Power bills are notoriously higher during the colder months, as we try to warm and light our homes. We also prepare more hot meals and snuggle up in front of the TV as we seek out some comfort! Whilst a home built with energy-efficiency in mind (double-glazed windows, insulation, solar panels, etc) is the best way to cut your power bills, not many of us have the option of building a new home. So here are some tips on how to work with what you’ve got and keep the power bills from sky-rocketing.
How can YOU improve?
The first thing to do when considering energy-efficiency is to consider how you use power. Are the kids leaving the TV on when no one is watching it? Do you really need all the lights on the house on when everyone is at the dinner table? Is everyone getting around in t-shirts and shorts in the middle of winter with the heatpump cranking because putting a jumper on didn’t seem like an easy option?! Look at your energy use objectively and start to make some changes.
You current electricity provider may not be the best option for your home. Pop over to Powerswitch, a free site that can help you compare prices between different power retailers. Switching to a more cost-effective power company may save you money but be sure to read the small print and understand how future charges may increase, or what time period you may be locked in for. Often, combining your power bill with other utilities including gas, broadband or phone can result in a saving but always be sure you know what you’re signing up for. Receiving your bills online, paying by direct credit, and other options may also result in a saving.
How to save money on heating
- Aim for a comfortable temperature of between 18 and 20°C.
- Energy-efficient heating like heatpumps are better at heating rooms for less money.
- Turn off heaters in rooms you won’t be using for a while. Programmable timers are brilliant for turning heaters on a little while before you get up in the morning or before everyone gets home in the evening.
- Close doors (and windows!) to only heat the room you are using.
- Choose to grab a blanket or put on layers BEFORE you flick the switch to turn on the heating.
- Just before the sun goes down, pull the curtains to keep the free heat from the sun in as long as possible. Open curtains as soon as you get up in the morning. Thermal-backed curtains are best.
- Do-it-yourself insulation coverings for windows can cut the amount of heat lost through windows without the cost of double-glazing.
- Put a stop to draughts with window or door seals, draught excluders or tape.
- Turn off heated towel rails when not in use.
- Efficient ceiling insulation will make a huge difference to the comfort of your home as well as the power needed to heat it. Wall and underfloor insulation can also make a big difference.
- Ditch the electric blankets and opt for polar fleece sheets which will keep everyone toasty warm.
How to save money on cooling
- Open doors and windows to get a through-draught.
- Get outside! Al fresco dining is more relaxed and cooler than sat in a hot home.
- Dress in cool clothing, kick off shoes and socks and have a cool drink!
- If the day is set to be a scorcher, keep the curtains on the sunny side of the house closed.
- If you do choose to put the air-conditioning on, set the temperature to a comfortable 22 to 24°C, rather than a frigid 16!
- When using air-conditioning, close windows and doors – you only want to pay to cool your home, not the neighbourhood!
- Personal or room fans cost less to run than air-conditioners.
How to save money on heating water
- Take a shower instead of a bath.
- Efficient showerheads use less water and therefore less electricty to heat that water.
- Shorten shower times – give everyone a target of say, 10 minutes and think up a suitable ‘fine’ for those that run over, ie bin duty for a week!
- Washing dishes by hand uses less hot water than using a dishwasher.
- If you do use a dishwasher, only run it when there is a full load.
How to save money on lighting
- Replace old-style incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LEDs.
- Get everyone into the habit of turning a light out as they exit a room. Do a quick run through the home before you go out or before bed to ensure un-needed lights are off.
- Recessed downlighting is an energy-sucker. Consider replacing them with modern LED downlights that are rated to have compatible insulation fitted over the top.
- Once the kids are in bed, turn off the main living area lights and use a lamp for reading or TV watching.
How to save money on the laundry
- Front loading washing machines use a lot less water and therefore energy than top loaders.
- Cold wash is usually sufficient for most laundry loads.
- Skip the dryer and hang the washing out on the clothesline.
How to save money on appliances
- Look for energy-efficienty ratings when purchasing new appliances.
- Old fridges and freezers are notorious for costing a fortune to run. If you have a couple in use, think about doing away with the oldest one.
- Consider using a bench-top cooker for small dishes instead of heating up a large oven every time you want to cook.
- Have your home baking ready to go into the oven once dinner is cooked – you will save the energy needed to preheat the oven.
- Turn off appliances at the power source when not in use and unplug devices and phones once they are fully charged. BUT, things like your television, media boxes, internet modems, etc, don’t really like being turned off completely. Leaving them in standby mode may cost you a few cents but will likely save you hours of hair-pulling trying to get things working again.
For more tips on saving money on your power bill and making your home more energy-efficient, visit the Energywise website.