How To Reduce Your Electricity and Gas Usage
There are plenty of good reasons why you should make an effort to cut down on your energy usage at home. Not only does using less gas and electricity help to reduce the level of harmful CO2 produced, but it also helps you cut down the costs of your utility bills.
If you’re looking to reduce the amount you spend on gas and electricity at home then firstly you should ensure that you are on the cheapest and most suitable tariff available to you. You can do this using our free comparison service – just enter your postcode in the yellow box to the right to get started.
Once this is done there are a number of tips and practices you can put into place around your home. Check out our exhaustive checklist of energy saving ideas below.
General Domestic Tips
Light bulbs - Replacing just one old light bulb with an energy saving recommended one can reduce lighting costs by up to £78 over the lifetime of the bulb. Plus they last up to 12 times longer than ordinary light bulbs.
Radiators - Fit reflector panels behind your radiators. These can reflect back into the room 95% of the heat energy radiated from the rear of your radiator. Other radiator extras are also available on the market such as Smart Radiator Valves which turn the radiator on and off at set times of the day, and Radiator Boosters that 'suck' heat in from your radiator and circulate it 50% more efficiently around your room.
Curtains - Close your curtains at dusk to retain the heat in each room. In the winter line your curtains or use thermal or heavier curtains to save money.
Thermostat - As a rule of thumb, you can save around 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you turn down your thermostat. Turning your thermostat down doesn't necessarily mean you have to be colder: There are a number of products on the market, such as radiator boosters mentioned above that help capture radiator heat and distribute it around the room more efficiently.
Taps - A dripping hot water tap can waste enough hot water to fill half a bath in just one week, so fix leaking taps and make sure they’re all fully turned off.
Draught-proofing - Draught-proofing windows, doors, loft hatches, wall and ceiling fittings and ceiling-to-wall joints saves the average home £55 per year on heating bills. DIY draught-proofing typically costs around £120 for materials and professional draught-proofing can cost double this.
In the kitchen…
Washing machine & dryer - Wash full loads rather than just a few items. When possible use a setting of 40°C or even 30°C. By doing this you can use 1/3 less electricity.
Also, you'd be surprised at how much you save by ditching your dryer. In the summer, use an outdoor line. In the winter, you can use a drying rack and your radiators. Remember to put the rack near your windows on sunny days to expedite the drying process and take your laundry off the radiators as soon as it’s dry, as this will enable the heat to go into the room. If you do have to use the dryer, you use tumble dryer balls to reduce drying time.
Dishwasher - Fill the dishwasher before using. Use the economy setting if you have that option. In some dishwashers this can be more efficient than washing by hand.
Kettle - Don't boil a full kettle every time, only boil the amount you need.
Oven - Try not to open the oven door while cooking if possible. Heat lost by opening the door causes the oven to use more energy. You can also try to be less reliant on your oven a cook a greater proportion of your meals using the microwave.
Hob - Avoid using oversized pots and use a lid where you can. Stacked steamers are a great of harnessing the power of one hob to cook more than one item.
Fridges & Freezers - Defrost these appliances regularly, this helps them to run more efficiently. Bear in mind that some fridges and freezers self defrost. Check your manual if your not sure. Pack your fridge and freezer. Food acts as insulation, so keeping your fridge and freezer stocked lessens the amount of time it has to run to stay cool.
In the bathroom…
Wash basin - Don't leave taps running unnecessarily, use the plug and keep the water in the basin.
Shower/Bath - Use the shower rather than the bath whenever possible - it uses considerably less energy. Also, as showers and baths account for most of a household's hot-water use, cutting showers from 20 minutes to 10 minutes could slash water-heating costs by 25%.
Hot water tank - If you have a hot water tank check that it is well insulated.
In Living areas and bedrooms…
General appliances - Before you go to bed turn off the power to appliances such as TV's, Stereo's, DVD players and any other items that do not need to stay on. These appliances can consume considerable amounts of energy while on standby. You could also try using power strips. With all your appliances all plugged into the same area, you'll have an easier time remembering to turn everything off.
Cavity wall insulation - Cavity wall insulation can save energy users up to £270 a year, with the average saving being £120 every year. Costs can be as low as £149 pounds, or free for those who qualify!
Loft insulation - The approximate saving per year for those who have thick loft insulation installed is £175. Be sure you don’t compress the thickness of the insulation as this can see savings decrease dramatically. Installation can cost anywhere between £100 and £350.
Under-floor insulation - Older homes are more likely to have suspended timber floors. Timber floors can be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. This can save you around £60 per year and cost as little as £100 if you do it yourself. Filling in the gaps between your floor and skirting board alone could save you £25 per year.
Solid-wall insulation - Older houses tend to have solid walls rather than cavity walls. Having either internal or external insulation installed on your solid walls could save you around £445 to £475 per year. However, the cost of having such insulation installed can be high at £5,500 to £13,000. Nevertheless, external insulation can renew the appearance of your outer walls, improve weatherproofing and sound resistance, fills cracks and gaps in the brickwork, which will reduce draughts, increase the life of your walls by protecting the brickwork and reduce condensation on internal walls to help prevent damp (though it will not solve rising or penetration damp).
Windows and doors - Replacing all single-glazed windows with B-rated double glazing could save you around £165 per year on your energy bills.
Energy saving checklist
Reducing the amount of energy you use in your home can mean considerable savings on the cost of your energy bills each month. See how many things you can tick off the checklist below:
- Reduce your thermostat by just 1 degree centigrade. This alone could cut your central heating costs by around 10%
- Make sure your hot water cylinder and pipes are all well insulated, and check that the loft insulation is of adequate thickness and is fitted neatly.
- Retain heat by closing your windows open when the heating is on, and close curtains at dusk to keep the heat in.
- Keep internal doors closed to reduce draughts, and fix brush seals to exterior doors and letterboxes to retain heat.
- Fix aluminium reflectors behind radiators to direct and circulate warm air into the room.
- Take a shower, as this uses a lot less water than a bath. If you have a power-shower, be wary of how long your showers are as they can use just as much water as a bath.
- When buying new electrical appliances, take notice of their energy consumption ratings to assess their efficiency in the long term.
- Defrost your fridge/freezer regularly to keep it running efficiently. Fast build-up of ice may indicate a damaged door seal.
- Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or dishwasher, to save on water and electricity.
- Try to use an outside line for drying clothes whenever possible. When using a tumble dryer, clean the filter regularly and check any outside vent is clear.
- Fill the kettle only to the level needed, and ensure that you regularly de-scale in hard water areas.
- Don't leave your TV and other electrical appliances on standby - turn them off at the main switch, as leaving equipment on standby can still result in energy being used.
- Use low wattage, energy saving light bulbs. They are more expensive to buy but last up to 10 times longer while using much less electricity.
- If you have a dual rate electricity meter (Economy 7 or Economy 10), make use of this by setting your appliances to come on at night. Night time electricity will cost around 1/3 of the day rate and reduce peak demand for the supplier.