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Energy saving quick wins
Lower cost tips
Turn it off
Almost all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems. Some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in so they can keep track of any programmes you want to record, but check the instructions on any appliances you aren’t sure about.
A typical household can save around £30 a year just by remembering to turn off appliances left on standby and those left on but not in use.
Careful in the kitchen
You can save over £45 a year just by using your kitchen appliances more carefully.
- Set your washing machine to wash at 30°C.
- Use a bowl to wash up rather than leaving the hot tap running.
- Don’t fill your kettle up every time, only boil the amount of water you need.
The £45 a year figure comprises a saving of £6 by washing at 30°C rather than a higher temperature; £32 by washing using a bowl rather than under a running tap; and £7 by only boiling what you need in the kettle.
Get a head
If you’ve got a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than an electric shower), then you may be able to fit a water efficient shower head. This can reduce your hot water usage whilst retaining the sensation of a powerful shower.
Some water companies are giving shower heads away for free. Contact your water company to see if you are eligible (this is not available in Scotland). By installing a water efficient shower head, a family of four could save around £67 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £100 on water bills if they have a water meter.
The calculation is based on the assumption that the family takes just under 20 showers a week and replaces a 13 litre/minute power-shower head with a 7.7 litre / min water efficient shower head, and the family are charged £3.01 per cubic meter of water used (includes sewage charge).
Medium cost tips
Unless your home is very new, you’re likely to be losing some heat through draughts around doors and windows, gaps around the floor, or through the chimney.
Why not buy some draught-proofing products for doors and windows, seal your skirting boards with silicone sealant, and fit a chimney draught excluder or sealed fire guards. DIY draught-proofing of windows, doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can cost around £200, but can save between £25 to £35 a year.
New heating controls
Whatever the age of your boiler, the right controls will let you:
- set your heating and hot water to come on and off when you need them
- heat just the areas of your home you want
- decide how warm you want each area to be.
By installing a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves, you could save up to £80 to £165 a year.
This allows you to make savings by using your controls more effectively. For example, turning down your room thermostat by just one degree, if it’s too warm inside, can save between £85 to £90.
We recommend having at least 270mm (ten inches) of loft insulation, so it might be worth checking whether you could make your home warmer by topping up levels of loft insulation. You could save up to £140 a year if your loft is uninsulated by installing 270mm of insulation. Topping up existing insulation from 120mm to 270mm can save around £15 a year.
Lighten your load
You can now get LED spotlights that are bright enough to replace halogens, as well as regular energy saving bulbs (‘compact fluorescent lamps’ or CFLs). They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings.
If the average household replaced all of their remaining old-fashioned bulbs with CFLs, and all of their halogens with LEDs, it would cost about £100 and save about £35 a year.
Higher cost tips
Cavity wall insulation
For homes built after 1920, the chances are that the external walls are made of two layers of brick with a gap or cavity between them. Cavity wall insulation fills that gap, keeping the warmth in to save energy. The average installation cost for cavity wall insulation is between £450 and £500 and can save up to £160 a year. The measure could pay for itself in less than four years.
Greater savings and income for renewable technology
While the Feed-in-Tariff for solar PV panels is going down, the average cost for electricity is going up. In addition, the cost of panels is going down which means that now can be a great time to invest in solar PV. A typical 4kWP panel could generate and save you £755 per year. Despite costs falling over the last year, they do vary between installers and system sizes (costs can be between £5,000 and £8,000), so we recommend getting quotes from at least three MCS accredited installers.
It’s also worth exploring renewable heating technologies, such as heat pumps, following the announcement of financial incentives through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Not only will households benefit from energy savings but they will also receive additional income for the energy produced.
Whole house energy makeover
There are plenty of other things that can be done to improve the energy performance of your home, such as floor and solid wall insulation, replacement doors and windows, or a new heating system.. There may be schemes to help finance a comprehensive package of improvements. We recommend calling the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 for guidance on the most appropriate package of improvements for you, and for information on available support.
If you're based in Scotland, contact Home Energy Scotland for help and advice on 0808 808 2282.
Read our infographic to find out how you can start saving today.
Energy saving myths
- Leaving the heating on all day on a low temperature is cheaper than turning the heating up and down, or on and off, as needed.
FALSE: For the majority of householders, leaving your room thermostat on all day at a lower temperature will not only mean that your home will never be at a comfortable temperature but it will also waste heat when you do not need it. Room thermostats turn the heat on and off when your home reaches the set temperature that you feel comfortable at. Combine this with a timer control that tells your heating system to come on only when you need it to save money on your energy bills.
- Cranking up the thermostat heats your home faster.
FALSE: Your room thermostat turns your heating system on or off according to a set temperature. No matter how high you set the temperature, the rate at which your central heating distributes heat remains constant. To heat your home faster, install better insulation. This decreases the rate at which heat is lost through your walls, loft, windows, and floor.
- Electrical appliances, such as TVs, laptops, phone chargers, don’t use electricity when they're plugged-in but not in use.
FALSE: Some electrical appliances and chargers draw energy even when the devices are not being used. This ‘vampire power’ wastes energy, and the best way to avoid this is to remember to switch off at the wall and pull out the plug.
By avoiding standby, and making sure devices are not left plugged in or idle, a typical home could save around £30 a year.
Based all home appliances, consumer electronics, lights and chargers that have been left on standby mode or have been left on and not in use, using the average electricity cost of 14.05p/kWh. This information is sourced from DEFRA’s Home Electricity Study.
- It is cheaper to run appliances, such as washing machines, at night than during the day
This may be true, but not for most of us. While some households in the UK are on tariffs that vary depending on the time of day, such as Economy 7, the majority of customers pay the same rate at all times of day and night. However, if you know you are already on an Economy tariff, or are considering switching to one, then running appliances during off-peak periods will be cheaper.
- With traditional light-bulbs fittings, you cannot do a straightforward swap with energy saving bulbs and LED light bulbs.
FALSE: Energy saving and LED light bulbs come in all shapes and sizes and can now be fitted in down-lighters, free-standing lamps and traditional pendants.
- Putting plastic tape and a layer of cling-film around draughty windows is better at keeping heat in rather than draught excluders or double glazing.
FALSE: Although physically blocking gaps around your windows with cling film or plastic tape may stop draughts and reduce heat loss, this will not be as effective as draught excluders or double glazing. These more permanent measures reduce heat loss more effectively, keeping you warmer and saving money on your heating bills.
- Cavity wall insulation causes damp in the home.
FALSE: In most cases, cavity wall insulation is likely to alleviate and not exacerbate damp in a home. A combination of proper insulation, adequate ventilation and balanced heating in a home will help avoid cold spots and moisture from condensing on your walls. Assessors should be able to advise you as to whether your home is suitable for insulation and any potential risk from damp.
- Solar panels don’t generate electricity on a cloudy day.
FALSE: Whilst solar panels will work most effectively in bright sunlight, they nonetheless continue to collect energy from diffuse light even on a cloudy day. Summer months are the most productive as there are longer daylight hours than in winter.
- When using a desktop computer, screensavers save energy.
FALSE: Because your screen remains on, screensavers are basically another programme which consumes energy like any other. While computers have timed sleep settings which do use less energy, switching off your monitor or even your whole computer when taking breaks is the most effective way to stop energy being wasted.
On average desktop computers cost around £23 a year to run.
Based on all home appliances, consumer electronics, lights and chargers that have been left on standby mode or have been left on and not in use, using the average electricity cost of 14.05p/kWh.
- It is difficult and a hassle to switch energy suppliers.
FALSE: There are a number of energy price comparison companies where you can find the cheapest tariff for your area by checking online or by telephone. Once you have filled in the application with your main details, which typically takes around half an hour, the energy provider will sort the switch for you. Finding the deal that’s best for you, and switching energy supplier, can be a great way to reduce your energy bills.
To find out more, including information on events about Big Energy Saving Week, visit The Citizens Advice Bureau.