The news of greatly increased gas and electricity rates in the UK just at the start of winter will alarm many. Are there any practical steps we can take to reduce our bills? How many of these can be done with no upfront cost and little effort?
Here we look at ideas that reduce energy usage. Reduced energy usage will lead to lower energy bills. Many money saving websites and price comparison websites already help with shopping around for the cheapest energy supplier so that will not be discussed here.
Things I can do for free to reduce my gas bill today*
|If your home is quite hot then consider reducing the temperature you select on your thermostat|
|Wearing warmer clothing at home may allow you to reduce the temperature too. Even a 1°C reduction brings considerable savings.|
|If you have room thermostats or TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves) on each radiator, then consider lowering the temperature in the areas you don’t mind being colder – spare rooms, corridors, stairwells, toilets.|
|Keep internal doors closed, especially between areas of different temperatures.|
|If your boiler is on continuous, consider changing settings for it to come on twice a day (people tend to like to have the morning timer set for just before you wake up and the evening timer for just as it is getting dark). This saves gas because it allows the temperature to fall a little when you are not likely to notice too much.|
|If some doors or windows have draughts, consider putting some spare fabric along the gap to cut down the draught.|
|Draw your curtains as soon as it gets dark. Curtains, especially lined curtains, can be very effective at reducing heat loss through windows.|
|Keep your radiators clear of obstructions and clean. If you have filters on your heaters then keep them clean and dust free.|
|A shorter shower will not only save water, but save hot water (and reduce gas usage). For a similar reason, a shallow bath is better than a deep one. A short shower uses least energy (but be careful if you have a high flow power shower).|
|If your hot water is scalding hot then reduce the temperature. 60°C is generally hot enough. Note that it’s important to make sure the temperature regularly gets above 50°C throughout the hot water system.|
|If you have a timer on your hot water then consider once or twice on per day rather than continuous.|
|Cook on the right size hob or burner (with a moderate or low flame that stays under the base) to reduce heat wastage up the side of the pan.|
|If cooking on the hob, consider putting lids on pans wherever possible. This retains heat and moisture and reduces cooking time (see separate blog post).|
|If you have the tendency to pop out of the kitchen while you are cooking, consider staying with your food – you are less likely to overcook or burn food and waste gas in the process.|
If you are concerned about your gas usage and haven’t already got a smart meter, consider asking your energy company if they are installing them in your area. It would be installed for free and, although a meter doesn’t save money directly, if you keep an eye on the display it will help you spot the things you do that use more energy.
* here we assume gas is used for gas central heating, hot water and cooking
Things I can do for free to reduce my electricity bill today
|Turn off lights after you leave a room|
|Turn off electrical equipment. Standby power can consume quite a bit of electricity. Unplug chargers when they have finished charging.|
|Boil only as much water as you need in the electric kettle (however keep above the minimum line as recommended). Filling with cup loads can help you boil exactly the right amount.|
|Keep filters clean, including on high power equipment used occasionally such vacuum cleaners, cooker hoods and tumble drier filters.|
|Run your appliances on Eco or energy saving mode wherever possible.|
|Air drying clothes is the traditional way of drying before the tumble dryer arrived. Tumble dryers use large quantities of electricity.|
|If you can take cutlery and crockery out of the dishwasher before the drying cycle and allow them to dry naturally then that saves quite a bit of electricity.|
|If you like staring into the refrigerator or freezer, then remember that the unit has to do a lot of work to regain the correct temperature after you’ve closed the door.|
|Heating water electrically uses lots of energy and costs a lot. Wash your clothes at the lowest temperature you can get away with. Detergents can be fairly effective with cold washes.|
|Very rarely people find that they’ve had their immersion heater on by accident. Perhaps a child has switched it on, or you’ve forgotten to switch it off. As it is such a costly mistake it is worth just checking.|
|Finally have a walk round your rooms looking to see what is plugged in. You may be surprised what you find!|
What else can I do to reduce my gas bill which doesn’t cost too much and is relatively easy?
|Check your loft insulation. Missing or thin insulation is relatively cheap to correct and your energy company may be able to help you do this for free if you contact them.|
|If you don’t have room thermostats or TRVs (Thermostatic Radiator Valves) on each radiator then getting them added gives you more control|
|Putting reflective thin insulation behind the radiators reduces the heat loss into the wall and so improves the heating of the room.|
|If you have a hot water tank then make sure it is well insulated.|
|Curtains aren’t as popular as they used to be but they can be pretty effective at trapping air at the windows and creating an insulating blanket over them. Lined curtains are better still. There are some curtain bargains to be found and some charity shops stock unwanted ones.|
What else can I do to reduce my electricity bill which doesn’t cost too much and is relatively easy?
|Make sure you are not still using old incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs are bright, instantly on and ultra cheap to run.|
|Change halogen spot lights to LED bulbs. Most halogen spot lights are 50W and the equivalent brightness LED bulb is 7W – that’s a massive reduction.|
|Using your vacuum cleaner on a lower power setting means you’ll have to empty it more regularly and keep it free from blockages which might take a little more time.|
|Plan ahead when using the oven. Maybe you can put two things in at the same time or one right after the other?|
|When you have to replace equipment, check the energy rating of the next appliance (whether you are buying new or used). Spending a bit more might be worth it with lower electricity bills.|
The Energy Saving Trust have tips to save energy. https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home/
Running costs can be reduced significantly with energy efficient products. A 100W bulb will cost £1 if on for 58 hours (that is 1 week if it is on for around 8 hours a day, using the UK average electricity rate in 2020 of 17.2p/kWh). A CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) of the same brightness would cost only 19p for the same week. A LED bulb of the same brightness would cost just 12p to run.