Bank Holiday DIY: How to make your home more energy efficient on a budget

Happy bank holiday Monday everyone! Are you doing some DIY today?? Want to minimise your energy bills while still keeping your home warm and bright? Here are a few ways – including some smart tech ideas – that’ll help you to cut costs straight away and make living in your home easier than ever…I’ve now lived in my home for a full year. Blimey that year went fast! I’ve owned the house for longer, but we couldn’t move in until the bathroom was remodelled. If you’ve seen the ‘before’ photos in my bathroom renovation blog posts, you’ll understand why! We tackled that project over Easter last year and it took a full 9 days of graft to finish the room. And I’m glad that we did, because we wouldn’t have been able to live in the house with that kind of disruption. To put it in context, we moved in before tackling the kitchen… and that room still isn’t decorated!

Throughout the year, we’ve been gradually renovating the rooms one-by-one (did I mention that our house is a real fixer-upper?) and it’s amazing what a lick of paint can do to transform a space. At the same time, we’ve been sorting out the energy fixtures and the heating fittings as we go. We’ve been swapping crumbling plug sockets for new ones with USB ports, adding energy efficient lighting throughout the house and switching creaky old radiators for new ones with high BTU ratings.You won’t believe the difference that these simple swaps – that needed doing anyway – have made to our home. It’s considerably warmer, much lighter and, amazingly, our energy costs have gone down. The old fixer-upper house we’d bought was a real energy guzzler, using oodles of gas to run the outdated heating system and megawatts of electricity to power ancient appliances. As someone whose life revolves around being thrifty, it really pained me to switch on lighting, devices or heating and know that I was wasting money.

So, with today’s bank holiday on the horizon, I knew it was time to start up the DIYing again! I started looking into energy-saving and energy-efficiency measures. I wasn’t going to lose any more money on my bills – not if I could help it. And it turns out that I could. My research took me to the EDF Energy Efficiency Guide for Homeowners and there I discovered a valuable resource for cutting costs on bills. It’s well worth a quick read, and here’s why…

There are countless easy-to-implement tips on getting the most out of your heating system on the website to keep your home toasty while also saving you money on your monthly heating bill (and no, you don’t have to replace all the radiators!) I also discovered plenty of simple ways that you can slash energy costs instantly, and who doesn’t want to put cash straight back into their wallet if they can, eh? As I read through the guide, I really couldn’t just how easy these tips were to implement, and I was excited to begin saving money straight away.

After a year of living in a home, you really know how much running the household is going to cost you. And, at that point, it’s a great idea to begin making changes so that you can see the effect month-on-month. If you’ve been living in your house for longer, just look back over the past year’s energy bills to give you a starting point. This figure CAN be slashed, I promise you! Even if you think your home is already rather energy efficient, there will be a way that you can make it even more efficient and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.Take, for example, the advice on improving the efficiency of your existing appliances. It’s common sense really, but not many people know how to get the most out of the electrical devices they use every day. I couldn’t believe it when I found out that I could use 40% less electricity when washing my clothes! Seriously, take a look at the energy efficiency guide and start saving money right now. Why wait a moment longer??Now that I’ve made all the recommended changes I can, I’m actually looking forward to my next energy bill to find out how much I’m saving. All the little changes soon add up and I’m excited to save the money that I’ve been wasting over the past year. But I’m not going to stop there. My plan is to get smart about energy – yes, I’m talking about using smart technology to take control of my energy usage.

I’ve discovered the Connect+Control2 energy tariff that comes with a free Amazon Echo and HeatSmart thermostat to help you keep track of energy use and control your heating with smart technology. The thermostat is installed by a professional (thank goodness, because I think that’s one DIY project I wouldn’t be able to tackle myself) and can be linked up to your smartphone and Echo device so that it can be controlled wherever you are.

I SO want to upgrade my inefficient old system

I’ve been looking into smart tech for my home because I want to make it as energy efficient as possible, and I love the idea of changing temperature settings and turning the heating on and off as needed. Using my old thermostat timer settings means I don’t have as much control over the heating as I’d like. It’s set to come on at intervals throughout the day, whether it’s needed or not. If the day turns out to be warm and sunny, I don’t really need the radiators to start glowing. But, at the moment, there’s not much I can do about the heating coming on with the timer while I’m out of the house. If only I had an app on my smart phone, eh?

Even if I’m at home, I’d have to leave my office while I’m working to go downstairs to the thermostat box and press the override button to turn off the heating. And to be completely honest, I almost never bother to do it. How much easier would it be if I could just tell Alexa to do it for me? Of course, you can use the still Amazon Echo that comes free with this energy tariff for all the usual functions as well; playing music, setting alarms, making calls, reading the news etc.I’m pretty sure that switching to a smart energy tariff and installing all the smart tech that comes free with it is a sensible thing to do. Just the fact that I won’t have to pay a penny for installing the smart tech is a money-saving bonus for me. And once my new smart system is in place, it’ll help me cut my energy costs even more. Ahh, I love saving money!

Let me know your own tips for saving energy around your home in the comments below and I’d love to hear your experiences of using smart tech to keep your house energy efficient so please do share your stories.

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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