We first looked into how we can lower our domestic energy bills last year when prices started to rise. With much more interest in energy saving we hope the ideas here may be useful to some.
We’ve had some excellent suggestions from readers so we’ve added a few new ideas below. With petrol and diesel prices up, we’ve pulled some thoughts together at the end on fuel efficient driving too. Just like last year we are not looking into price comparisons between suppliers.
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.|
|Check your loft insulation if you have a loft. If there are gaps or if the thickness is less than 270mm then you may qualify for free top-up insulation. Contact your energy company or look at the UK government advice website. If you don’t qualify for free help, it could still be worth improving your loft insulation to make more savings this winter.|
|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.|
|Washing up under a running tap can quickly use up lots of hot water. Why not try using the plug and see if that works for you.|
|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 regularly heat up too much food and end up putting food back in the refrigerator, then heating up only the amount you need will save you time and money.|
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. You can look at the UK government advice website here.|
|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. Have a look at the price comparison photo below.|
|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.|
|If you use electricity during the night (or you could shift your usage) and your supplier offers a “time of use” tariff like Economy 7 or Economy 10, then this might save you money. You may need a Smart Meter to make the switch.|
The goal is to reduce your energy use. Units are measured in kWh – so look for the W rating of your equipment and lower is better – and keep your equipment off for longer to lower the number of hours h.
The Energy Saving Trust have tips to save energy. https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home/
They also have some information on how to reduce heat loss. https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home/reducing-home-heat-loss/
Another website we like is https://www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk/ or https://www.gov.uk/improve-energy-efficiency
Look how energy efficient products work
Running costs can be reduced significantly with energy efficient products. Prior to the latest price cap rise, a 100W bulb will cost £1 if left on for 36 hours (that is four and a half days if it is on for around eight hours a day, using the April-September 2022 price cap). A CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) of the same brightness would cost only 19p for the same duration. A LED bulb of the same brightness would cost just 12p to run.
Unfortunately due to the rise in prices, that same 100W bulb will cost £1 if left on for only 19 hours from this October (that is nearly two and a half days if it is on for around eight hours a day, using the October-December 2022 price cap). A CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) of the same brightness would cost only 19p for the same duration. A LED bulb of the same brightness would cost just 12p to run.
What is the UK price rise going to be in October 2022?
Ofgem, the UK regulator, has published the price cap already.
Unfortunately those on prepayment meters often have higher charges than those who pay by direct debit. Ofgem’s default tariff cap level tables from last year (2021) show this difference for those that are interested.
The energy saving required to keep bills the same as last year (when electricity was around £0.22 per kWh and gas was around £0.045 per kWh) would be 58% reduction in electricity use and 70% reduction in gas use.
Looking at petrol or diesel use in our car?*
Things I can do for free to reduce my car fuel use today
|Leave your car at home for short trips if you are able to walk or cycle instead.|
|Check you don’t have air conditioning switched on when you don’t need it.|
|Harsh acceleration will use more fuel.|
|Driving in too low a gear uses more fuel.|
|Keep below or to the speed limits! Did you know that the fuel use goes up with the speed squared because of air resistance or drag? Incredible savings result from cruising at 60mph (100km/h) on the motorway compared to 80mph (130km/h).|
|Look ahead. Think advanced driving. Gently easing off the accelerator when the light ahead is red means you gradually slow down and maybe by the time it goes green again you will be ready to gently progress without ever having stopped! Starting from still uses more fuel.|
|The drag of the car is increased by open windows. Keep them closed on the motorway. Use the ventilation to keep fresh air coming in instead.|
|Under-inflated tyres are not only dangerous, they give much more rolling resistance and push our fuel use up. Stick to the top end of the the manufacturer specified tyre pressures and check them regularly.|
|Keep your car regularly serviced to catch any issues with engine performance.|
|If you are stuck in traffic then consider the environment and switch your engine off.|
What else can I do to reduce my car fuel bill which doesn’t cost too much and is relatively easy?
|Tyre choice can have a big effect on fuel use. Consider tyre energy ratings when selecting new tyres – this might mean more expensive tyres at point of sale.|
|Lift sharing might be an idea. If there is someone else going to the same place then why not get together?|
|Remember to check the reviews and fuel economy when considering changing the car. Don’t forget to check for suitable electric cars as well.|
* here we assume you have a petrol or diesel car. If you have an electric car you can still reduce your energy consumption with many of these ideas too.
The original 2021 article can be read here.