Energy saving advice - ways to reduce your electricity and gas usage

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Energy saving tips that could cut your bills

There are four main courses of action that are the most effective if you’re looking to save money on your electricity and gas bills:

  1. Compare all available energy deals and switch to the cheapest one on offer for your household.
  2. Ensure your home is well insulated and as energy efficient as possible.
  3. Reduce your energy usage.
  4. Generate your own energy through renewable energy generation.

Reducing your energy usage typically involves adopting behavioural and lifestyle changes that lead to you using less energy. If you do so successfully, you’ll need to buy less energy from your supplier which should help you save money on your energy bills.

Once you’ve cut down on your energy usage, increasing the insulation in your home and making sure your appliances are energy efficient ensures you are making full use of the energy you do consume. All three measures need to work in tandem if you are to reduce your energy consumption as much as possible.

The following is a list of some of the most effective ways you could reduce the electricity and gas usage in your home.

Lighting

Lighting can account for 19% of the average household’s energy bill. Whether or not you opt to implement an energy-efficiency change by switching to LED or CFL bulbs, you’ll be able to reduce energy consumption by turning off lights whenever a room is empty – as well as ensuring lights throughout your home are turned off at night. If you have light bulbs that take a few seconds to reach optimum brightness, avoid the temptation to leave them on.

Thermostat

A typical household can save around 3% on its heating bill for every degree that the thermostat is turned down. To reduce the energy you use to heat your home, consider the following tips:

  • Keeping the heating on at a constant low heat rather than switching it on and off for bursts of high heat can save you money and is more energy efficient. 
  • Turn down your thermostat by one degree at a time over a couple of months, giving yourself time to get used to the change in temperature each time. 
  • Add an extra layer of bedding on your bed, or put on a light jumper while in the house.
  • Use the timer settings on your thermostat to plan your usage depending on what is going on at home. For example, you can keep heating low or off when there is no-one home, but can also turn down your thermostat if you’re expecting a lot of guests at your home. 
  • Investing in a smart thermostat such as Nest, Hive or Honeywell Evohome could be useful as they allow you to manage your thermostat remotely.

Water

A dripping hot water tap can produce enough water to fill half a bath in one week, wasting energy in the process. It is important to fix leaking taps as soon as they’re noticed, whether you do so yourself or call in a plumber. Further ways you can reduce your hot water usage include:

  • Always ensure all taps are fully turned off after each use.
  • As hot water takes energy to heat, try not to use hot water unless absolutely necessary, making sure not to waste it when you do use it.
  • Consider installing spray tap nozzles that are designed to dispense water as a fine spray, helping reduce the amount of water you need to use.

Shower and bath

Opt for a shower instead of a bath whenever possible to save water, and try to limit the amount of time you spend in the shower. Cutting down your shower from twenty minutes to ten minutes could cut your heating bills by 25%. Below are further things to think about when it comes to your shower and bath:

  • If you have a power shower, try turning down the pressure. A high-pressure power shower can sometimes use more water than running a bath.
  • If your shower takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank, try installing a water-efficient shower head to reduce your hot water usage, saving you both heating and water costs.

Fridges and freezers

  • Defrosting fridges and freezers regularly helps increase their efficiency. You might also use a vacuum cleaner to clean the condenser coils at the back of, or underneath your appliances to help prevent dust build-up.
  • To reduce your energy usage, ensure your fridge and freezer are well stocked – but not overfilled. The food helps insulate the appliances, allowing them to stay cooler without using as much energy, although they still need space to circulate air around the compartments.
  • Avoid putting warm food in your fridge or freezer as this makes the appliances work harder to cool the food.
  • Ensure the temperature inside the fridge remains between zero and five degrees centigrade, keeping in mind the optimum temperatures for each food group.
  • If you need to defrost something, place the frozen food in your fridge, as this can help cool the fridge and reduce the amount of energy it needs to use.

Cooking

  • Always use an appropriately-sized pot or pan by paying attention to the size of the rings or spider burners. Heating a small meal in a big pan, or a small pan on a big ring wastes energy, while heating a large pan on a small ring means the pan will take longer to heat, again wasting energy. 
  • Put lids on saucepans whenever possible during cooking to help retain the heat. This should also allow you to turn the heat down when cooking. 
  • A stacked steamer can help you cook more than one item on the same hob. 
  • If you have a gas hob, consider boiling water on the hob instead of in a kettle, as gas costs less than electricity. Make sure to switch off the hob as soon as the water has boiled.
  • Try to keep the oven door closed when cooking to prevent heat loss, but keep the door open after cooking to let the latent heat warm your kitchen. 
  • Try to bake a few meals at the same time when your oven is on.
  • You might consider cooking most of your meals using the microwave, which typically uses less energy than your stove or oven. 
  • When using your kettle, only boil as much water as you need while ensuring you cover the element at the bottom. This could save £7 a year. Consider buying an eco-kettle to save further. 
  • Remember to descale the kettle regularly to prevent limescale build-up, which can reduce efficiency.

Washing up

  • When washing up, you could save £32 per year if you use a large bowl instead of leaving the hot water running.
  • If you have a dishwasher, avoid pre-rinsing the plates, and only turn on the dishwasher when you have a full load. Use an economy setting if possible – in some dishwashers, this could save more energy than washing by hand.
  • Consider lowering the temperature of the dishwasher and skipping the drying stage – let your kitchenware air dry instead.

Laundry

  • Washing your clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40 could reduce your electricity usage by a third. 
  • Try to do laundry only when you have a full load as this uses less energy than regular half loads.
  • Consider skipping the tumble dryer or the drying stage if you have a multipurpose washing machine. Instead, hang clothing outside when possible, or use a drying rack or clothes horse inside your home. You can place the laundry close to – but not covering – radiators, or place them near a sunny window. 
  • If you would prefer to use the tumble dryer, try to use it sparingly – only for heavy clothing. Consider using tumble dryer balls, and wringing out your clothes beforehand, both of which can help reduce drying time. Clean out the lint filter in your tumble dryer every time you use the machine to ensure air circulates freely.
  • Take your clothes out of the dryer before they’re completely dry to reduce energy use and to speed up ironing.

General electrical appliances

You could save around £30 a year by remembering to turn off electrical appliances when they’re not being used, instead of leaving them on standby. Some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in so they can continue recording programmes when you’re not using the TV – check the manual to make sure. Electrical appliances continue to draw energy from the mains while they are plugged in, so you might consider going a step further and unplugging all appliances as well.

You might consider using power strips throughout your home so you can turn off more appliances at once. For further convenience, you might invest in a Smart Strip power strip which is designed to automatically shut off power when it notices that an appliance plugged into the strip has been switched off.

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