Suffolk energy expert Peter Gudde offers advice on reducing energy consumption in your home
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. Sound like what we are living through?
Even the consumer hero, Martin Lewis has admitted that he is running out of tools to advise householders on how to combat energy price rises. And it’s looking bleak for next winter unless global gas prices take a plunge.
We need to be prepared for a further price shock in the Autumn when the energy cap gets reset to accommodate the high market prices that are being witnessed now. April saw a 50% price rise to those on standard variable tariffs. Home oil prices have jumped over 50% although they may drop back when demand reduces in the summer. Autumn could see us paying even more for home energy. How much, no-one really knows.
Having a household energy plan is a really smart move which does not have to involve complicated technologies or even major outlay. That being said, in a future Green View I will run through the things we can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency before next winter.
So, what can you do now at no or low cost?
Here’s my list of 30simple things you can do to cut your energy bill now. Some may work for you; some may not be possible because of your circumstances. But I guarantee you will find at least five things you can try today. I have not put them in any order as a way of tempting you to read them all to find your top five.
1 - First and foremost, look round your house and see what’s using energy and then turn it off. Then start turning things back on one-by-one. This way you will quickly see what is costing you most. A smart meter will really help you see where you are spending on energy. Don’t believe the negative comments about them – a good smart meter is a real money saver.
2 - Put lids on cooking pans – you will heat the pan with less energy and reduce condensation as well.
3 - Fill the kettle with only what you need. There is no point boiling more.
4 - Dry clothes outside or, dare I say, wash them less – a good sniff and visual check will tell you what your best friend won’t.
5 - Both the washing machine and dishwasher use cold water so you could be heating more than you think. Change to a lower temperature setting and run with a full load.
6 - Don’t leave things on standby although these days most TVs and set-top boxes use very little power.
7 - Be a draught detective. Warm air is drawn to cold places and escapes the home through the easiest routes like poorly fitting windows, doors or open chimneys. Fill any gaps or holes. Be careful about maintaining some controlled ventilation.
8 - If you don’t need to heat a room, turn the radiator down to the frost setting.
9 - If you have a hot water cylinder with central heating, don’t heat hot water using the electric immersion.
10 - Insulate any hot water pipes even if they run inside living spaces. They are not designed to be unofficial radiators.
11 - Get your curtains lined.
12 - Don’t cover radiators – they need to be able to circulate the air they warm.
13 - Charge your mobile in the car, on the bus or at work! This is a cheeky one and you may need permission.
14 - Insulate your loft hatch.
15 - Put a cover on the inside of your letterbox flap.
16 - Change your lightbulbs to LED.
17 - Close doors to unheated rooms.
18 - Cook together, cook meals in batches.
19 - Clean your radiators and the back of your fridge – fluff and debris can really reduce the efficiency of both.
20 - Don’t set your hot water programmer to constant – this is a contentious one but with a well-insulated hot water cylinder using a timer is more efficient.
21 - If you’re on Economy 7 and use electricity for hot water, set your electric immersion to work at night to take advantage of the off-peak rate.
22 - Don’t use plug-in electric fans or convector heaters instead of central heating.
23 - If you have a dishwasher, fill it, and run on a medium setting – most modern machines use less energy than washing by hand.
24 - Close curtains at night to provide additional draught proofing and insulation.
25 - Use your radiator controls, called TRVs, to manage room temperatures not the room thermostat.
26 - Turn down the central heating water temperature at the boiler by a degree or two if you can. This won’t affect the temperature in the house but will reduce the demand on the boiler and reduce the energy used.
27 - Check your fridge and freezer settings and adjust them to the warmest setting without harming the contents. Keep frost-free.
28 - Adjust your room thermostat down as far as you can cope. 18-21° centigrade is the minimum recommended range for living spaces. For every 1 degree you turn the stat down the energy saving is around 10%.
29 - Don’t forget to ventilate. This may seem ironic but having some air circulation, especially if you are drying clothes or cooking, is important to reduce condensation. A damp home is far harder and costly to heat than a dry one.
30 - And finally, get active. It may seem a simple thing but don’t sit still if your home is cold. Get your own central heating system working.
- Peter Gudde is an energy adviser and environmental researcher