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Simple ways to save energy at home

By Kat Sommers

Saving energy doesn't have to mean shelling out on a new boiler. A few quick wins make a big difference, whether you're a homeowner, renting your home or living with your parents.

An illustration of a person watering a plant having just put a wash in.

Save energy in the kitchen

  • Only fill the kettle with what you need

  • Keep your fridge full and dust-free

  • Spend less time cooking by using your microwave

  • Wash up in a bowl of warm water

An illustration of a fridge, and a cat minding its own business.

Saving energy around the home is as simple as making a cup of tea. But before you flip on that kettle, remember only filling it with what you need could save you around £6 a year.

Making life easier for your fridge will save you more. Dust behind it once in a while to keep its coils clean and working efficiently. And as strange as it seems, keeping it full actually makes it work less hard, as the chilled food items help to keep the temperature down.

Buying an energy-efficient slow cooker is one way of cutting your energy bills. But your microwave is an unlikely energy saving hero too. By using less time to cook, it uses less energy too. This energy saving cake takes just two minutes to bake, though it's unlikely to bag you a spot on The Great British Bake Off any time soon.

An illustration of a bowl of spaghetti in an open microwave

Another simple change is good news for the planet as well as your pocket - washing up in a bowl of warm water.

Not leaving the hot tap running can cut your energy bills by up to £25 a year, but it also cuts your annual carbon impact by 130kg. That's the weight of one large tiger.

Energy efficient laundry tips

  • Always try to fill your washing machine

  • Wash clothes at 30 degrees

  • Let clothes dry naturally

A bunch of clothes struggling to hang on a clothes horse as a cat climbs over knocking off pants, socks and a t-shirt.

Cut down on the number of washes you do by filling your washing machine. Waiting until you have enough dirty clothes for a full load could save you £5 on your annual energy bill, not to mention a further £7 on metered water bills.

Setting your machine to wash at 30 degrees uses 57% less electricity than at higher temperatures. That'll earn you an annual saving of £7 a year.

And drying clothes is free, if you can hang them outside or on a clothes horse. Line-drying them instead of using a tumble dryer in the summer will pocket you £30 a year.

Using less energy in the bathroom

  • Take showers not baths

  • Spend one minute less in the shower

  • Ditch the hairdryer and hair straighteners

Spending one minute less in the shower each day could save £7 per person per year. Or swap that relaxing bath once a week for an invigorating five-minute shower. That's the full length of Careless Whisper, so do your best George Michael impression and hop out to save yourself an extra £5 a year.

A person enjoying their shower while possibly enjoying the saxophone instrumental in 'Careless Whisper'.

That may not be much in pounds and pence, but it punches way above its weight in terms of its impact on the planet. If a family of four each swapped one bath a week for a shower, they'd reduce their annual carbon impact by 70kg.

As for drying yourself, a hairdryer and hair straighteners are some of the most energy-draining devices in your home. Embrace those curls and ditch them altogether, or at least use them on a cool setting to save money.

Cut your bills with a smart meter

  • Get a smart meter installed for free

  • See how much energy you're using in pounds and pence

  • Work out which appliances use the most energy

  • Set a budget

  • Switch off appliances using a lot of energy

Knowledge is power. It's much easier to save money when you know what you’re spending it on in the first place.

A smart meter lets you keep an eye on your energy spending as you go. According to Smart Energy GB, 85% of smart meter households were able to make changes to their behaviour that resulted in saving money. You can get a smart meter installed for free if you're a Bulb member.

A smart meter's display shows how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. And it's in real time, so you can work out which appliances are the most expensive, and test the effects of all the energy saving tips on this page.

An illustration of a person turning off their TV with a remote.
You can even set a daily, weekly or monthly budget to keep you on track (don't worry, the meter will simply beep when your limit is reached. You won't lose your energy supply.)

Information like this lets you make smarter energy choices. It'll remind you to turn off lights when you leave the room, for instance, and shave off £14 from your annual energy bill. Or not leave your telly and games consoles on standby mode. Believe it or not, but that little red dot could be costing you up to £30 a year.

Low-cost ways to save money on your heating

  • Turn down your thermostat by one degree

  • Block draughts with a towel

  • Close curtains to stop heat escaping

  • Keep radiators clear and dust-free

  • Switch off radiators you're not using

  • Stick tin foil behind radiators to reflect heat back into room

Heating our homes can be an expensive business. We all want to stay warm and cosy, especially during the winter. But we don't want our energy bills to double.

Of all the quick wins you can do right now, turning your thermostat down by one degree makes the biggest difference.

A graph showing how different actions around the house can save you money on your yearly energy bill.
These are the savings each household could make in a year for each action:
Save £80 by turning your thermostat down one degree
Save £30 by switching your devices off stand-by mode
Save £25 by using a bowl to wash up
Save £14 by turning off lights when you don't need them
Save £7 by spending 1 minute less in your daily shower
Save £6 by only filling the kettle with the water you need
and save £5 by doing one less wash a week

This tiny act not only saves you £80 a year, but it also avoids 320kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. That's the hard work of 160 trees - enough to fill four tennis courts.

Another way of saving money is making the most of the heating you already have. Block draughts with a towel. Close curtains to keep the heat in. And get radiator savvy: if there's a room (or two) you don't spend much time in, then switch off the radiator, or turn it right down, and shut the door to save energy.

Radiators will also work much more efficiently if you dust between their 'fins' and keep them clear of any obstacles or furniture (or drying socks, for that matter).

You can even get your Blue Peter on: installing a panel of reflective foil behind your radiators could save you up to £19 a year. But a bog-standard sheet of kitchen tin foil does the job and is a low-cost alternative.

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