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Easy ways to cut your energy bill

Cutting your energy consumption is good for the planet and your wallet. Here are some home energy saving tips that you can action with very little effort…

In living rooms and bedrooms

Keep the heat in

Hanging heavy curtains is a great way to stop heat escaping from your windows, particularly if you live in an older property. Also, if you have exposed floor boards or tiled floors, lay rugs to keep the floor warm and your toes cosy. By retaining the heat inside your home you won’t need to crank the heating up quite so much. Draught-proofing doors and windows can save you up to £25 on your heating each year.

Get a chimney balloon or sheep

This is a tip for folks with fireplaces. Chimneys suck air out of your home leading to cold draughts, so it’s worth investing in a chimney balloon when your fire is not in use. As the name suggests, it’s an inflatable device that pushes against the walls of the chimney to stop hot air escaping and cold air coming in. There’s a small vent inside it to allow your chimney to breathe. Once in place, your home will be less draughty so you’ll spend less on heating. When you want to use your fire again don’t forget to deflate the balloon and remove it.

A similar product, is the Chimney Sheep, a thick layer of felted wool on a handle that plugs the gap just above the fireplace preventing warm air from escaping up the chimney. Again, just remember to remove it when you want to start using the fire again.

Say goodbye to standby

This is an old tip but still a very good tip. If your TV, laptop, games consoles and any other home electrical devices are not in use switch them off at the wall. According to the Energy Saving Trust you can save up to £30 a year on electricity by not keeping appliances on standby. If you are forever forgetting to switch off your devices it might be worth buying a universal remote control, like the Logitech Harmony Elite, that allows you to switch off multiple devices and gadgets in one go. 

In the bathroom

Swap your shower head

It’s a well-known fact that taking a shower is more energy efficient than having a bath, because you use less hot water, but did you know that you can reduce your water usage even further with an energy-efficient shower head? Aerated shower heads mix water with air, so you get the same pressure but use less water, while pulsating shower heads rapidly turn the water on and off so you use less water overall. For more guidance, read Which? magazine’s Eco Shower Head Buying Guide and to check if your shower system is suitable for the installation of a eco shower head, contact your shower manufacturer.

According to Energy Saving Trust, if you’re a family of four and swap an inefficient showerhead for a water-efficient one, you could reduce your gas bill by £75 and your water bills by £120 (if you have a water meter), giving you an annual saving of around £195. 

Time your showers

The average person spends eight minutes in the shower apparently, but could you speed up your daily wash and save money on hot water? Consider investing in a shower timer. It suctions onto your shower tiles or screen and you can set it for a 4-5 minute shower – just enough time to have a quick shampoo, lather and rinse. Ideal for families and shower hogs.

Turn off taps

Do you leave the water running when you’re washing your face, brushing your teeth or shaving? Constantly running taps waste more than six litres of water a minute, which certainly adds up if you’re running hot water, so turn off the tap when you’re performing everyday sink tasks. Also, if you have a leaking or dripping tap, get it fixed pronto. You can waste more than 5,300 litres of water a year, so make sure you turn them off and change washers promptly when drips start.

In the kitchen

Give your oven an MOT

Check your oven is as energy efficient as it can be. Is the thermostat and fan still working and air circulating evenly inside? If not, the rate at which your food cooks will be slower, meaning more time and energy is used. A quick and inexpensive way to check this is to buy an oven thermometer. This hangs in your oven and allows you to compare the temperature you’ve set the oven at against the actual temperature inside.

Another tip is to check the seal of your oven door to ensure there are no leaks or gaps – the last thing you want is escaping heat. If the seal is broken, check your oven warranty and contact the manufacturer for advice.

It’s also worth noting that ovens can be costly to run – 18p per hour of use – so if you can substitute the oven for a microwave in some recipes, cooking times will be reduced and you’ll save money.

Cook with a slow cooker

Not only are slow cookers an excellent way to cook for the family – for most recipes you just throw in all the ingredients, leave them to cook for a few hours and you end up with a finished meal – they’re also super energy efficient. According to uSwitch, they use just a little more energy than a standard light bulb.

Make use of the kettle

Lots of recipes ask you to bring a pan of water to the boil before adding the ingredients –think pasta, rice and vegetables. If you use electricity rather than gas for cooking, speed up the process and save money by using your kettle to boil the water. (Note: gas is cheaper than electric so if you have gas use the hob instead!) And, to save even more energy, and money, just boil what you need in the kettle rather than fill it right to the top! Also, when it comes to clearing up the dishes afterwards, use the kettle to fill the sink rather than heat hot water or put the dishwasher on – it’s much more efficient.

Around the house

Read your meter

If you don’t have a smart meter installed, your energy company will generally charge you based on the estimated amount of energy they think you’ve used per quarter. This is why it’s really important to contact them regularly with accurate meter readings. You never know, you might end up in pocket. Recent uSwitch research found that two thirds of Brits were owed £161 on average, once they provided a reading.

Buy energy-efficient appliances

The next time your washing machine, dishwasher or fridge stops working and can’t be fixed, invest in an energy-efficient replacement. The product’s energy efficiency rating will be displayed in the product description if browsing online or on a label on the front of the appliance if looking in-store. The grade of a device is based on the amount of energy it uses per hour. The lower its kilowatt hours consumption, the more efficient the appliance is.

It’s worth noting that appliances are ranked by size category, so a large freezer and a small freezer might have the same energy efficiency rating but the smaller freezer will be cheaper to run because the area it has to freeze will be smaller. For more information on appliance ratings, visit the Energy Saving Trust.

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