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Case study

How to insulate your home and save money with our energy saving champion Peter Tuson

We spoke to retired engineer Peter Tuson about the improvements he's made to his home, which have reduced his energy consumption and saved him money on bills.

Retired engineer Peter Tuson, aged 66, lives in North Hampshire with his wife Mei. 

They have been living in their 1950s dormer house since the 1980s. In 2005, Peter and Mei decided to start making changes to their house to improve the insulation. In the 17 years since, Peter has made many changes to the house, which have greatly reduced his energy use and saved him a lot of money.

He kindly agreed to share with us how he did it.

Peter Tuson and his wife, Mei, sat on a bench outside.

Why did you decide to make energy efficient home improvements?

Peter explains: “When I first started, I wanted to reduce my energy usage to save some money and encourage my family to use less energy.”

He adds: “Now the environment has come to be a much more pressing issue and it’s more important than ever to reduce the amount of energy we use. This is particularly important in a 1950s house; getting it up to a stage where anybody could come and live in it comfortably without using much energy is a good thing.”

What are the top three energy saving improvements you made?


Water tank insulation

From all the changes he’s made to his house, Peter thinks that insulating his water tanks is the most important.

He says: “When I heat up my water tanks, if they’re not properly insulated, that heat escapes into the loft instead of staying in the water.”

To prevent the heat from escaping, Peter insulated the tanks himself: “I built a wooden structure around them so that I could put the insulation from the top of the tanks all the way down to the floor. It means that the tanks themselves are now effectively part of the house, even though they’re in the loft. Also, heat is no longer lost through the loft floor below the tanks.

“I don’t have to use as much energy to keep the water warm and it saves a lot of money. I think that this is one of the major differences anybody with water tanks can make to their home.”

An self-build insulated water tank in an attic.

If you have a hot water cylinder that has less than 80mm (3 inches) of insulation, then you should consider adding some more. If you’d like to insulate your hot water tank, you could also consider using a jacket. A hot water cylinder jacket costs about £17, and fitting it is a straightforward job if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Insulating doors and windows

Peter has also insulated the doors and windows in his house. He started with the front door: “I built a sealant around the outside so that when the is door closed, it is sealed completely. And I did the same with the letter box, I put another letter box on the inside. So, it’s all double sealed.”

“Sealing the doors made quite a difference because it warmed up the downstairs quite a bit,” he adds.

A hand opening a letterbox.

He hired experts to double glaze the windows in his house, but he found that it was not enough for the windows in the side. He explains: “I also quadruple glazed the windows at the side of the house as they did not receive that much sun.”

He used his engineering knowledge to make his own glazing: “I made it with a PVC pane that I built a frame for, based on picture frames. These fit snugly on my windows.”

Peter holding a window frame he built himself.

Adding insulation to radiators

Peter and his wife also added reflector panels to their radiators, after reading some of the advice on our website: “We put a reflector behind and above the radiators, so that the heat gets reflected down. We found that it actually spreads the heat around the house much better.”

He was able to do this himself, finding the task quite easy and inexpensive.

Peter stood in front of a window with his hand on a radiator underneath the window.

How much did the improvements cost and have they helped you save on your energy bills?

Peter estimates that he invested around £1,000 on the improvements he made himself.

He had additional work carried out by experts, including insulation and installing double and triple glazing, which cost him around £4,000.

However, the money they’ve saved from the improvements adds up to around £12,500 over the 17 years. Peter also says that his gas use has reduced by 40%.

He has reinvested this money into solar panels, which he hopes will save him more money over time.

Peter stood outside next to an array of solar panels.

What advice would you give other people making home improvements?

If you’re thinking about making upgrades to your home to improve its energy efficiency, it can be difficult to know where to start. Peter advises: “Think about the amount of air escaping from the house first because the air is taking the temperature with it. So, it’s about finding all the leakage points around the windows, the doors, the pipes and so on and insulating it. That’s what I would focus on first.”

Why do you use Energy Saving Trust?

Peter has used our website on multiple occasions, and he finds it quite useful: “I use your website to try and pick up ideas, so I do recommend that people go to your website and get suggestions about what they can do and analyse them to make sure that it’s suitable for them.”

Want even more tips on how to improve your home? Check out our top energy saving ideas for extra recommendations on what you can do!

Last updated: 6 March 2024