14 hacks that’ll save you money and energy in your home
We’re not trying to teach your granny how to suck eggs here… but does she know that washing with them could save her money?!
The average household spends around £1,254 in a normal year on heating and power, according to industry regulator Ofgem…
That already makes energy one of the biggest annual costs for UK families. But take into account the fact that many of us are spending much more time at home – and plugging in a lot more to facilitate our new work stations – and our average figure is likely to have been much higher over these last 12 months.
Not for much longer, though. Here at HLN, we’ve scoured our sources and picked the brains of our local experts to bring you this handy guide on how to become more energy efficient around the house. So what are you waiting for? Get saving!
UNPLUG AT NIGHT
Simply unplug electrical appliances at night instead of leaving them on standby and you could save yourself up to £50 a year
LEAKY TAPS? GET A QUICK FIX
Fix water drips as soon as you find them. Leaving a dripping tap for a year could cost you an extra £100 on your annual water bill if you’re on a water meter.
Make sure your house is insulated properly. Not only does it cut energy bills during the winter months, but it also helps keep the heat out during summer. Proper loft insulation (270mm min) can save you between £135–£250 a year; floor insulation a further £30–£75 a year; and cavity wall insulation from £85–£280 a year.
Homeowners on a low income could qualify for boiler grants and insulation grants to help improve the energy efficacy of their home. Go to Boilergrants.org.uk and Simpleenergyadvice.org.uk to see if you might qualify.
HIT THE GAS
Upgrading your gas appliances to more efficient models can end up saving you money in the long run.
INSTALL A SMART THERMOSTAT
Smart thermostats can make your heating more efficient by only warming the rooms that you’re using. They learn how long it takes to heat your home, so they can have it at the right temperature at exactly the right time, and can also be controlled by your phone, which means you won’t have to come back after a night out in the beer garden to a freezing home. Install room thermostats, programmers and thermostatic radiator valves and you could save around £75 a year.
Almost half the money we spend on energy bills is absorbed by heating and hot water costs. Turning down your heating by just one degree can save you up to £80 a year.
‘When it comes to central heating, most people think that the higher the temperature, the quicker your house will heat up,’ says Myles Robinson, co-founder of Boiler Central. ‘This isn’t true – and will just use more fuel, waste money and increase your heating bill. The ideal setting for cooler months should be between 18-21 degrees celsius.
‘Also, try to avoid drying your clothes on a radiator, if possible,’ Myles continues. ‘This blocks the heat from the radiators. A proper drying rack is the best option.’
BUY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES
Ok, so throwing out a perfectly good appliance isn’t going to save you any money. But when it is time to swap, going for one with a high energy-efficiency rating can be worth the investment.
An A+++ washing machine will typically use £65 less energy than an A+ one over an 11-year lifespan. A modern, efficient dishwasher will typically cost around £7 less a year to run compared to an older model. And an A+++ fridge-freezer will save around £320 in energy bills over its lifetime, compared to an A+ model.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
There’s new tech and innovative products designed help you save energy around the house coming out all the time, so do your homework. One recommendation? ecoegg. This egg-shaped, eco-friendly laundry washing system replaces washing detergent and fabric conditioner – eliminating the need for all those single-use plastic bottles – and gives a low-cost wash at just 14p per wash (and only 10p when you refill).
There are also ecoegg Dryer Eggs available, which reduce the time it takes to dry laundry in the tumble dryer, as the two eggs help to separate washed items – making them dry more efficiently.
WASH CLOTHES AT A LOWER TEMPERATURE
Washing at 30 degrees, rather than 40 degrees, can help reduce your energy usage. And if you can cut out one wash cycle per week, you’ll clip a tidy £5 off your annual energy bill.
You can save around £25 a year by washing up in a bowl rather than using a running tap. Buying a more efficient shower head can also save you as much as £18 per person a year on energy bills, plus an additional amount if you have a water meter. And if you fit a shower timer in your bathroom, you could save up to £7 per person each year by cutting just one minute off every shower.
CATCH THOSE DRAUGHTS
A cold draught can cause your home to lose heat, which makes it more tempting to turn the heating up. Draught excluders or draught-proofing kits are a great way of preventing this.
Seal cracks in floors and skirting boards, line your letterbox and block an unused chimney to reduce your heating bills by up to £35 a year. And if you don’t have double glazing, you can buy plastic lining for your windows to save energy and keep more heat in.
INSTALL A SMART METER
Monitoring your energy usage by keeping a watchful eye on your consumption levels can help you decide if and when you have to change the way you use energy. Installing a Smart Meter lets you track your consumption with accurate and real-time information. Find out more with this handy guide to Smart Meters at Money Super Market.
COMPARE ENERGY QUOTES
Comparing energy quotes can often be the best way to save on both electricity and gas. You can also check whether you’ll be paying a fixed or variable rate; a fixed rate means your payments will stay the same throughout, whereas a variable rate means they’ll change depending on the rate set by the supplier. While a fixed rate can give you stability and protection against sudden price hikes, it also means you’ll miss out on the benefits if the supplier decides to lower their prices.
If you do find a better deal and decide to switch supplier, the move will be handled by the supplier you’re moving to. There won’t be any loss of supply or any new installations or work at your property, and the process could be done within three weeks.
CHECK YOUR CREDIT
Do you pay your energy bill by direct debit every month? If you pay the same amount each time, it’s possible that you’re nicely in credit now. Check to see if you are and, if so, ask for some of your overpayment to be sent back to your bank account. According to uSwitch.com, almost 13 million households across the UK are owed money by their energy supplier, with an average reclaim amount of £136.