Gas and electricity are scarce resources and the price we’re being asked to pay for their consumption in our homes is a reflection of that. But with household budgets coming under ever more pressure these days, it’s essential that we look at how much energy we use and, crucially, how we can cut our energy bills.
Good job, then, that it’s often the little things that can make a big difference. Take the kitchen, for instance, where demand for gas and electricity is huge. With a few clever tweaks here and there, and a bit of ‘green’ education, we can all save ourselves a tidy sum on our energy bills. Every little helps, as they say somewhere.
We all know that steamed vegetables are healthier than boiled veg because they keep more of their nutritional content, and they’re tastier too. Invest in a multi-tiered steamer and prepare two or three lots of different vegetables on the same hob ring, saving energy.
Have you ever used a pressure cooker? An old favourite with previous generations, this clever pan can really speed up the cooking process, which is particularly useful for dishes involving pulses or (dried) beans that can take hours to cook. Try pressure cooking a meat joint – the result will be tender and succulent in half the time compared to oven roasting.
Cast iron saucepans are best for heat retention compared to stainless steel or aluminium cookware, meaning you can cook on a lower heat setting. In terms of health, using cast iron pans actually help you increase your iron intake – how handy is that?
Did you know that oven-proof glass and ceramic dishes are most energy efficient to use in the oven? Replace your roasting tins with earthenware or glass and roast or bake at lower temperatures.
Speed up roast vegetables by cutting them into smaller pieces and parboiling potatoes first. For baked potatoes or joints of meat and cakes, inserting stainless steel skewers will also help reduce the cooking time.
Make the most of the temperature in your oven and batch bake while the oven is hot. You could roast two chickens on Sunday – one for lunch and one for the fridge to have later in the week.
For maximum efficiency, position your fridge/freezer so that there’s enough air to circulate around it, and keep it away from other sources of heat, such as next to the oven or in direct sunlight.
It goes without saying that you should never leave the door of your fridge or freezer open for any longer than necessary. However, did you know that you should never put hot food directly into the fridge or freezer for the same reason? Let it cool down first so that your appliance doesn’t have to work so hard, and reduce your energy bills in the process.
Cooling the air inside your fridge uses more energy than chilling food, which is why your fridge/freezer will operate more efficiently if it is full – but not overcrowded.
A full wash load is always more energy efficient than several little loads, so wait until the machine is full before you put it on. Make sure you soak heavily soiled items first to avoid having to wash them again.
For regular washing, there is no need to set the temperature higher than 30°C. Only particularly dirty items will require a hotter wash. Did you know that you can save up to a staggering 1/3 by reducing your washing temperature from 40°C to 30°C? Makes you think, doesn’t it…
Don’t be tempted to dry your washing on central heating radiators because this will make your boiler having to work harder – and forget about a tumbler drier if you want to reduce your energy bills. Instead, dry your laundry outside where possible or invest in a modestly priced clothes drying rack.
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