if you haven’t got any insulation in your loft at all, all of your heat over the winter and it’s been a really, really cold winter this year, all that heat is going through your roof which is crazy because you’re paying for heat to just escape. So the first thing you should do is go and look in your loft, if you haven’t got any loft insulation please go and get some. It’s quite cheap to get it fitted now and it’ll save you £150 a year. If you have got some loft insulation, but it’s a small amount, a couple of inches, the best thing to do is to top it up to about 27cm, 10 inches in old money
A: So quite high, and that top-up will save you around about £45 / 50 a year, and that’s ongoing, so as soon as you put it into your home, it’ll save you money year on year, so it’s a bit of a no-brainer really
H: Well I’ve got loft insulation, but I’ve got a very draughty window – I’m guessing you’ll tell me off for that
A: Is it a single-glazed original window?
H: Yes, afraid so
A: Ok and you don’t want to replace it for a double-glazed -
H: Not at the moment. Is there anything I can do to make that better?
A: Yes there is, you can get what we call secondary glazing, now that can be as simple as a thick piece of Perspex plastic with magnetic holes around the side. You just place that in front of your single glazed window in the winter, it helps to keep the draughts out and the heat in, in the summer you just take it away because it’s just magnetically held in place, so that’s easy. The other thing to do is to invest in some good curtains, and you can get them thermally lined so that again keeps the heat in. The other tip for through the winter period is to draw those curtains at dusk so the heat you’ve had through the day, through the winter sun and the heat you’re generating in the house, isn’t escaping so fast.
H: So in effect the thicker your curtains, you keep more heat in and in the summer you keep more light out?
H: So it works both ways
A: It works both ways
H: Fantastic stuff. I’ve had a question in from a lady – a lady or a gentleman called DGL so thank you for sending your question in. It says “my partner currently leaves her laptop on all the time. This is a terrible use of power, but she goes crazy if I shut her computer down. Tough but fair, I hope you’ll agree.” Gary – what can we do about this kind of thing? We’ve heard that we’ve got to shut things off, but are appliances and computers and things that we’ve got in the home – are we thinking more about how they can be more efficient?
B: Well we should be, and they are an awful lot more efficient, going back to 1990, some of our appliances, refrigerators for example, use 79% less energy than they did then, so that’s a significant –
H: Why is it different components, different manufacture – how has that happened?
B: Well all sorts of technologies really but moving onto things like – like dishwashers. I mean there are dishwashers now that we do that only use 10 litres of water, so you know it’s efficient distribution of water within the machine for example, and recycling htat water, so you know all these things are possible and we invest huge amounts of money in looking at the long term future of these things. Some of these have come to the surface and we’re working on – on a lot for the future
H: Now you mentioned washing machines, we’ve had a question in from Ross who says he recently went to my local electrical store. Nearly all the washing machines were A rated, because there’s this rating system now. He says it’s very confusing to know now which is the most energy-efficient if they’ve all got an A rating on. Can you spread some light on this issue because I know a lot of people think like this
B: Yes. With washing machines, obviously there’s been huge technological advances over the years, and we’re in the lucky position now where a lot – the majority of the market are at the A rating rather than the B or the C or even worse. But now what we have with washing machines is an A + rating. So what he can look for in the shop is – go beyond A now to A + and the other thing to look for is the Energy Saving recommended logo. This is a logo that we give to appliances and products that are in the top 20% of energy efficiency, within the product range
H: So that’s actually an Energy Saving Trust logo on the actual appliance?
B: It is yes, it’s an accreditation mark that we only give to the best, most efficient appliances. So look for that logo as well as looking for – on washing machines, A+
H: You must have a whole department going out and testing all of these things then –
B: Yes we do
H: Excellent, brilliant stuff. Now there are other things that you can do for your home. We hear a lot about rainwater and solar panels, and even little windmills on your houses. What’s the current state of technology with that then?
A: Well it’s - it’s good, it’s an evolving one. I think at the moment it would be true to say that solar panels and wind turbines for the home are relatively expensive. The payback is reasonably long term, but as this becomes a volume market then the costs will come down significantly and enable more people to get involved in that
H: So the bottom line is the more people that put solar panels on their houses, the cheaper it will become. I know that we’ve got a lot of questions in about solar panels, Demelza has sent in an interesting one, she says “I’m very keen on having a more energy efficient home” – I think we all are and your research shows that. “What’s the payback period” and this so called ‘payback period’ a lot of people talk about – if I’m going to invest in solar panels, it’s going to be a lot of money, when am I going to see my money back?
A: Well quite recently we’ve had an announcement by government which makes the idea of putting in solar panels much more attractive, because basically what government has said is that if I put solar panels on my roof an I generate a certain amount of electricity, that I don’t need in my house because I’ll be generating more than I personally need, and I feed that electricity back to the grid, the national grid, the energy supplier will have to pay me a certain amount of money for my solar power electricity. Now the good thing about it is we in the UK pay about 13p for every kilowatt of energy – of electricity we use, but the energy supplier will be paying me say if was a supplier of this energy, 41p per kilowatt,
A: Much higher than what we’re buying it for. So it’s thought that the average income, tax-free income that I could earn in a year is approximately £900 from the energy supplier. Now if we think of a typical system and we –
H: It’s making me smile, because I’m just doing the calculation in my head now
A: If we say a typical system which is usually about a 2 ½ kilowatt system, can cost you anything from £8000 to £12,000 depending on kind of where you are, what technology you use. And you’ve got £900 coming in every year tax-free, as well as having your own electricity paid for because you don’t need to buy much off the grid because you’re creating your own. You get pay-back of within 10 years, but what people forget is the thought of solar power on your roof is a really good selling point, so by putting solar pv panels on your roof, you’re actually increasing the value of your home, so there’s payback within 10 years but there’s also, you probably get £10,000 extra for your home because it is energy –
H: You bring us on to a really important point. When we move home, or if we rent when we’re looking to move home, when we buy, when we’re looking to buy a new house, what should we be looking for? Are there things we should specifically be looking for, because there are – in the Home Information Packs there are energy efficiency ratings now aren’t there?
A: Yes, yes. In the Home Information Pack you must have what’s called an EPC, an energy performance certificate, that’s an A to G rating again, so the same as white goods have got the A to G rating, so have homes. So when you’re looking to buy or looking to rent, you should look to see what that rating is, and the higher it is, ie. The nearer to A it is, the more efficient the house is. Same thing on cars. Cars have got A to G ratings too and that shows the running costs of a car. Now you’d never think about buying a car without really – and try and do some maths in your head –
A: About how much it’s going to cost you in petrol
H: Very much so
A: So why would you take on a house without having some idea of how much it’s going to cost you in gas and electricity to run?
H: It is funny isn’t it because we’ve always had that kind of thing in our minds, if you buy an old house it’s going to be less energy efficient, it’s going to be higher bills, buy a modern home, you kind of think – but actually it’s evening out by all the things that your – both your organisations are doing
A: Yes. Old houses always will be less efficient because they tend to be solid wall, rather than cavity wall houses, and it’s easy to insulate cavity walls. Not so much with solid walls, they’re often draughtier as well because they’re so old, if you’ve got original windows that you don’t want to change for some reason. So in general old houses are much less efficient than new, but of course there’s all sorts of things you can do nowadays to increase the energy efficiency of the home, and generate your own energy now
H: I think the whole idea of generating your own electricity is fantastic. In terms of what Bosch is doing, looking forward to the future - what’s on the horizon Paula, what amazing –
B: I’m not sure I can tell you!
H: Assuming it’s not top secret, what are the amazing things that we’re going to be seeing?
B: Well there will be a lot of developments in the automobile industry, we’re seeing hybrid cars, electric cars coming along, much cleaner fuels. Combining of fuels, gasoline and ethanol for example, and then things like, you know future technologies in terms of photovoltaics, in terms of -
H: Just explain that, photovoltaics–
B: It’s not easy to say, but it’s basically – basically tiles that convert light into energy
H: So like solar –
B: It’s a very exciting development
H: But slightly different, that’s fantastic
A: Yes they’re the same thing but just a different form of that same kind of energy-producing technology
H: And I’m assuming look nicer on your home so that –
H: People don’t balk against them so much. Very clever –
H: And that’s obviously a way of overcoming someone’s objections really isn’t it? That’s good in the automotive way. Where do you think our homes are going to sit in 20 years time? Do you think a lot of us are going to have - are we going to have green homes in 20 years?
A: Well government have very ambitious plans to get all houses that can to have their lofts insulated fully, to the full 10 inches, and cavity wall insulation where there is cavity wall, cavity walls present, and so they’ll all be done. We’re looking now at looking at the solid walled homes, you know the Victorian terraces and the Edwardian and all the rest of it. They’re more difficult, they will need solid wall insulation. Government need – then needs to tackle those, and new build homes, not so much of a problem because they’ll be built very, very high new standards, so it’s looking at zero carbon homes for the future, so we’ve got a very ambitious plan but we’ve got a very ambitious target to get down to 80% less CO2 emissions by 2050, so we’ve got a lot to do.
H: Gary where do you think your organisation can come into this, in 20 years time what are we going to see in our homes, in every home up and down the land?
B: Well I think the pace of the technology is going to be – going to be significant, and you know we’re continuing to invest in that kind of technology to help governments and societies reach our environmental targets, and make things easier for consumers to play their part in that
H: Gary King and Dr Paula Owen, thank you very much indeed for joining us. If you would like more information, a couple of websites for you to check out, www.bosch.co.uk obviously as that’s who we’ve been talking about this afternoon and also if you want more ideas about energy-saving in your home go to www.energysavingtrust.co.uk and thank you for joining us on the program this afternoon, we’ll see you soon