It’s hard to believe, but the school summer holidays are almost upon us once more – great news for commuters, as the morning traffic is virtually non-existent for well over a month, but not-so-great news for parents who have to keep the kids entertained for weeks on end.
And then there’s the soaring energy bills, as games consoles and televisions are left on all day, and extra meals need preparing – but don’t despair, we’ve got six super energy-saving tips to see you through the six week summer holidays.
If you’ve got games-mad kids, you’ll know all too well that they’d happily spend every waking minute of the summer holidays on their console – but even if they’re spending just an hour-or-so extra every day on their favourite video games, that could be enough to put a few extra pounds on your energy bill at the end of the month.
So get out and about - arrange days at the beach, walks in the park, trips to the swimming baths, or anything that will least encourage them to put down the headset and see the world outside.
Once you’ve managed to drag the kids away from the games console, you then need to make sure all appliances gets switched off at the wall before you leave the house. Any appliances left needlessly on standby are an unnecessary drain on electricity, so make sure everything is switched off, including anything on charge, especially if you’re going to be leaving the house for the rest of the day.
The kids being off school means more meals to prepare – so why not give the oven a well-deserved break and fire-up the barbecue for your evening meals. This will not only save energy, but also make meal times more communal, and you may find the kids are more prepared to chip in with the food preparation.
It’s also worth considering packing a picnic at lunchtimes, to both save on energy and encourage everyone to get out of the house.
Dirty clothes and extra washing is the one downside to getting out and about with the kids, and while hand washing everything probably isn’t practical, there’s certainly no need to use the dryer when the washing line will do.
If you do use the washing machine, make sure you always use a full load, and you can even afford to save energy on the post-wash spin cycle if you’re letting the clothes drip-dry.
If the kids are having a kick about outside, it won’t be long before they pile in looking for food and drinks, and when they do, you can bet they’ll crowd around the fridge and leave the door open while they look for goodies – and each time the door is opened up to a third of its cold air can escape, meaning it then needs to use more even energy to cool back down.
So make sure your little monsters (and your big ones) never leave the fridge door open any longer than absolutely necessary.
A five-minute shower uses about a third of the water a bath does, so when the kids need cleaning, encourage them to step into the shower instead of soaking in the tub – not only will it save energy, it’ll be infinitely more refreshing on a hot summer’s day.
A word of warning though, if you have a power shower, this may use even more water and energy than running a bath, so it could also be worth investing in a shower monitor to keep tabs on the amount of water you’re using.
If you really want to try and manage your energy usage, it's well worth getting a smart meter installed - not only will this show you exactly when and how you're using gas and electricity, it'll also let you know how much it's costing you. Go to Smart Energy GB for more details.
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