Saving the planet is one thing — but saving the pennies is a bigger priority for most of us.However, with fuel prices on the up and up, saving money by saving energy doesn't have to be a major challenge, so you needn't feel daunted by the ground-breakers who blithely talk about switching to wind turbines or ground source heat pumps.
Indeed, you can shave as much as £300 off your fuel bill every year with just a few simple measures that are available to virtually everyone.
For a start, switch electrical appliances off at the socket instead of hitting stand-by — it could save up to £70 a year.
Switching off your set-top box and printer will save around £15 apiece in electricity every year, while stereos and PCs left on stand-by can consume around £10 each a year.
Switch off your microwave to save £7 a year, TV or computer speakers to save £5, mobile phone charger to save £6 and the washing machine to save £2 — it all adds up.
You can cut an impressive £110 — or 15% — off your annual heating bill by insulating your loft to a depth of 270mm, or 11in. Another £90 could be saved by installing cavity wall insulation. If your house was built between the 1920s and 1980s, it could be a candidate for this form of insulation which could slash up to £90 from your annual heating bill.
Kerstie Forsyth, from NIE Energy, says: "NIE Energy has a scheme giving up to £300 cashback towards installing insulation.
Installing or indeed topping up your loft insulation is one of the simplest energy-saving measures to save you money.
"The proof of the savings to be had comes from Energy Saving Trust figures. If you currently have no loft insulation and you install the recommended 27cms depth, you could save between £180-£220 a year off your heating bills and nearly 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per year.
"Even if you already have some insulation installed, you will still save between £50-60 a year by increasing the insulation you have from 5cms to 27cms."
Choose energy saving light bulbs — just one can save you up to £60 over the lifetime of the bulb — and they last around 10 times longer than ordinary light bulbs. Turn down your thermostat to save around £40 per year. Reducing your room temperature by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%.
It's also recommended that you fit radiator panels to claw back some of that heat that would otherwise be lost outside your house. As the radiator warms up, it warms the wall behind it and the heat is transferred to the outside of the wall where it is lost.
Kerstie says: "Fitting radiator panels behind radiators makes the most of your heating.
They encourage the heat back into the room and not out through the wall."
You could also save up to £10 and around 60kg of CO2 a year by installing Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs). These sense the air temperature around them and regulate the flow of hot water entering the radiators to keep a set temperature in a room.
To learn more about saving energy, check out the NIE Energy website www.nieenergy.co.uk, the EST website www.est.org.uk or call the Energy Saving Trust on freephone 0800 512 012