It’s getting colder and energy firms are busy pushing up prices. The recent round of gas and electricity price hikes average out at 7%, which is £90 more per customer, research by uSwitch shows.
With winter being the time most energy is used, those hikes are likely to hurt customers just in time for Christmas. In fact, prices are getting so tough that nearly nine in 10 households plan to ration their energy use this winter, according to a poll by the price comparison site.
So, we’ve been looking at ways homes can ration their energy use by cutting back. Some of these are big, some of them are small, and some you’ll be doing already – but they’ll all add up to a more efficient home that’s cheaper to run.
[Related story: The one energy firm that’s cutting prices]
Free ways to save on heating
1. Close the curtains - Windows aren’t as insulated as walls, so draw the curtains and keep the cold out. Don’t let the curtains drape over the radiators and draw the heat out of the room.
2. 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.
3. Keep the radiators clear - If you have the space, try to avoid putting a sofa in front of the radiator as this blocks the heat from the room.
4. Put a shelf over your radiator - If you have high ceilings then adding a shelf just above the radiator can help deflect warmth into the centre of the room.
5. Put on a jumper - Finally, of course, there’s the old-fashioned ‘use less’ approach. Don’t expect to wear a T-shirt in the house in December, add a jumper, run the heating for an hour less a day and see if you notice.
[Related link: Save money by switching energy supplier]
Free ways to save on appliances
6. Turn off the lights - Get your family in the habit of switching off the lights when they leave the room.
7. Ditch the ‘standby’ button - 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.
8. Only charge until the battery’s full - Avoid leaving phones on charge unnecessarily, it can still waste energy.
9. 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.
10. Buy a laptop not a PC - If you’re in the market for a new computer, a laptop typically uses around 85% less energy than a new desktop machine, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Free ways to save in the kitchen
11. Defrost the freezer - Make sure your freezer is running to its maximum efficiency by regularly defrosting it.
12. Cut food up smaller - By reducing the size of your food, you reduce the time it needs to cook.
13. 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.
14. Cook in batches - One way to fill the freezer is to cook batches of food and freeze portions. This can also use less energy.
15. Plan ahead - Save energy by defrosting food overnight in the fridge instead of microwaving it.
16. Avoid putting hot food in the fridge - Let it cool down first or your fridge will need to use more energy to stay cool.
17. Keep the fridge door closed - Teenagers are the worst for this! Encourage your family to only open the fridge door to remove or replace things, not browse.
18. Plan your kitchen carefully - If you have space, keep your fridge or freezer as far away from radiators as possible.
19. Only boil what you need - Get in the habit of only boiling as much water as you need – it can help to keep the kettle empty and measure water in using a mug. Be careful to cover the heating elements though.
20. Avoid flooding veg - The same goes for boiling vegetables; just use enough water to cover them so you don’t boil water unnecessarily.
21. Choose the right pan - If you use the right sized pan for your booking ring, your food will cook faster.
22. Boil in the kettle, not the hob - If you need boiling water to cook with, use the kettle and not the hob as it’s more efficient.
23. Position the pan right - Don’t waste energy and risk a burn by letting a pan sit wonkily on the hob.
24. Switch the oven off - 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.
25. Use a steamer - By using a steamer with several compartments, you can cook more than one vegetable using just one pan.
26. 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
27. Fix drips - Leaking taps waste water and leaking hot taps waste energy.
28. Shower, don’t bath - It’s faster and cheaper than a bath.
29. Shave time off your shower - If everyone in your home cut their shower time by two minutes a day, you could save £20 a year according to E.ON.
30. Use your plug - Don’t just run the tap while you need hot water, it’s a waste of energy. Put the plug in and use what you’ve got.
31. Don’t crank up the water temperature - 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
32. 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.
33. Use the sun - When the weather is dry, hang wet clothes outdoors rather than on the tumble dryer. It doesn’t need to be hot to dry clothes quickly.
34. Don’t drape the radiators - It’s so tempting to hang clothes on the radiators to dry but this makes the boiler work harder and costs more.
35. Clean your filters - If you do use a tumble dryer, make sure its filters are regularly cleaned so it’s operating as efficiently as possible.
36. 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.
37. Wash at 30 degrees - Many modern washing powders work just as efficiently at 30 degrees as they do at higher temperatures.
38. Hang up worn clothes - Reduce your laundry pile by asking your family to hang their clothes up after wearing them, so they’re suitable to wear again.
Pricier ways to save
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. Exclude drafts - Adding draft excluders to your windows and doors could save around £25 a year on heating, according to British Gas.
42. Cover your keyholes - If you use letter box and keyhole covers, you reduce draughts even further.
43. Replace your 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.
44. Insulate your walls - If you don’t already have it, installing cavity wall insulation could save around £135 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
45. Fill your loft - The same goes for your loft – adding insulation could save you as much as £175 a year.
46. Insulate your immersion tank - Any insulation helps your home work more efficiently, and insulating your immersion tank keeps water hotter longer.
47. Buy a more efficient boiler - When you next come 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.
48. Clingfilm your windows - No, not actual clingfilm. 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.
49. Seal your 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.
50. Monitor your energy - Knowing how much power you’re burning at any one time can encourage you to cut back, so fit an energy monitor.
Can you add anything to this list? Share your energy saving tips with other readers in the comments below.