Maybe you’re a summer person; maybe you really dislike the cold and grey of a British winter. Whatever your favourite season happens to be, for all of us at this time of year there’s more than a little anxiety thanks to the rising cost of energy. As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop it’s time to turn the central heating on – and that means bigger bills. When you combine the need to use more energy with the recent (and predicted) price rises, that can throw any budget into disarray. However, it doesn’t have to be as bad this year, as there are lots of ways to make sure that your home is more energy efficient – so that it costs you less to run.
Washing your clothes
It’s no myth that washing clothes at a lower temperature will save you cash – and it’s better for the environment too. Dropping the temperature of your wash from 40 degrees to 30 degrees can save you around a third on the cost of the wash.
Investing in insulation
Poorly insulated homes leak heat and if your home is leaking heat then you’re going to need twice as much energy to keep it warm – sending your bills sky high. Install insulation and you can considerably cut your spend. According to British Gas, sorting out your loft insulation could save you up to £140 a year in energy bills while wall insulation can save up to £160.
Kit your home out with energy-efficient products
Appliances such as the fridge and the freezer can use up a vast amount of energy. When you’re shopping for new appliances for your home don’t just choose on the basis of aesthetics or even functionality – look at the energy efficiency too. Most appliances should now come with energy efficiency information clearly marked. The size of an appliance tends to have a big impact on how much energy it uses too – the smaller the appliance, the better.
Get used to flicking the ‘off’ switch
When you’re not using gadgets or appliances, make sure that they are switched off. Get everyone in the house used to turning off the light when you leave the room or using lights on a lower setting. Some appliances are consuming energy simply by being plugged in – you don’t even have to be using them. So, be more aware of the devices and items that you leave plugged in and switched on, from phones and laptops to entertainment systems.
Be more heating efficient
No one wants to wake up in a cold room on a winter morning – or come home to a cold house. But you can save cash by avoiding leaving the heating on for long periods of time when there’s no one in the house to enjoy it. Use the timer settings on your heating instead. Set the heating so that it comes on around 15-30 minutes before you need your home to be warm and time it to go off around the same amount of time before you go to bed.
Deal with the draughts
We lose roughly 35% of the heat from our homes via gaps and holes and undealt-with draughts around the house. So, you can significantly improve the energy efficiency of your home if you take the time to work out where draughts in your home might be coming from – and put a stop to them. Thick curtains, for example, can retain heat where there are gaps between windows. Or you can install secondary glazing, either the glass option or the far cheaper plastic sheeting, which costs around £8 per window.
Consider generating your own energy
The cost of electricity goes up by roughly 10% each year – it’s a utility that we’re using more and more of and which becomes ever more expensive. So, it makes sense to look into the options for generating your own electricity. From solar panels on the roof to wind turbines, there are a lot of options now for homeowners (or even tenants) to look into how electricity might be generated by the individual to cut the cost of energy bills. Feed-in Tariffs set up by the government pay those producing electricity for every unit generated, whether it’s used in the home or sold back to the grid. So, not only can you reduce your dependency on high priced electricity from energy providers by setting up your own supply, but you can generate cash from it too.
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam