Thirteen Ways to Save Energy

The cost of living is at its highest level in a decade, with household energy bills being the largest expense. From 1 April 2022, energy bills increased for around 22 million people in England, Scotland and Wales. Those on default tariffs paying by direct debit have seen see an increase of £693, while prepayment customers have seen an increase of £708. Neil Robinson (Technical Advisor) offers some suggestions about how consumers can save money (credit: Energy Saving Trust).

1. Switch off standby

You can save around £55 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode.

Almost all electrical appliances can be turned off at the plug without upsetting their programming. You may want to think about getting a standby saver or smart plug which allows you to turn all your appliances to standby in one go.

Check the instructions for any appliances you aren’t sure about. Some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in so they can keep track of any programmes you want to record. Electronic devices can account for 7-10% of your electricity bill when left on standby so get all those gadgets turned off. Items simply left plugged in such as phone chargers do use some energy when the sockets are left on so switch off sockets that you don’t want to use. TV’s and games consoles all use energy when on standby so if their sockets and extension cables are plugged in and left on it is worth considering power down devices - these are basically timer sockets and save energy by turning off certain areas where they are fitted at programmed times.

2. Turn off lights

Turn your lights off when you’re not using them or when you leave a room. This will save you around £20 a year on your annual energy bills. If you have not already then ensure you swap out old lights for LED lighting. These can offer a huge saving especially if you have a lot of downlights which are generally low voltage not LED. LED replacement lights are cheaper now, so if you're not using them then it's something you should seriously consider.

3. Careful with your washing

You can save around £28 a year from your energy bill just by using your washing machine more carefully:

  • Use your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures
  • Reduce your washing machine use by one run per week for a year

4. Avoid the tumble dryer

Avoid using a tumble dryer for your clothes. Dry clothes on racks inside where possible or outside in warmer weather to save £55 a year.

5. Spend less time in the shower

Keeping your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a typical household £65 a year on their energy bills.

6. Swap your bath for a shower

Some of us might enjoy a long soak in the bath, but swapping just one bath a week with a 4-minute shower could save you £11 a year on your energy bills.

7. Be savvy in the kitchen

Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen. But many of us will admit that we at least occasionally boil the kettle with more water than we’re going to use. Avoid overfilling the kettle and save yourself £11 a year on your electricity bill.

You could also consider fitting an aerator onto your existing kitchen tap to reduce the amount of water coming out without affecting how it washes or rinses. An aerator is a small gadget with tiny holes – they attach to the spout of taps and are cheap and easy to install – and could save you £22 a year.

8. Fill your dishwasher

Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the amount of water you use. Reducing your dishwasher use by one run per week for a year could save you £14.

9. Bleed your radiators

Bleeding your radiators not only makes your home warmer but can also reduce the cost of your energy bills. This makes your heating system more efficient by removing any air pockets. This also reduces the pressure in your system and means you don't have to turn the heating up as much.

10. Radiator Reflective foil

Place reflective foil behind your radiators. This will help reflect heat back into the room rather than out towards the wall. It is a fairly swift low-cost measure that will make a large difference to most houses. If you have not done this then I would recommend you try this in one room just to see the difference. It is in my mind well worth the cost, especially in older uninsulated houses.

11. Turn down your thermostat

Almost half the money spent on energy bills is absorbed by heating and hot water costs. Turning your heating down by just one degree could save up to £80 a year.

12. Blinds and Curtains

Blackout blinds can act as a barrier to heat loss in the same manner as good quality lined curtains. These should be closed fully during the evening and placed behind radiators not in front of them.

13. Monitor your usage

Buy an energy monitor. Don’t confuse these with a smart meter - a good energy monitor will tell you when you have items switched on. This can indicate where energy is being wasted by items that you thought were switched off, but are still using electricity. Smart meters tell you how much energy you have used and what it's costing you. They are not accurate enough to detail what is actually using all the energy.