According to energy market regulator Ofgem, as of April 2018, the average British household spends £94.83 per month on their gas and electricity tariffs, or £1,138 a year. We’re spending around 4% of our household incomes on energy, a figure that rises to 8% for low-income households. Energy prices have been rising over the last three years and will likely continue to rise, as resources become scarcer and new regulation and taxes are placed on greenhouse gas emissions.
But the good news is that our household energy consumption has been falling overall, as Britons use more energy efficient appliances, boilers, and light bulbs, and adopt energy conscious habits. Ofgem found that energy consumption by British domestic consumers has fallen 17% over the last 15 years, after adjusting for changes in temperature. So how do you find energy savings under your own roof, to cut both your energy bills and your carbon footprint? We run down the quick fixes you can make today.
- Turn down your thermostat
Heating accounts for more than half (53%) of our energy bills. Dialling down your thermostat by just 1 degree Celsius can shave 10% from your total energy costs, and you’re unlikely to notice the difference, especially if you don a jumper and warm socks. The NHS says it’s perfectly safe to keep your home below 18C if you’re under 65, healthy, and active.
- Get smart with your heat
Use radiator valves to turn off the heat in rooms you’re not using or the kitchen when it’s being heated by the oven. In fact, leave the oven door open (if safe) after heating those oven chips and you could warm your whole downstairs. For additional savings, invest in a smart thermostat, with a timer or remote control via an app so you can keep your heat low when you’re at work and crank it up to comfortable temperatures right before you arrive home.
- Wash your clothes in cold water
90% of the energy used by washing machines is spent heating the water so you’ll find savings by washing your clothing at 30-40C, rather than anything hotter. In fact, if you wash your clothing at 60C, running costs for your washing machine will increase by over half compared to running it at 40C.
- Ditch the tumble drier
Tumble driers are some of the most energy-hungry appliances in our homes: running one with a standard sized load will cost you 2.5 kWH of electricity, or around 30p. Use the tumble drier three times a week and you’re looking at an energy budget of 390 kWH per year or nearly £50, just for one appliances that mainly just heats your towels. Luckily, a tumble drier is one of the easier appliances to do without. Buy a clothes rack, or in warm weather, a clothesline, and let air and time do their work. On the plus side, by washing clothes in lower temperatures and avoiding the drier, you’ll never have to worry about shrunken knitwear again.
- Unplug devices that aren’t in use
Your home is full of tiny vampires, drinking electricity even when they’re not in use—and you’re footing the tab. Computers left snoozing and washing machines with their lights blinking, waiting in standby, are all consuming energy. Even phone chargers are still sipping electricity, even when they’re merely plugged in beside your bed and not funnelling electricity to your mobile’s battery. According to the Energy Savings Trust you can save around £30 a year on your energy bills by turning off devices and appliances rather than leaving them plugged in and on standby.
- Switch off lights
You’re welcome to hear this advice in your mother’s voice but it really will save you money: the Energy Savings Trust calculates as much £15 a year.
- Longer term investments
You can rack up savings by simply changing your habits and making subtle changes to your routine, but if you want to find even more reductions, you’ll likely have to make investments in your property. Upgrade your boiler to a more energy efficient one, install a smart heating system, invest in loft and cavity wall insulation, and get A+++ rated appliances. Your energy savings might not offset the initial outlay for several years (new boilers start at more than £2000), but think of them as investments in your home. They’ll trim your energy bills in the decades to come and also make your home more attractive to the energy-conscious buyers of the future.