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Free ways to Save Energy in the Home

There are lots of ways we can all save energy and therefore money around the home. Some cost thousands of pounds, like solar panels, wind turbines or double glazing, some cost a few hundred such as insulation and some, such as DIY draught proofing measures or energy saving lightbulbs, just a few pounds. These are all very well if you have money to spend but is there anything you can do that won’t cost you anything?

Free energy saving measures are not just good for your pocket; they’re good for the environment too. If a product has to be purchased in order to save energy then it has to manufactured and transported, both of which have a carbon cost, though of course when the energy saved is taken into account there may still be a net carbon saving. Simple things like switching lights of when you leave a room do not use any carbon and so they are all profit.

Switch of Lights and Don’t Use Standby

First of all it’s worth reiterating some of the basics. Tremendous amounts of energy are literally wasted every year. Leaving a light on when there’s no one in a room not only wastes electricity, it means the light bulb will burn out quicker and have to be replaced more often. As well as costing money, replaces bulbs is an inconvenience.

When a television is left on stand by, it uses something like 17% of the amount of energy which it does when in use. A similar statistic applies to computers left in hibernate mode and microwaves with electronic displays. It might seem like a great pain to go around switching all of your appliances off but it is something you will very quickly get used to. If you do get used to it you can expect to save around £10 per year. This might not seem like a great amount but it needs to be considered alongside other measures and after all, you wouldn’t put £10 per year down a drain!

Draught Proofing

It is possible to have your home properly draught proofed, relatively cheaply, but there are plenty of things you can do that cost nothing at all. First, keep all internal doors closed in cold weather. This will help stop heat from arrears such as the lounge being lost into other areas, such as hallways, that don’t really need to be heated. In particular, make sure that any internal doors leading off a hallway are closed before opening an external door.

Keeping curtains or blinds closed will help prevent heat from escaping. You’ll want to have the curtains open in certain rooms during the day of course, but is it necessary in every room? What about a spare bedroom or the bathroom?

Simple draft excluders are easy to make. Just take an old pair of tights or stockings or similar and stuff with shredded newspaper. Placing a draft excluder at the bottom of an external door can make a big difference. A piece of spare, heavy material (such as a piece curtain) attached to a letterbox by Blu Tac to form a flap will help keep out drafts. It may not look great but it can easily be removed if you have guests and replaced afterwards. A keyhole cover will also help keep draughts down.

Consider Switching Providers Periodically

This is really about saving money rather that saving energy but it’s definitely worth thinking about. Energy companies are constantly competing for our business and the difference between the cheapest and most expensive provider at any one time can be as much as £100. You should start by checking with price comparison websites, say, every six months or when you notice your bills start to rise.

Switching should be quite simple. Most contracts don’t have an exit fee but there is often a 28 day notice period so once you’ve found an alternative you like, contact your current provider and advise them you want to switch. You may find they offer you a better deal that you’re happy with and you actually stay put. If you are still intent on switching, call your new provider and follow their instructions, they should do most of the work for you. The whole process, including the notice period, should take around 6 weeks.

Energy Saving Tips for Heating

Turning your thermostat down by just one degree is unlikely to make any discernible difference to how warm your home feels but it will make a difference to your pocket, about £30 per year on average, and to the environment.

Another good energy saving tip is to turn your heating off half an hour before you leave the house. That way it will still be warm up to you leaving but you are not paying to heat it after you’ve gone. The temptation when returning to a cold house is to put the heating on full and try to get the house warm as quickly as possible. Instead, it may be more efficient to set your heating to come on half an hour before you expect to return so that when you do, the temperature is more comfortable.

Energy Saving Tips for Cooking and Hot Water

When cooking, try and use a pan that’s the same size as the ring you are using. This will help to prevent heat loss. If you have flames licking up the side of the pan then apart from being dangerous, it’s a waste of energy. Use lids too as the contents will heat faster.

Think about using a microwave or pressure cooker where possible.

Kettles use a lot of energy and a build of limescale can make a kettle much less efficient. De-scale your kettle‘s limescale with vinegar. As well as improving efficiency, your kettle will last longer. Of course, you should only boil as much water as you need.

A lot of people have their hot water thermostat set too high. 60 degrees should be a comfortable temperature for most people and will help reduce heating costs. You can experiment with different temperatures of course; you find the level that’s comfortable for you.

Use Appliances Efficiently

When using your washing machine try to use a lower temperature setting, this should be possible in most cases with modern washing powders. Also, try to wash a full load wherever possible. Use the half load setting if you need to but remember that this setting will use more than half the energy of a full load.

Don’t use tumble dryers. Either use a washing line or a clothes horse; avoid placing clothes directly on radiators as the room will take longer to warm up.

A modern dishwasher can use less energy than washing up by hand.

Use your fridge and freezer efficiently. Leaving the fridge door open will mean it has to work harder, as will placing hot food directly in it. The fridge should be placed away from heat sources such as radiators and boilers and preferably in a cool room or garage.

Free Solar Panels

There are a number of companies offering free solar panels so they can take advantage of the feed in tariff payments being offered by the government. The installer gets the tariff payment and you get the benefit of cheaper electricity bills.

2 Comments to Free ways to Save Energy in the Home

  1. May 26, 2011 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this article. The tips you mentioned were definitely worth thinking about!

    • Irma Worden's Gravatar Irma Worden
      September 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Agree with you. There are lot of tips here which were new to me. It will definitely help us to get rid of excessive usage of energy. I think using solar panel is the best possible option make use of free natural resource which converts into energy very easily. 🙂

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