Using the power of marginal gains to control energy bills
With energy prices going up, applying a marginal gains strategy to energy efficiency could help tackle rising costs.
Any fan of cycling will know about the power of marginal gains. British Cycling was revolutionised by adopting a strategy of looking for 1% improvements in every area that affected competition. From choosing the best pillow to get a good night’s rest, to painting the inside of the team truck white to stop dust gathering and affecting bike performance, nothing was left to chance. On their own, each change made little difference. But together they created a dominant, world-beating team.
With energy prices going up, applying a marginal gains strategy to energy efficiency could help tackle rising costs. The recently announced government package of support will help offset some of the increases, but the sustainable way to tackle rising energy costs is to cut back on the energy we use.
This doesn’t mean we have to turn everything off in our homes – it means being more energy efficient as we go about our daily lives. It’s where making lots of small changes can make a big difference.
As simple as changing a lightbulb?
We have some of the oldest and draughtiest homes in Europe. Trying to heat them effectively is like riding an old bike with soft tyres – it takes a lot of energy. So, what marginal gains can you make that collectively have a big impact on energy efficiency?
You can improve the performance of your home by draught-proofing windows, doors and letter boxes. Special balloons even act as draught excluders for your chimney. Installing the right loft insulation and putting rugs over draughty floorboards or cold hardwood flooring also cuts down on heat loss.
According to the Energy Savings Trust, lighting accounts for roughly 11% of a typical electricity bill. It estimates that swapping halogen light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs could cut bills by £55 a year. Replacing older appliances with energy efficient ones can also have a big impact on bills, according to Which?.
Innovation agency Nesta found that turning a gas boiler down to a flow temperature of 54°C (most boilers run at between 60-80°C) keeps your home as warm but cuts energy usage – and your bills – by up to 8%.
Like an elite athlete, changing your own habits can also improve home energy efficiency. Having shorter showers, only boiling the amount of water you need in a kettle, avoiding using a tumble dryer and batch cooking meals all make a difference. Individual behavioural changes offer small gains, but together they add up to a much bigger impact.
There are lots more things you can do to cut home energy usage. Look for changes that suit your type of home and lifestyle that are easiest to make. With energy prices set to increase throughout 2022 and perhaps beyond, it’s worth making lots of small, sustainable changes now to be ready for the energy cost challenge this winter.
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