We all want to save money on our home energy bills. In addition, most (if not all...I hope!) of us want to reduce our carbon footprint to help protect the planet by lowering our energy usage.
So, what can be done? Here, with our energy saving tips, we start with 3 key simple check-points to ensure your bills are accurate, that you're able and aware to the key areas where energy is consumed and that you're paying the lowest price possible for the energy you use. In summary:
Accurate energy bills
Awareness of consumption
Actively seeking a better energy deal
Regularly providing meter readings or installing a smart meter ensures you pay only for what you use, avoiding estimated bills and potential debt.
Being aware of your energy consumption, possibly with the help of an energy monitor, can help identify areas where you can save energy.
Actively seeking cheaper energy deals can prevent you from overpaying on your energy bills, as staying on a supplier's default tariff often means higher costs.
Accurate energy bills
Let's start with a basic here, which won't necessarily help you use less energy but it could help ensure you only pay for the energy you use. In doing so, it will also help avoid being in debt which can be a blocker to your energy switch.
To do this, you need to take one of two lines of action:
Get a Smart Meter installed (SMETS2 essential to ensure operability when switching between suppliers)
Smart Meters are designed to abolish estimated bills by providing your energy supplier with real-time usage data. In doing so, your bills will remain accurate at all times helping to avoid energy debt building up. Government plans are that we will all have (or at least have been offered) a Smart Meter by 2024. To get one, contact your existing supplier to arrange a free installation.
Provide regular meter readings to your existing supplier
This is a 5 minute job at best once you know where your energy meters are. Simply make a note of the reading on the meter and call your supplier OR enter it online through your online energy account. For gas meters, you may need to convert the units which can be done using our handy gas units converting calculator.
Awareness of energy consumption
We each need to be more aware of the energy we use in our homes and to take sufficient steps to reduce our energy consumption and therefore carbon footprint. In our experience, a fun and interesting way to do this is to use a home energy monitor OR the in-house display unit provided with your Smart Meter. A simple exercise of taking the device around your home and switching on different appliances will help you become more aware to the energy vampires in your home e.g. microwaves, tumble driers and hair driers.
Actively seeking a cheaper deal
The reality in the energy market is that apathy only benefits one party...the energy supplier themselves. If you've never switched energy suppliers, or not switched for more than a year, it is highly likely (if not a guarantee) that you are overpaying on your energy bills and sat languishing on a suppliers default tariff. These energy tariffs carry higher unit rates (the price you pay per unit of energy used) and will often be variable meaning you are fully exposed to market fluctuations. It is therefore imperative you compare energy prices and are aware of better deals in the market.
Energy saving tips in the family home
Now, with the 3 key checks out of the way, let's focus on the other energy saving steps you can take to actually reduce your consumption and therefore help play your part in reducing your carbon footprint.
We feel it's easier to split this guide in to areas of the house so feel free to jump around to the relevant section as you see fit:
Windows & Doors
Only fill the kettle up to the level you require. The more water you add, the longer the heating process takes and therefore the more energy you will consume.
Steam & stack your pans to utilise the heat of one hob rather than several. If you're cooking with several pans e.g. for the Sunday roast, stacking can play a big part in using less energy as well as saving space on top of the over.
Don't soak your dishes. We've all filled our sink, left the dishes to soak and then returned to cold water that then needs topping up. As well as the energy to heat this water, it's also going to cost more in water if you're on a water meter. Roll up your sleeves and get it done in one sitting...or standing!
Leave hot water in the sink. You've paid for the water to be heated so let it sit there as a sort of open-top radiator rather than flushing that hot water down the drain.
Defrost your food thoroughly. Putting frozen or cold food straight from your fridge freezer in to your oven will mean it takes longer to cook and therefore use more energy.
Open up the oven door after cooking to let that heat circulate around the house. Keeping it locked up in an oven is a waste and means it will simply sit there and cool.
Wash your clothes at 30oC. The higher you wash your clothes the more you're spending to heat up the water again using more energy.
Wash when you need to wash. Do you really need to wash that t-shirt you wore for 2 hours to nip to the shops lastnight? Get more use out of it...we won't tell anyone!
Air dry your clothes where possible. Don't opt for the tumble drier for speed. It is a huge drain on your electricity consumption and risks shrinking your clothes.
Shower and make it quick. A 3 minute power shower is ample time to get clean and will reduce energy consumption as well as save water.
Turn the tap off. Don't leave taps running. If you're running water to wash your hands, use the cold water tap. Don't trigger the boiler to kick in a few seconds of hot water that may not even reach the tap by the time you're done.
Windows & Doors
Shut the door. The heat loss experienced by leaving the front door open when you nip out to the car can be significant as you're allowing cold air to blow in and lower the temperature of your house.
Close doors to unoccupied rooms. If you're not using them, you don't need to heat them.
Upgrade your windows to double-glazing. If you've got single glaze or old uPVC windows it might be time for an upgrade to keep your home warmer and keep the cold out.
Use a draught excluder. These really can make a difference around a poorly sealed door to ensure it's draught proof and the warm air remains in the house.
If you don't want double-glazing and have single glazed windows, draught exclusion strips are cheap and very easy to fit to seal any gaps. They also help with blocking out sound. Trust me...I've done it!
Only have radiators on in rooms you occupy. You're wasting energy heating radiators upstairs whilst you sit watch TV in the front room which further adding to your heating bill.
Bedrooms should be kept to ~18oC to aide sleep so consider setting radiators lower in these rooms OR off altogether.
Smart thermostats are a great way to improve the control over your heating system enabling you to control your heating and hot-water even when you're not at home. A great tool for switching off the heating when you're out of the house but also to set it on when you're driving home from the airport after a week away during mid-Winter.
Reflective sheets behind radiators. Another cheap option to help reflect the heat from your radiator back in to the room rather than to be absorbed in to the walls.
Set your heating to be off when you're not at home. This includes the timing for your hot water tank.
Put some clothes on! Reach for the wardrobe before you reach for the thermostat. Don't be complaining of the cold if you're wearing a t-shirt and bare feet. Sock, slippers and a jumper make a big difference.
Install energy-saving lightbulbs. LED lighting can cost a little more but the life-time of the bulbs is significantly better.
Dim your lights. Not only can this assist with your sleep to ensure you're not being exposed to too much light in the evening but it will help ensure your bills reduce too. Learn from our Danish friends and their admiration for Hyyge (Hoo-ga) and their love of candles to set a comfortable ambiance.
Use candles. Soothing and cheap (see above).
Insulate your loft. The equivalent to putting a hat on your head in the winter. Keep the warmth in by putting down 250-270mm of loft insulation (glass or mineral wool).
Insulate your walls. There are still plenty of schemes available to get this done for free if you meet certain criteria. Cavity wall insulation fills the gap between your walls (the cavity) with tiny beads of polystyrene to help keep the warmth in and the cold out.
Solar. Our giver of life will provide us with energy for the next 5 billion years. It's time we utilise this sustainable energy source and, where we can, to take advantage of the growing number of ways you can have solar panels installed either as "able-to-pay" or through Green Energy schemes.
Wind turbines. If you have land sufficient to install a wind turbine, this can be another great way to neutralise your carbon footprint.
There you have it. Our list of energy saving tips to ensure you keep your energy bills, and your overall household energy usage, to an absolute minimum. Saving you money, reducing your carbon emissions and helping the environment.
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