Homes & Tech Saving energy

Top 10 Places Your Home Wastes Energy–and How to Fix Them


By Nick Miles

Climate change means that miserable winters are going on and on and on in most of northern Europe. This is a complete drag, not only because we are being denied good times on pub patios and the use of our springtime wardrobes, but also because we’re paying a lot more to heat our homes.

While there isn’t much we can do to stabilise the climate, or even to convince energy companies to lower their tariffs, there is quite a lot we can do to ensure we pay as little as possible for heating and electricity. When you know where you’re wasting energy in your home, you’re well on your way to saving money on your bills. Here are the top 10 places your home wastes energy, and how to fix them:

1. Roof

You should insulate your roof for the same reason you’d wear a hat in winter: a home loses a lot of heat through the top. Heat rises, and if it is not trapped by insulation, it literarily disappears into the sky.

2. Floor

Porous timber floors look great but allow cold draughts, which very often means that no matter how much you heat your living area, it will still feel cold and uncomfortable. Thick carpeting is the best solution.

3. Windows

In listed properties and 18th and 19th century homes, windows tend to be of grand design, but not very good for keeping out the effects of those howling winds unless they are properly sealed. Even double glazed windows installed in the 70’s and 80’s tend to condense after a few years of use, which means replacements shouldn’t be out of consideration. Heavy curtains can also help.

4. Doors

Any door exposed to the outside or an unheated corridor or room will be the first place your will lose energy. Unless the door is draught-proofed, any heat in your home will escape very quickly. In France, thick velvet curtains are often put behind draughty doors, lending an air of grandeur and keeping the cold out.

5. Keyholes

Not an obvious candidate, but many doors that have a cylindrical shaft also tend to let in a lot of cold air. On a windy day you may even hear the howling wind as the sound travels through the key hole. Not only unpleasant, but also scary! Change locks to modern day ones whenever possible.

Sure, they're pretty, but chimneys lose a lot of energy from your home

Sure, they’re pretty, but chimneys lose a lot of energy from your home

6. Chimneys

Today, most chimneys in urban homes are for decorative purposes, or they house a gas furnace that is hardly turned on. However, if your chimney was never draught-proofed after use, it may explain why your living room feels so cold in the winter.

7. Lighting

If you have grand chandeliers in the hallway, it is quite likely you are still using incandescent light bulbs and consuming quite a bit of energy every time you flick the lights on. Inefficient lighting wastes heat and racks up high electricity bills.

8. Heating system

If your boiler is over 10 years old, you are not doing yourself any favours. It’s these old types of boilers than can potentially waste 30 – 50% more energy than new condensing alternatives. What are you waiting for? Modernise it!

9. Lack of a thermostat

Having a temperature of between 18- 21C in hallways is considered ideal. But if you don’t have that thermostat then you don’t know if you are going wrong. We recommend the Nest thermostat: the best in the business, it can be controlled via smartphone, and is super-stylish too.

10. Walls

Most European are 50 years or older, which means they are quite poor at trapping heat and can cost quite a bit of money in heating bills.  Make sure your walls are well insulated.



For more tips on how to save energy in your home, visit

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  • Reply
    michael langley
    Mar 27, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    These tips are good, but maybe it’s best to just move into new build homes. Europe is so full of unbelievably inefficient homes. Time to plough them down and build new ones that are more energy efficient!

    • Reply
      Sep 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Agree that European homes are inefficient in general, but they can be made more efficient without having to knock them down and start anew (not the most eco-friendly solution, no?). Plus, they are part of our heritage, and are rather beautiful! 🙂

  • Reply
    Lu Rahman, Energy & Environment mag
    Sep 20, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Great to see energy efficiency being written about. The more we do to protect the energy in our homes, the better. And of course, it helps save the pound in our pockets – which has to be a good thing! Whatever type of home we have, there are measures we can out in place to save energy. There is also of course the government’s flaghsip scheme the Green Deal to help us all save money through installing technologies such as insulation via loans based on property rather than people.

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