According to the latest government Price and Bill Impacts Report, which reviews the cost and usage of domestic gas and electricity, the average household bill has risen by 41% and 20% respectively since 2007 and shows little sign of slowing down. There certainly seems to be no indication that prices will be reduced.
The majority of household energy budgets are being spent on temperature regulation, but simple changes throughout the home can have a real impact, not only in reducing the financial costs, but the environmental costs too.
A number of measures are being taken by homeowners to limit their fuel expenses. Changing energy suppliers to a fixed-rate tariff, installing loft insulation and simply fitting lights with energy efficient light bulbs or turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees, all make a difference in the course of a year.
However, the majority of heat loss experienced can be attributed to windows.
Replacing or upgrading windows can be a very costly affair, especially if you live in a conservation area and although newer glazing panels are more efficient in retaining heat, it will be years before the cost of installation will be recovered by energy bill reductions. A far more efficient and low-cost alternative is to fit windows, particularly those in conservatories, with well-fitted blinds or shutters.
Development in fabric technologies mean that quality internal blinds and shutters are well equipped to regulate the temperature of any room.
Research into the effectiveness of conservatory blinds carried out by Glasgow Caledonian University and backed by the British Blind and Shutter Association found that well-fitted, internal blinds and shutters could reduce heat lost through glazing by as much as 40%, which could mean substantial reductions in household heating costs and carbon emissions.
Window shutters and conservatory roof blinds from Thomas Sanderson are particularly effective where large expanses of glass, such as those in sunrooms and conservatories, are fitted properly. Look for:
Shutters made from lightweight PVCu and blinds which are made from double-layered energy smart fabrics are the most effective window treatments for insulation. In addition, they block excessive sunlight out during the summer months which will reduce energy bills by limiting the need for fans and air conditioning.
If you have children at home, opt for cordless or automated, remote controlled blinds which make it safe and easy to regulate the temperature in a room from anywhere in the house, especially in glazed areas that are hard to reach such as conservatory roofs and Velux windows.
Spend a little extra and get any shutters or blinds installed by a professional. In order to maximise their insulation properties, it is vital than they are well-fitted.
Choose a style and colour that is aesthetically pleasing; well-made blinds and shutters will last decades.
If you, like many other homeowners in the UK are serious about cutting energy consumption and carbon emissions, address your windows first; taking steps now to insulate your windows from heat loss will cut your energy bills immediately and could save you thousands of pounds over their lifetime.