Ways to save energy that you don’t already know
Another cold winter could spell problems for UK homes, with energy prices rising by more than 18%. Here are some lesser-known ways to save…
Felicity is pinching pennies for Yahoo! Finance
Felicity Hannah, 15:41, Friday 28 October 2011
The cost of gas, electricity and other fuels rose 18.3% on the year in September, according to Office for National Statistic figures. With another unusually cold winter predicted by some, that’s sending a chill down my back.
You’ve probably already read many well-documented ways to cut down on the amount of energy you use, such as only boiling the water you need and avoiding the tumble dryer. I’ve even looked at whether you can save cash by not washing your bed sheets.
But there are other ways to save energy in the home, even if they only make a small difference. It all adds up after all. So I’ve been looking for more unusual ways to cut back — I hope some of these are new for you too.
Use the microwave
There’s evidence to suggest that using a microwave to heat small amounts of food uses less energy than the oven.
Consider switching your broadband modem router off at night and when you’re out of the house. Admittedly, leaving it on constantly for an entire year costs just £7 — but then, this is a list of small ways to save!
Dust your fridge
Bizarre but true. According to British Gas, if you let dust gather on the condenser coils at the back of your bridge it can raise its energy consumption.
Free your radiators
Leaving clothes on radiators to dry might help you avoid the tumble dryer, but it also puts your boiler under extra strain. Hang your laundry on a clothes horse in a warm room instead or outside when the weather’s good.
Go vertical with your veg
You can cook several different foods on the same ring if you use a steamer and stack them up.
Shift your sofa
Is your furniture absorbing the heat from your radiator? Move your sofa so that it’s not blocking your radiators, if you can, so the heat can spread throughout the room. Similarly, a shelf just above the radiator can deflect heat into the room instead of towards the ceiling.
Cover your keyholes
If you have an old-fashioned large keyhole then the draft can be bad. A cheap keyhole cover from a DIY shop will make a huge difference.
Power off at the plug
Since 2010, electronic products sold in the EU are not allowed to have a standby power greater than 1W, so they aren’t as much of an issue as they have been. But the Energy Saving Trust claims the average UK home still wastes £35 a year powering gadgets left on in standby mode, so it’s still worth turning your appliances off at the wall.
Deal with draughts
If you have rattling window or door frames then cheap draught-excluder strips can save you as much as £25 a year, according to the consumer association Which?
Don’t leave chargers plugged in
This is true for everything with a power cable and a battery. Chargers frequently have lights on them or feel warm — that means they’re using power — so as soon as you’ve finished charging your phone, toothbrush or laptop, unplug the charger – rather than simply leaving the item charging overnight or taking the lead from it when the battery says it’s full.
Buy the best gadgets
Choosing the most energy efficiency appliances can save you real money, even if they cost a little more to start with. For example, according to Which?, the most efficient fridge freezer can result in annual savings of £75.
It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek but getting out of the house can really cut your heating costs, according to the comparison website uSwitch. It ran a survey that showed 13% of respondents visit family, friends and even the library to avoid heating their own home. With heating accounting for 42% of the average energy bill, it’s certainly worth turning the heating down or off when you do go out.
Prune your preheating
Don’t leave the oven preheating for longer than necessary. It might be convenient, but it’s a complete waste of energy.
Pocket money for going greener
Some of these tips won’t save you that much cash and it’s tempting to decide they’re not worth it. But they all help change your mindset, so you’re much more aware of the energy you use. They will cut down on our combined environmental impact and that has to be worth a small amount of inconvenience.
Felicity is Yahoo! Finance’s money-saving columnist. If you have a money-saving scheme you’d like to see tried out then let us know in the comment box below.
More money-saving features from Felicity