From leaving the lights on in the lounge to spending a little too long in the shower, the small choices we make can have a big impact on our energy bills.
A whopping 36% of us also report using more energy in the winter months, according to The Energy Savings Trust. So as we continue spending more hours than ever in our homes, there’s never been a better time to reassess and work out where you can save energy – and that all-important cash.
Here’s our room by room guide to how to look after the pennies.
As it’s where you do all of your cooking, as well as plenty of cleaning, the kitchen is a great place to start making money-saving tweaks. The Energy Savings Trust recommends a series of super-simple first steps, like making sure you aren’t boiling more water than you need and trying not to open the oven too often when your food is in there.
If you live in a house share, try cooking together more often – or taking it in turns – instead of separately making dinner. Not only will there be less to do, but it’ll also cut the amount of energy being used each evening.
You can reduce food costs by planning your meals. Knowing that you have a delicious supper lined up – and that all the ingredients are already in the fridge – should help lower the temptation to order a takeaway.
Georgina Wilson-Powell, author of Is It Really Green? and founder of sustainable living magazine pebble, has done the maths on one of the most-commonly asked kitchen questions: which is more efficient, the dishwasher or cleaning dirty dishes by hand?
“The dishwasher is the better option, because it uses a lot less water,” she reveals. “It uses about a quarter of the amount of water compared to washing up by hand as when you run a tap, you go through around nine litres of water a minute.
“Run the dishwasher on a full load and on an eco-setting then let the plates dry, rather than doing the drying cycle.”
Living room and bedrooms
The amount of energy used up by electrical appliances, such as your TV and games consoles, being left on standby really does add up. The Energy Savings Trust estimates that turning them off at the mains can save you up to £35 a year. Making sure lights are turned off when you don’t need them can save you an extra £15 a year, too.
A surprising way to save cash in the living room and in your bedroom is to think about creating a super cosy vibe without reaching for the thermostat. Turning your heating down by just 1 degree can save 10% of your yearly energy costs, so go for an extra blanket instead.
Draught-proofing your windows and doors will also make your home more pleasant while saving cash, says Wilson-Powell. Doing this can add an extra £35 a year to your growing savings pot.
It’s worth thinking about where the heat in your home comes from too. “If you’ve got hot water cylinder, you can put an insulated jacket round it, which will save another £20 a year,” she says. “And you can put reflective panels behind your radiators, so the heat is reflected back into the room. What you want to do is capture heat and not let it out.”
Saving energy in the bathroom is all about reducing water usage and you can probably guess the most effective change – yes, it’s making luxurious soaks in the bath a special treat and showering instead.
“We still go through a lot more water than we think though,” warns Wilson-Powell. “We often run the shower while we’re doing other stuff or waiting for it to get warm. Think about being in the shower for the length of your favourite song. That’s a really good time and it is long enough to wash your hair and everything, but keep the water usage to a minimum.”
Your water usage can also be reduced by making one small purchase: a water hippo. This bag-like device goes into the toilet cistern and cuts down the amount of water used per flush.
Get help with investments
The government’s Green Homes Grant scheme offers up to £5,000 towards bigger changes that will improve how energy efficient your home is, such as better insulation or upgrading heating controls.
It’s not just homeowners who can get help either – if you’re a tenant, Wilson-Powell recommends speaking to your landlord as they can claim the grant and use it to improve the space you rent. Find out more information here.