This article was written by Peter Earl, from the Energy Team and first published by Compare the Market on October 13, 2020. Great tips that we wanted to share with you this year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been spending a lot more time cooped up inside. This has resulted in higher spending on gas and electricity, particularly during the height of lockdown.
With small pockets across the country being asked to return to their homes again, now is as good a time as any to begin prepping for any future quarantine periods. Check out our useful COVID-specific energy-saving advice to learn how to keep your bills down.
Did you know, the average household is said to waste as many as 7,374 hours of electricity every year when a device is left on standby?
Stuck at home, we’re bound to be using our electronic devices more often. Whether that’s while you work, or just because you’re binging the latest Netflix hit. It’s natural to leave the likes of laptops, phones, televisions, routers and even printers turned on in the background.
A smart power strip is the perfect way to combat these lost minutes. This device lets you choose what you want to keep on or turn off at any given time. That means you can easily prioritise what you do and don’t want to keep running.
Setting a schedule for your day may not feel like it will have much of an impact on your energy consumption, but you might be surprised. It’s easy to work longer hours than normal when working from home. Setting a time when you turn all your devices off won’t just be good for your work-life balance, but will help you cut down on energy too. If you’re struggling to work out how you can manage your own time, consider:
Streaming is a great way to wind down, but it can be easy to lose track of time. This won’t only affect your energy bills, but can also make your internet slower – not exactly what you need when you’re trying to chat to work colleagues. This is especially difficult if you’re part of a larger household. Setting a few rules is a great way to keep on top of your screen-time, while lowering costs.
Looking for more tips to slash your energy use on streaming? Here some other ways you could cut back costs:
As the weather gets cooler, you might be tempted to keep your heating running through the day. However, this could make a huge difference to your energy usage. If you’re feeling the chill, why not try heating only the rooms being worked in? Simply turn the off the valves on all the radiators in unused rooms. That way, you can beat the chill with minimum impact to your bills.
If you’re spending more time working from home, it’s likely you’ll have the lights switched on more than usual. But you don’t always need electricity to get the best lighting. Make the most of natural light in your home by setting up your office in the room that gets the most daylight. Open the blinds and curtains and let the sunshine in. You’d be surprised how quickly your eyes can adjust to natural light, even if it seems a bit dim at first.
Also be sure to turn off the lights in any rooms which you aren’t using. Daylight is free, after all.
If you do have to turn the lights on, particularly after the clocks go back, make sure you’re using energy-saving bulb. Both Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are more efficient than halogen lights with LEDs being the most efficient of all.
Here’s how much each type of bulb would cost to purchase and operate over a 25,000-hour lifespan (about 23 years at three hours per day):
You may not want to replace all your bulbs at the same time, particularly as they now last so much longer. So why not swap the bulbs in the rooms that you spend the most time in first – whether that’s because you’re working from home or because you’re not out and about so much in the evenings – and replace the others as they wear out. And remember, just flicking off the light switch every time you leave a room is an easy money saver.
Using timer and dimmer devices will have a positive effect not only during lockdown, but once the pandemic is over. You can set these devices to sync up with your lights and other electronics, allowing them to turn off automatically.
Working from home has become the norm for a lot of people during lockdown. If this is you, you’re probably using either a laptop or desktop during that time – though you should know, one is a lot more efficient than the other.
Your laptop will use just 75 kWh per year, while a desktop can eat up as much as 194 kWh. What’s more, using a laptop will also give you the freedom to work wherever you want in the house. But while you’re spending even more time at home it’s important not to forget the simple basics.
It might seem logical to boil water in the same pan you’re going to use for cooking. And while it might feel like you’re being cost-effective, the opposite is actually true. The average kettle is about 80% efficient, while boiling water on the stovetop is only 70%. Plus, the kettle is also a much quicker way to get your water bubbling.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, if everyone in a family of four swapped one bath a week for a five-minute shower, it could save up to $27 a year on their gas bill. Consider changing your shower head to an eco-version, too. If you do, a family of four can save over $100 a year on gas (and $150 on water if they have a meter).
If you’ve got gas central heating with radiators, you’ll need to bleed them every so often to keep them running effectively. If you’ve got air in the system it can stop hot water circulating efficiently. It’s a good idea to do it at least once a year and ideally before you switch on your heating for the winter. Get tips on how to bleed a central heating system.
It sounds like a silly one, but how many times have you boiled a kettle, then walked away and forgotten you’ve done it? By the time you remember you’re after a hot drink, the water will have cooled and you may need to boil the kettle all over again. A total waste of energy.
Today’s washing detergents are very effective at 30 degrees, so try to avoid washing laundry on a higher setting. Wait until you have a full load too – that saves on water as well as energy. Just make sure you aren’t going to have any colors which run or fabrics which get damaged. Use an eco-wash setting if you can, as this will save on your bills in the long term. If someone in your home has contracted coronavirus you may want to wash their towels, bedlinen and so on separately from the rest of your washing, at 60 degrees. You should also avoid shaking these clothes before you put them in the machine.
This isn’t something you see that often anymore. It goes without saying that using the natural power of the elements will have a big impact on cutting costs. Tumble dryers use up a lot of energy, so try to avoid them as much as you can.
The Energy Saving Trust suggests that turning down your thermostat by just one degree could save over $100 per year. Why not give it a go and see how much you save? Also, check whether heat could be leaving your home through gaps. Thick curtains, draught excluders, and even a piece of putty in a small gap around a window will help keep the heat in. And it goes without saying – don’t leave windows and doors open if it’s not warmer outside than in.
If your fridge gets dusty it can struggle to function at full capacity. Make sure to regularly clean off the coils to optimize its performance.
Putting warm food in the freezer is another big no. It takes a lot more energy for your freezer to retain its temperature when you stack it with food that’s still warm. Let your leftovers cool before you stash them away.
Don’t wash up under a running tap. Fill the bowl up as much as is required for the level of washing up you have. If it’s just a few plates and cups, a third to a half of the bowl is all that’s required. You could also avoid rinsing your plates, as this wastes excess water.
Using a dishwasher? Make sure you fill it completely before you turn it on, to make the most out the energy it uses each cycle.
Energy companies tend to use local data to estimate how much gas and electricity you’re using. While these are often close to reality, it’s impossible for them to be completely right every time.
By checking your own meters on a monthly basis, you’ll be able make sure you only pay for the energy that you’re actually using.
If you don’t already have a smart meter, it might be worth investing in one. These cut out the middle man, ensuring you get an accurate reading all throughout the year without having to check yourself.
Smart thermostats such as Nest and Hive, give you maximum flexibility when it comes to managing your heating. You can even control your heating when you’re out, using your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Smart appliances, lights and plugs can also be programmed to switch off at particular times or when you leave the house, saving you money
If you’re not planning to move in the near future, it may be worth looking at more long-term energy-saving solutions. Solar panels could be really cost effective for you in the long run.
You might save around $130 on your electricity bill each year, and more by earning money for energy you generate and sell back to the grid. Re-insulating your home is another good investment, as is replacing your boiler if it’s getting old. See more about the grants you could get to make your home more energy efficient with the new green deal.
When you replace your household appliances make sure you choose the most energy efficient. See which appliances are the most expensive to run.
Hopefully, some of our energy-saving tips will make a difference in your home. But don’t sit back and accept what you’re paying for your energy, especially if your supplier has recently increased their prices. And if clean energy matters to you, you can even see which suppliers have green energy credentials.