Winter can be a costly time not just when it comes to Christmas shopping but in terms of energy consumption as well.
Here are our top tips to help keep your winter utility bills under control.
Free ways to save on heating
- Keep the radiators clear - If you have the space, avoid putting a sofa in front of the radiator as this blocks the heat from the room.
- Close the curtains - Windows aren't as insulated as walls, so draw the curtains and keep the cold out. But don't let the curtains drape over the radiators and draw the heat out of the room.
- Turn the thermostat down - Drop your home's temperature by just one degree and the Energy Saving Trust reckons you could save up to £65 a year on energy.
- Put a shelf above the radiator - If you have high ceilings, adding a shelf just above the radiator can help deflect heat into the middle of the room.
- Shop around for your energy tariff - Make sure you are on the best possible tariff with your energy provider; one that accounts for all of your consumption, with a little extra to account for any anomalous use. Check with other suppliers to make sure you're getting the best deal. Try clicking here: http://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/
- Put on a jumper! Finally, of course, there's the old-fashioned 'wear more layers' approach! Add a jumper, you might be able to turn the heating off for an hour less each day and see if you notice.
Free ways to save on appliances
- Buy a laptop, not a desktop PC - If you're going to buy a new computer, a laptop uses around 85% less energy than a new desktop, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Check your TV brightness - The factory settings on TVs are often too bright for homes, meaning you're wasting energy. Experiment with a lower setting.
- Don't use standby - By turning equipment off instead of leaving it on standby, you could save as much as £86 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Unplug chargers when the battery is full - Avoid leaving phones on charge unnecessarily, it can still waste energy.
- Turn off the lights - Get your family in the habit of switching off the lights when they leave the room.
Free ways to save in the kitchen
- Plan meals ahead - Save energy by defrosting food overnight in the fridge instead of microwaving it.
- Defrost the freezer - Make sure your freezer is running to its maximum efficiency by regularly defrosting it.
- Cut food into small pieces before cooking - By reducing the size of your food, you reduce the time it needs to cook.
- Stuff your freezer with newspaper - If there are empty drawers in your freezer, try filling them with scrunched up newspaper. It's better insulation and will help it use less energy.
- Cook in batches - One way to fill the freezer is to cook batches of food and freeze portions. This can also use less energy over time.
- Keep the fridge door closed - Encourage your family to only open the fridge door to remove or replace things, no browsing allowed!
- Plan your kitchen carefully - If you have space, keep your fridge or freezer as far away from any radiators as possible.
- Only boil what you need - Get in the habit of only boiling as much water as you need. Be careful to cover the heating elements though.
- Choose the right pan - If you use the right sized pan for your booking ring, your food will cook faster.
- Boil water in the kettle, not the pan - If you need boiling water to cook with, use the kettle and not the hob - it's more efficient.
- Switch off the oven really early - Depending on what you're cooking, consider turning off the oven before the timer goes off. Lots of food will keep cooking as the oven cools.
- Use a steamer - By using a steamer with several compartments, you can cook more than one vegetable using just one pan.
- Keep the oven door closed - Don't linger with the oven door open, you'll use more energy as it replaces lost heat.
Free ways to save with water
- Fix drips - Leaking taps waste water and leaking hot taps waste energy.
- Shower, don't bath - It's faster and cheaper than a bath.
- Take shorter showers - If everyone in your home cut their shower time by two minutes a day, you could save £20 a year according to E.ON.
- Check the water temperature setting - Set your thermostat to 60°C, that's fine for a hot bath. Scalding water on tap is wasteful and could be dangerous if you have kids.
Free ways to save with laundry
- Fill the machines - Don't run your washing machine or dishwasher half empty, make sure it's full and use an economy programme if it has one.
- Use the sun - When the weather is dry, hang wet clothes outdoors rather than using the tumble dryer. It doesn't need to be hot to dry clothes quickly.
- Don't drape the radiators - It's tempting to hang clothes on the radiators to dry but this makes the boiler work harder and costs more.
- Clean the filters - If you do use a tumble dryer, make sure its filters are regularly cleaned so it's operating as efficiently as possible.
- Use eco-balls - Adding eco balls to a tumble dryer helps the clothes dry faster by making gaps in the washing for the heat to circulate.
- Wash at 30 degrees - Many modern washing powders work just as efficiently at 30 degrees as they do at higher temperatures.
- Hang up once-worn clothes - Reduce your laundry pile by asking your family to hang their clothes up after wearing them once, so they're good enough to wear again.
Spend now, save in the future...
- Buy an efficient fridge - When you come to replace your fridge freezer, buy a highly efficient model. This could save you up to £36 a year according to British Gas.
- Buy a more efficient boiler - When you next need to replace your boiler, make sure it's a highly efficient model. Changing from a G-rated boiler to a new A-rated condenser could save you £300 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Install radiator panels - Some people believe that attaching these to the wall behind radiators helps reflect heat back into the room. According to EDF this could save you up to £60 a year on your heating bills.
- Exclude drafts - Adding draft excluders to your windows and doors could save around £25 a year on heating, according to British Gas.
- Cover keyholes - If you use letter box covers and keyhole covers, you can reduce draughts even further.
- Replace light bulbs - If you still have any old-fashioned light bulbs in your home, don't wait for them to blow. Replace them with energy savers and start reaping the benefits - The Energy Saving Trust says that switching to an energy saver could save you as much as £45 over its lifetime.
- Insulate walls - If you don't already have it, installing cavity wall insulation could save around £135 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- Insulate immersion tank - Any insulation helps your home work more efficiently, and insulating your immersion tank keeps water hotter longer.
- Fill the loft - Adding insulation could save you as much as £175 a year.
- Put film on your windows - You can buy Clingfilm-like film from DIY stores for a couple of pounds. Securing it to single-glazed windows can reduce the heat lost.
- Seal the floorboards - You can even insulate your floors. Most DIY stores sell tubes of sealant, allowing you to seal up gaps between skirting boards and the floor.
- Monitor your energy usage - Knowing how much power you're burning at any one time can encourage you to cut back, so fit an energy monitor.