There has never been a greater need for energy consumers to take steps to reduce their energy usage. Of course, we would would all like to save money, but the need to run a more energy efficient home is now, more than ever, driven by environmental concerns. With this in mind, we have prepared a list of simple tips that anyone can use to save energy, and the planet too!
10 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill
The good news is that nobody needs to employ an electrician or builder to carry out most of these simple suggestions. All that is required is a few small changes that will take very little time or money to achieve. These are not the only ways to save gas and electricity usage, but they are a simple and effective way to start.
1: Understand Your Electric Bill
Millions of householders may be paying more than they need to for gas and electricity. There are often cheaper tariffs available which can save you up to £200 per year if you switch to them. Keep an eye out for these deals. Some energy suppliers charge extra for paper bills, so opt for online billing. Paying by direct debit is usually cheaper than waiting until the bill arrives before you pay. And even if the home is not fitted with a smart meter (and it’s a good idea to fit one), supplying your own meter readings will result in more accurate bills.
2: Extra-Insulate Your Home
Modern homes are built with a higher level of insulation than older properties, for example, double glazing is fitted as standard. But even if your home already has double glazing, it is worth considering other ways that heat can be lost in the property. For example, the loft. Insulation in the loft used to be laid to a thickness on 120mm, however now, the recommendation is a thickness of 270mm.
Cavity wall insulation is also an excellent way to reduce heat loss and lower bills. Even solid walls can be insulated as well. While there is obviously some expense involved in having this work carried out, grants are often available and worth researching. If you have a hot water heater, fit an insulating jacket. Ensure that any drafts, such as from under doors are excluded.
3: Monitor Your Energy Use
As we’ve already mentioned, smart meters can provide a much more accurate energy bill than a traditional meter, and the latest generation of energy monitors do a lot more besides. There are a number of apps available which will allow you to monitor energy usage via a smart phone, but the key is that the readings are acted on. For example switching off appliances instead of leaving them on standby is certain to result in energy saving. When choosing an appliance, purchasing the most energy efficient model can result in big savings.
4: Run Appliances at Night
Some energy companies offer a cheaper tariff at night which can result in considerable energy saving, but only if used correctly. The cost of daytime electricity is often very high with these tariffs. In order to lower your energy bill, it is not necessary to be doing your ironing at 3am! Many appliances, such as your washing machine can be used with a timer to take advantage of cheaper rates. It is up to the consumer to find out exactly what hours your energy company supplies cheap electricity at.
There is also a safety aspect. While small items such as phones are safe enough to charge at night, larger batteries have been known to overheat or catch fire when charging, so are best charged under supervision. It is also recommended by the Fire and Rescue Service, that tumble dryers should not be used while you are asleep.
5: Consider Your Light Bulbs
Even the humble light bulb has evolved greatly in recent years. We use them so often that we tend to forget about them, but we shouldn’t. A modern LED bulb uses much less power than its traditional counterpart. But as well as that, they last a lot longer too. An LED bulb costs around £1.71 per year to run. In comparison to a traditional light bulb, it could save a staggering £180 from your energy bill during its lifetime. And with LED bulbs costing as little as £3 each, they can pay for themselves within the space of a year. It should be emphasised that even when you switch to LED lights, it is still important to light your home efficiently. Only choose the power of bulb that is sufficient for your needs. For example a bedroom does not require lighting that could illuminate a football stadium!
6: Maintain an Efficient Fridge
In normal circumstances, your refrigerator is running, and therefore using power, constantly. But that does not mean that it uses the same amount of power in any situation. How you use your fridge can make a big difference to your energy bill. Firstly, as we have mentioned, choosing the most energy efficient model that meets your requirements will certainly reduce your electricity use. This is true of all your kitchen appliances. The principle to follow is to give the motor of your fridge as little work as possible to do.
With this in mind, it is important to keep the fridge away from heat sources such as ovens, hobs or boilers and, if possible, site it out of the path of prolonged direct sunlight. Never put hot food in the fridge for the same reason. Wait for it to cool down to room temperature first. Ensure that there is a sufficiently wide air gap of at least 5cm around the fridge and freezer so that warm air from the compressor can be dissipated.
Never leave the fridge door open. This will allow warm air in which will require extra power to chill down to the working temperature. With that in mind, organising the contents of your fridge, so that you spend the minimum amount of time rummaging around to find what you want, is always a good idea as it minimises the time that the door is open. Keep your fridge well stocked up, as a full fridge contains less air to be cooled. Keep food covered, as escaped moisture reduces the efficiency of the fridge.
Fridges require a little maintenance if they are to work efficiently. Keep an eye on the door seal. If it is split, it will let warm air in and will need to be replaced. The coils at the back of the fridge should be carefully dusted from time to time to improve their efficiency. It is important to check the actual temperature inside the fridge. It should be between 2.2 and 3.3 degrees Celsius. If it is at the low end of the scale, try bringing it up by half a degree. This small change will result in a surprising reduction in energy use.
7: Monitor Water Heater Temperature
It will be obvious by now, that monitoring is one of the key ways in which to reduce energy consumption. This applies equally to the hot water system. If your water heater is fitted with a smart thermostat or a programmable thermostat, it is a simple job to ensure that the water is heated sufficiently for your needs, but no more. There is little point in having scalding hot water coming from the tap, if you then have to cool it down to use it.
As well as temperature, water usage can be reduced along with your bills, by ensuring that leaking taps are fixed. It is a good idea to install a water-efficient shower head which feels just as powerful as a conventional model, bur reduces water use.
8: Replace air Filters Monthly
Domestic air filtration and air conditioning systems are more common in warmer climates, but if you have them in your home, they need to be checked and the filters changed regularly. Once a month or so is the recommended rate in the average household. A clogged filter not only forces the electric fan in the appliance to use more electricity, but it can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. This job may not be required so frequently during the winter months, but the filters should still be checked. Appliances such as tumble driers should have their air filter checked after every use, as a clogged filter not only reduces efficiency, but can be a fire hazard.
9: Use Smart Strips
A smart strip, or smart power strip is basically an electrical plug socket extension cable. To install it, you simply plug it in. It usually features one control socket for a device such as a television, which the user switches off. There are a number of smart sockets which also switch off at the same time, so devices such as WiFi routers or DVD players are not left on in standby mode. There are also a number of live sockets which are on all the time should items like a telephone be plugged into them. Smart strips are cheap to buy and can dramatically reduce home energy costs, so they soon pay for themselves.
10: Be laundry Smart
Washing machines come with a bewildering array of programmes and settings, but this can be an advantage. When doing the laundry, it is an advantage to set the temperature to a lower setting such as 30 degrees, to achieve a perfectly good result, regardless of what the supplier might suggest! A full load is more economical than two half loads, but don’t exceed the recommended capacity of the machine.
When it comes to drying, a washing line uses no power at all! But if you need to use a tumble dryer, ensure that any filters and sensors are clean. If you have a condenser dryer, empty the water tank before you start so that the dryer will not have to re-start half way through the cycle.
Ensuring that duvet covers are buttoned up will prevent other items from becoming trapped inside and not drying efficiently, which could prolong the drying cycle.
We hope that these simple energy saving steps will help you reduce your electricity bill and feel that you’ve done your bit for the environment too.