With the cost of living increasing, we’ve been thinking a lot about saving money on household bills. Here are a few top tips on cutting costs.
Houses are now getting far more reliant on electronic devices. Plenty of properties now have: Alexa Echo’s, WiFi Speakers, WiFi Bulbs, multiple TV’s, Games Consoles, Mobiles, Device Specific Battery chargers and this is on top of standard household appliances such as white goods and kitchen appliances.
It’s easy to see why energy usage is on the rise. So here are a few tips on how to reduce your electric usage where you can.
Turn Sockets Off
Leaving devices in standby mode still uses energy, it’s better to turn the socket off. With laptops, shutting a lid will keep the device on and in sleep mode, it’s best to turn it off.
Wall chargers for mobiles, portable games consoles, are still using energy when the device is not plugged in, so turn the socket off. Whilst some wall chargers are smart enough to know when a device is fully charged and turn themselves off, most won’t.
Any white goods & appliances should also be turned off at the socket, maybe best leaving the fridge freezer on! But anything else, is best turned off at the socket when not in use. The lack of electrical sounds / lights can also improve sleep.
Statistics show an average family home can save up to £200 per year by turning sockets off.
Leaving a games console on standby can cost £0.03p a day – This is £11 per year you could save by turning it off at the socket.
Computer / Laptop Energy Saving
Most computers have an energy saving section within their settings. Computer screens consume energy and can cause damage to themselves if left on for long periods of time. Screensavers are used to prevent screen burn and reduce energy consumption. Desktop Computers on average cost around £15 per year to run.
It’s wise to get screen savers on as quick as you can, and don’t be afraid of shutting the machine down more regularly. Reduce brightness where possible can also reduce energy consumption.
Laptops don’t like being left on and in sleep mode. Laptops can also get very hot when in transit / cases – it’s best to shut it down. Doing this will also save battery and in turn reduce charging time, and reduce energy usage.
When your appliance is due for renewal, consider replacing the appliance with a more energy efficient model. Fridges with energy labels A+++ will consume up to 80% less than a rating D. Over time, a few pounds spent on a purchase will save you in the long run, so always opt for the most energy efficient appliance.
Don’t forget to defrost your fridge every 6 months. A build-up of ice could seriously damage the efficiency of your fridge / freezer. Regular defrosting can help reduce damage and save you purchasing a new appliance.
Tumble Dryers / Washers
They might be a huge convenience when you’re needing something washed and dried last minute, but tumble dryers are notorious for racking up your energy bills. Upon purchasing a new appliance, always check the energy rating.
When you do go to use your tumble dryer, make sure it’s a full load to maximise efficiency. Vented tumble dryers work more efficiently than condensers, so if you can, its really worth getting that damp moist air outside as quick as possible.
And if you can, try and cut down on your use of it – whether that’s by using drying racks around your home, or by making most of the sunny days and hanging your washing outside.
Boil what you need! It’s pointless boiling 5 cups of water when you only require 2. It may save time refilling the kettle, but ultimately you’re burning more fuel.
Try not to forget you turned the kettle on, forgetting and re boiling the kettle is very wasteful. Every time you do that, you are spending an extra 2.5p. If you do that three times a day, that’s £27 across the year – making tea and coffee very expensive.
Go for LED… LED TVs are far more efficient to run and use nearly 80% less power than a standard bulbed or even LCD TVs. Whilst turning a TV off at the socket will save energy, you can also save a lot of energy by choosing the more efficient technology. Similar to fridges and freezers, TVs also come with an energy rating.
Be mindful of choosing the right size TV for the room, smaller rooms really don’t need large TV’s. Sales and marketing will suggest the bigger, the better, but is that true? Larger TV’s will use more energy, so pick wisely.
A combination of good tech, ideal sizing, turning the socket off when not used and a purchasing a TV from a reputable sustainable brand will ensure your TV usage is as optimised as it can be.
Lights / Lamps
It’s an obvious one, but as with TV’s, LED bulbs are ultimately the best energy efficient lights in the home.
Every 50-watt halogen bulb that is swapped for an LED alternative saves households £3 a year. Lamps and spotlights can also be switched to LED so make sure you stock up on new LED bulbs. Not only are they more efficient, they also last a heck of a lot longer so you save in the long run on new bulbs.
Early LED bulbs were white and often a little bright for home use, but you can now purchase warm glow LED bulbs, that fit nicer into a cosy home.
Gas / Home Heating
Investing in a smart thermostat is a great way to control how much energy you’re using through your central heating.
Thermostats can be set from your phone, letting you control the temperature from afar. Put your heater on a timer, so you’re not overspending without even realising.
Modern apps such as Hive / Nest have GPS ring-fence triggers, that can alert you that your heating is on when you’ve left the home.
This works both ways, and an alert can trigger on your smart device to let you know your heating is off, and you are returning home. This allows you to start and stop heating when you leave and return.
Investing in a more energy-efficient, A-rated condensing boiler could save you up to £300 per year. A new style boiler could pay for itself within 3 years use.
Setting your heating on a timer and turning the dial to 1 degree below your usual temperature can save you a huge £80 per year. More modern boilers will also change the Energy Performance Certification of your home. Read more about EPC’s here: https://coppenwall.com/epc-reports
Ensure that your radiators aren’t being covered by furniture, as this can block heat from filling your home. A sofa or bulky chair will trap heat, meaning you’re paying for the warmth but not feeling the benefit of it.
Most radiators can be adjusted per room nowadays, and with modern systems you can even control individual rooms via an app. It’s far more efficient to only heat the rooms you need heating.
Simple tasks such as bleeding your radiators will help to ensure they’re working efficiently.
As you would put a jacket on to guard yourself against frosty temperatures, the same applies to your pipes and hot water tank. All you need to do is purchase a tank jacket, which can help you save on money by keeping your water hot.
You should also consider insulating your pipes, especially if you have any external pipes outside your home – very cold weather could cause these pipes to freeze, causing warps or cracks as well as potentially very expensive damage to your entire heating system.
Invest in foam tubing, or ‘lagging’, that wraps around the pipes, to protect them from extreme temperatures and keep your water hot.
DIY & Property Maintenance
If you want to stop heat escaping from your home, insulating your roof is a great way to combat this. Retaining the heat inside your home means you could shave up to £130 off your energy bills each year.
This could cost several hundred pounds to implement, but will save you a fortune in the long term. A well insulated attic could also change your properties Energy Performance Rating: Read more about EPC’s here: https://coppenwall.com/epc-reports
Keep the cold air out and the warm air in by implementing some draught-proofing DIY. Consider items such as draught excluders, chimney caps, self-adhesive window strips, and remember to close doors to rooms that aren’t in use too, to help get rid of any chills.
Sometimes the old tricks are best, like the sausage dog draught excluders, and thicker well-fitted curtains.
You can also use rubber weather-stripping to fill spaces between the sides and bottom of your door and the door frame. If the space between the bottom of the door and your floor is extra-large you can also use a brushed draft stopper.
For external doors, ensure that your keyhole, letterbox, or cat flaps are covered. These small additions can make a big difference to your home’s insulation and can be picked up for a few pounds from your local hardware store.
It’s not just the cracks under our door that heat can escape from – heat is prone to drifting upwards through cracks in floorboards.
This is especially true of older houses that have genuine wooden timber floorboards. Rugs are a cheap, and stylish way of preventing heat from escaping.
Blackout curtains are a sure way of keeping your home insulated. If you’re perfectly happy with your current style of curtain, you can simply add fleece / Cotton liner to your existing curtains.
TOP TIP: Keep the curtains open during daylight hours to let the sunlight in and add natural heat to your home, but when the sun sets, draw your curtains.
Common Questions Answered
Should I put reflective panels behind my radiator?
Reflective panels can work to conserve energy by bouncing heat back into the room, however, this only really works for external walls as they prevent heat from escaping outside. If you live in a semi-detached or terrace house, you’ll see little improvement by putting reflective panels behind radiators on internal walls, or walls that you share with the neighbouring house.
If you do decide to install reflective panels, it’s important to use a purpose-built product that you can buy from a DIY shop. Placing materials such as plastic on a radiator can be dangerous since they run the risk of melting and burning.
Will installing a smart meter save energy or reduce costs?
It will not in itself save energy or reduce costs. However, by having a smart meter installed you see how much energy you’re using and therefore identify how to lower your usage by changing day-to-day behaviour.
Should I turn off the hot water when I’m not using it?
There really isn’t any saving to be had by turning your hot water on and off. It’s better to make sure that your boiler tank has a good insulating jacket so that the water doesn’t require reheating. For those on an Economy 7 tariff where energy is cheaper at night, you can make some savings by setting your water heater to come on at night for use during the day.
Is it cheaper to wash my clothes at night?
Again, this is one where it depends on the type of tariff you have. If you are on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff it will be cheaper since you’ll pay less for your energy at night. But for most of us, running the washing machine at night doesn’t make any difference to the cost or the amount of energy used.
Will I save energy by installing carpets in every room?
Yes. Carpets are a very effective way of insulating your home and the better insulated your home, the fewer heat escapes and therefore it takes less energy to keep your home warm. While installing carpet in every room would help your home stay warmer, it’s probably best to stick to carpeting rooms you spend a lot of time in. Most likely, bedrooms or living rooms are best since nobody wants to clean food from a carpet in the kitchen after cooking dinner.
Should I leave the heat on low all day instead of on high for a short time?
This is a very common myth as it takes a lot of energy to keep your radiators warm all day. It’s best to only heat your home when you’re there to feel the benefit. Many have the option to programme the central heating to come on and turn off at certain times. Try setting the heating to come on half an hour before you normally wake up so you don’t have to dread pulling off your bedsheets.
Should I leave the hot tub on all the time?
Similar with heating, Hot tubs consume large amounts of electrical energy to heat up, we’ve had this debate in our house and personally we found it’s best to leave the hot tub on, albeit at a slightly lower temperature, then increase a few hours before use.
During late autumn and winter it is best to turn it off and secure it, ready for the warmer months.
It’s also worth investing in an outside warm water tap, as this will be a far more efficient of refilling the tub than using a kettle.
Can wedging a sponge in the letterbox or cling film around the windows help?
While it’s a little on the extreme side, these can actually help save energy by conserving heat, stopping it from escaping outside. The cling film acts as a protective layer and the sponge blocks gaps where heat might escape through the door.
Draught-proofing your home is a very simple way to minimise energy consumption as a warmer home decreases the likelihood of you reaching for the thermostat, and can be achieved without reaching for items more suited to the kitchen.
Should I paint my radiators black?
There is no evidence to suggest that the colour of your radiator affects the heat output. To get the most out of your radiators, avoid placing large furnishings such as a bed or sofa directly in front, as this will likely absorb the heat and you’ll find it takes longer to heat your home.
We hope you can take some inspiration / advice from this post. A healthy, efficient home is a happy home.