We all want to do our bit to save the planet but are we doing enough around the house to cut down our energy bills and, in the process, save ourselves some much needed money? There are a few simple steps you can take that will put more cash in your pocket and less of it in the hands of the big six energy providers.
Get rid of those draughts: Most houses lose heat through unwanted draughts and it’s not just from doors and windows. A small investment in proper draught-proofing products can save you around £20 to £30 a year. Don’t only check the doors and windows; you can cut out those unhealthy breezes by sealing the skirting boards and floor and, in older houses, the chimney opening.
Turn off those appliances: If you are leaving your television and DVD players on standby overnight then you are wasting electricity and money. You could be saving up to £40 a year by turning them off when not in use.
Stop using the long wash cycle: Switching your washing machine to a shorter wash cycle at a lower temperature can save you up to £20 to £30 a year. Most modern detergents are pretty good and you don’t have to use long cycles to get your clothes clean. Making sure you have a full load also helps to cut down on the cost.
Time for a new boiler? Whilst it is obviously a big investment, if you have an old, energy inefficient boiler then you will save money in the long run by getting a new one. With advances in heating technology a new boiler can save you up to £300 a year. If you don’t have the money, consider putting in a thermostat, a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves so that you can control the heating more efficiently.
Is your existing boiler properly insulated? A boiler contributes a lot to your energy bill so it pays to have it lagged properly. Many people are unaware that this simple measure can save them quite a lot of money.
Insulate those cavity walls: Most people have had this done as a matter of course but there are still some houses out there without adequate cavity wall insulation. Whilst it can be expensive (around £500) having this done can save you around £150 a year.
Is your loft well insulated? We all know that good insulation in the loft saves on heating bills. But have you checked it recently? Is it still in good condition? Is it the right thickness? Topping up your insulation from 100mm to a thickness of 270mm can save you more money than you think.
Install energy efficient light bulbs: They come in all shapes and sizes now and there’s no excuse for not having them and they can save you up to £40 a year. Similarly, switching off lights when they are not in use can also save you money. Do you really need to leave the landing light on at night?
A few more quick tips for saving energy and money at home:
• Turning your thermostat down by a mere 1?C can save you as much as £80 a year.
• Don’t be tempted to turn the heating up, put on an extra jumper, some thick socks and, at night, put an extra blanket on your bed.
• Eating a ready meal? Two minutes in the microwave is a lot less expensive than twenty minutes in the oven on gas mark 5.
• If you are using the oven, bake as much as you can at the same time to get the most out of your space.
• Don’t fill your kettle to the top – fill it with as much as you need.
• Check your curtains – thermal curtains will keep the heat in more than normal, unlined ones and are a good investment.
Why you should swap supplier
It is happening more now that the big six energy suppliers are in the firing line, but still a number of people fail to shop around for a better deal. You can go on a comparison site right now and find out who is offering cheaper gas and electricity and it’s much easier to swap than it used to be. With average utility bills over a thousand a year, every little saving you can get will make a difference to your household budget.
Is it worth getting solar panels?
The thing that puts people off solar panels, which at first look seem an attractive idea, is the cost. Although the prices have come down from about £12,000 to around £7,000 it still presents a considerable investment. The attraction is that you can sell your residual electricity to the grid and so get money back while also saving on your own supply.
If you are thinking of getting solar panels, remember that you will need to have a south facing roof. In some parts of the UK you can even get them fitted free – the installer takes the profit from the power that is sold back to the grid but you still make a saving on your home energy bills.
If you can’t afford the big changes to your energy consumption it pays to have a search round to see if there are any grants out there that you can claim to make it easier on your pocket. Even if there isn’t, you can still take simple measures to cut down the cost of your energy bills whether it’s changing the light bulbs or merely putting on that extra jumper.
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