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.
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
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.
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.
Always try to fill your washing machine
Wash clothes at 30 degrees
Let clothes dry naturally
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.