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Energy saving tips

How to save energy at home

Cutting energy costs isn't just about cheaper tariffs, which are tough to find right now anyway, as there are no deals meaningfully cheaper than the price cap. The main way to save right now amid the current energy crisis is to use less, so see if you can adopt any of these easy methods below.

 

This guide deals in the facts and figures of saving energy, but there are some grey areas and a lot of disputed claims – our Energy mythbusters guide looks at these. If you've any feedback or tips you think we should add to this guide, please let us know in the Energy saving tips forum thread.

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How to save energy

These figures are largely based on calculations from the Energy Saving Trust, but don't worry, we've also crunched the numbers ourselves where possible to check they add up (savings are based on a typical three-bedroom household with a family of four, correct as of November 2021).

  1. Turn your thermostat down

    This is one of the easiest things to do on this list. For each degree you cut the thermostat, expect to cut bills by 4%-ish, or about £65 a year on average for a typical home.

    Of course, it might cause some arguments with family, flatmates or fussy pets, but the World Health Organisation says that 18 degrees is enough for healthy adults, with slightly higher temperatures needed for the very old or young. So consider popping on a jumper at home and seeing what temperature your household is comfortable at.

    And while we're talking heating, a common debate is whether it is cheaper to leave the heating on low all day, rather than just turning it on when you need it. The Energy Saving Trust is adamant you should only have your heating on when required – see our Energy mythbusters guide for more.

  2. Fit a free water-saving shower head

    Reducing your water usage can cut bills for those on water meters, help the environment, and reduce energy costs too, as when you use less water, you usually heat less water.

    There's no shortage of free water-saving gadgets available from water firms. What you can get depends on where you live and varies throughout the year – see free water-saving gadgets for what's available and how to get 'em.

    If you balk at the idea of having shorter showers or showering less often – the easiest way to save – a water-saving shower head may be your best bet. We can't promise you won't still be told to hurry up by impatient family members, but you will have more money in your pocket. For a typical family, it's a 2%-ish saving, or about £35 a year on average for a typical home.

    And if you're not on a water meter, you can get one fitted for free in England and Wales. Some – especially in homes with fewer residents than bedrooms – can save large. You can use a water meter calculator to see if you can save.

  3. Don't assume all energy-saving light bulbs are equal

    LED uses about half the energy of the bigger fluorescent spiral 'energy-saving bulbs'. Obviously turning 'em off when you're not in the room helps too. There will be an initial outlay, but you should recoup it fairly quickly. See our forum for discussion on prices of LED bulbs.

    Some worry that constantly turning lights on and off wastes energy but, according to the Energy Saving Trust, you're better off turning them off when you leave the room, no matter how long for. It reckons you could save £14 a year doing this.

  4. Turn draught detective

    Walk round your home spotting window and door draughts. You can even make your own sausage dog draught excluder. Decent draught-proofing can cut 2% off energy bills, so about £30 a year on average for a typical home. This applies to chimneys too, where you can get a 1.5%-ish further reduction. Again, this is subject to an initial outlay, but you will make it back over time.

    Some also say that putting clingfilm on your windows can help trap the heat in to stop it escaping. And oddly enough, the Energy Saving Trust told us putting clingfilm on windows actually works. It says adding a second layer, as long as it's transparent and airtight, will make a difference. But some may just want to keep using clingfilm for their sandwiches.

  5. Cut your shower time

    Cutting just a minute off your shower time could save £75 a year in energy bills, and a further £105 a year in water bills if you have a meter – £180 a year for an average four-person household.

    Try buying a shower timer to keep your eye on the ball (or just set an alarm on your phone). You could also sing along to a shorter song while you're in there – those within earshot may thank you.

    Some MoneySavers even turn the water off to lather and back on to rinse, and reckon you need barely any water at all to shower. This may sound a bit extreme, but the numbers could add up. There's also the often-touted health benefits of cold showers, but that's too much, even for us.

    While shower timers aren't usually free, there are a whole host of other water-saving freebies you can get.

  6. Wash more clothes less – and try not to use the tumble dryer

    Try to do one fewer load of washing a week and make sure you fill up the machine each time. No more washing just one shirt or dress that you need for a big night out.

    The savings aren't huge, around £10 a year for modern machines, but can be much more with old ones. You could also try doing your washing on a colder setting.

    You could also save by avoiding using the tumble dryer where possible, as it uses a lot of energy. The Energy Saving Trust reckons you could save £40 a year if you never use it. Try drying your clothes on an airer, but make sure you leave a window open, as it can cause damp in poorly ventilated homes.

  7. Think 'how many cuppas am I making?'

    The more water you boil, the more energy you use. Be conscious about this when filling the kettle, so you don't overfill. Simple, but effective, with a saving of £8 a year possible.

    Some Forumites even recommend buying a smaller kettle, so you aren't tempted to overfill. But if you can be strict with yourself with your larger kettle and only fill it with what you are going to use, you shouldn't need to.

  8. Don't leave your devices on standby (though it's not the problem it used to be)

    Switching off your devices is better than leaving them on standby, of course, as otherwise you're using energy for something you're not making use of. But it's nowhere near the problem it once was.

    The Energy Saving Trust says you can save £40 a year by switching devices off standby, but we reckon this figure is a bit overblown. It's EU law that TVs and other devices made since 2013 can't use more than 0.5 watts in standby mode. To show the scale of it, a TV watched four hours a day and left on standby the rest of the time would cost 77p a year.

  9. Use radiator thermostats

    Don't heat the whole house when you're spending all day in one room. Thermostatic radiator valves are an extra control which you can use to set the temperature of each individual room (other than where your main thermostat is). When the temperature in that room rises above what's set on the radiator valve, it will stop water flowing through that particular radiator – the boiler will still be on to heat other rooms, but it will use less energy.

    Installing them and using them with your thermostat allows you to control the temperature room by room, and could save you almost 6%, so about £85 a year on average for a typical home, although an initial outlay is needed.

    Some also say that painting your radiators black can help them heat rooms more efficiently, but as far as the Energy Saving Trust is concerned, this is a waste of time, paint and money.

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