How to make your home energy efficient

Making some simple changes around the home can make a world of difference to both the planet and your monthly gas and electricity bills. But it can sometimes be a little confusing to figure out where to start - do you have to install solar panels everywhere, or can you start smaller? These energy efficiency tips should be relatively easy to do and, on the whole, shouldn't cost the earth.

Person turning off light switch

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How to save on your energy bills in the home - FAQs

Will turning my thermostat down save energy?

The first thing to try is to keep your heating low. This can be tricky, especially in winter, but the lower your thermostat, the lower your energy bill tends to be.

This doesn’t have to be a dramatic change - even a couple of degrees lower than your usual number could save you money.

In fact, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that lowering your thermostat by a degree could save around 10% on your energy bill. 

If the house gets a bit too chilly for you, close your curtains or invest in thermal curtains for winter to retain heat.

Also, installing a smart thermostat could also help save you hundreds of pounds a year.

These work by only heating the rooms you’re using, which heats your home more efficiently. You usually control them through your phone, so there’s no need to worry about another remote.

 

Does turning radiators down save gas?

If your radiator has a dial on the side of it - also known as a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) - turning this down or off in the rooms you're not using could save energy.

The dials usually have a scale from 0 to 6. Usually, the lowest temperature is 0 and 6 is the highest. If you can, aim for the lowest setting that's comfortable in the rooms you're using or 0 in the rooms you're not in. 

Most radiators use hot water to heat up. Turning the valve down reduces the volume of hot water going through the radiator. This uses less energy and potentially saves you money.

 

Does turning off switches save electricity?

Switching appliances off at the plug saves on energy and could save you roughly £55* a year.

So don't let energy vampires suck your funds away, turn off your electrical items like laptops, TVs, printers and washing machines at the wall. 

And of course, turn off the lights in any empty rooms. This simple tip could save you £20* per year.

 

Will washing my clothes at a lower temperature save energy?

Washing your clothes at 30 degrees, instead of higher temperatures, uses less energy. This can save at least £28* a year.

Just make sure you have a laundry detergent that works at lower temperatures – having to wash your clothes multiple times defeats the purpose.

Check prices for low temperature laundry detergent on Amazon

 

Speaking of detergent, you could save yourself even more by getting an Ecoegg, which replaces your detergent completely and lasts for up to 720 washes.

Check prices for the Ecoegg on Amazon
 
 

Can washing full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher save electricity?

When washing your clothes, remember to do it in full loads rather than several smaller loads, as this uses less energy. So, rally around the house and collect everyone’s washing. 

This also applies to the dishwasher - you should always ensure it's full before turning it on. If you can, reduce your use by 1 run a week. This could save you £14* a year.

 

Can defrosting my freezer save energy? 

Regularly defrosting both your fridge and your freezer helps them run more efficiently in the future. Also, it’s helpful to pack your fridge full. 

Surprisingly, the more food you stock, the less time the fridge has to run to remain cool.

If you have a lot of empty space in your freezer, you could fill it with bottles of tap water - these are useful in a heatwave!

 

Does saving water also save energy?

Small actions such as showering instead of taking a bath or turning the taps off while you brush your teeth can make all the difference. 

The Energy Savings Trust says that taking a 4-minute shower can save you a whopping £70* per year. In short, try to avoid running water for a long period of time. 

Also, when using the kettle, ensure you only fill it to the amount you need, rather than filling it to the maximum every time. Doing this can save you around £36* pounds a year.

 

Are air fryers energy efficient? 

This depends on the energy efficiency of the air fryer compared to your oven. 

A recent test by The Mirror revealed that using an air fryer to cook cauliflower wings saved 26 minutes running time than the oven, and cost 22p less.

If you ate cauliflower wings every day, this would mean a saving of £6.60 per month and £79.20 over a year. 

If you’re cooking for 1 or 2 people, it could be worth using the air fryer. This device can cook things quickly, so it saves you from warming your oven for a single portion. 

If you’re cooking a large dinner for several people it might not work as well in the air fryer.

For example you might have to cook items in different stages which could use more power. In this case it could be worth warming up the oven and cooking everything in there. 

Are slow cookers energy efficient?

According to the BBC, slow cookers score highly on energy efficiency. 

They’re designed to cook over long periods of time - usually between 3 and 6 hours - but this doesn’t mean they use more energy than your oven.

Slow cookers use a heating element, but mostly rely on trapped heat to cook your meal. 

Because most of them have a decent capacity, you can batch cook several meals in one go - saving more energy again.

Another plus of the slow cooker is that you could use cheaper cuts of meat and still make a tasty meal out of them. Cooking them over a long period means they should come out tender and full of flavour.

 

How to make your home more energy efficient

As well as altering your habits, there are many energy saving changes you can make to your home.

While the following may come at a cost, they all make up for it in terms of the money you save on heating bills. Not to mention they have the potential to make your home more valuable. 

It's worth letting your home insurance provider know if you make any home improvements that could increase your home's rebuild cost.

 

Insulate your loft

Properly insulating your loft can help keep the heat in your home and the energy bills down. In fact, having your loft insulated could save you hundreds of pounds each year.

This doesn’t have to apply exclusively to your loft. Insulating any cavity walls around the house can also drastically reduce carbon emissions and your heating bill.

 

Switch to LED light bulbs

The Energy Savings Trust estimates that you could save £55 a year on your electricity bill if you switch to light emitting diode (LED) light bulbs.

They’re a common and adaptable light fitting, and should replace dimmable lights and spotlights just as effectively as a regular bulb. 

LEDs are also more energy efficient than compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) which are another type of energy efficient bulb. CFLs are a good option though if you can’t get hold of LEDs. 

 

Get a new boiler

Although investing in a new boiler may be pricey, it can make the biggest difference to your home, as heating accounts for roughly 55% of your energy bills.

Therefore, upgrading from a G-rated boiler to one with an A-rating can save you around £300 a year.

 

Consider a smart meter 

A smart meter can help you keep track of the appliances that are using the most energy, and how much they’re costing you. 

A smart meter sends meter readings to your supplier automatically. That way you shouldn’t be under or overcharged for your energy. You can also forget about scrabbling around in a cupboard trying to read your meter as it does it all for you - another plus!

 

Try energy-efficient appliances

As well as energy-efficient light bulbs, switching to energy efficient appliances can make a world of difference. 

 For example, an electric oven with an A efficiency rating uses roughly 40% less energy than a B rated oven, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

Also consider energy-efficient dishwashers, fridge-freezers and even eco-kettles to keep your energy consumption down.

 

Opt for a water-saving shower head

Energy efficient shower heads work by reducing the amount of water used. They do this by mixing the water with air or lowering the flow rate of the water.

If you don’t want to spend money on a new shower head, simply try and reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower. If you can stick to 4 minutes this should help lower your bill.

The 2012 paper from the Department for Energy & Climate Change listed water-efficient shower heads as one of the top 6 things you can do to lower your energy usage.

 

Install double glazing

Double-glazed windows use 2 sheets of glass to trap more heat inside your house, allowing you to lower the thermostat and consequently, your bills.

Installing double glazed windows with a rating of A++ could produce annual savings of £175.

 

Try solar energy

An important thing to consider when it comes to increasing your energy efficiency is solar energy. Installing solar panels on your roof allows you to generate your own power instead of paying for it.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that you can provide 40% of your home’s energy with these cells. On top of that you can even sell excess energy back to the National Grid.

However, these systems don’t come cheap and can cost you roughly £6,500. Although this is pricey, they also result in the most savings. It’s important to check with your provider first, as some companies even offer free solar panels if you return any income made through selling the energy back.

 

How can you save energy if you work from home?

If you work from home, you naturally use more gas and electricity than if you were out at the office all day. This makes it even more important to be mindful of your energy usage. To save on energy while working from home, try:

  • Turning your laptop and monitors off at the plug when you’ve finished working
  • Turn off the lights in the rooms you’re not using
  • Invest in insulation
  • Close your curtains or blinds if there’s a draft 
  • Switch your light bulbs to LEDs  
 

How can I change my gas and electricity supplier?

Energy companies are struggling at the moment, so there might not be as many energy tariffs as normal. If you do look into switching and you don’t find a better tariff than your current one, then it could be worth waiting until better deals are available. 

If your energy supplier has gone bust it’s best not to switch until your account has moved to the new supplier. If you switch when you’re between suppliers you might find it more difficult to get any money you’re owed back. 

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*figures taken from the Energy Saving Trust