November was unseasonably warm but now winter has definitely set her claws in, with temperatures due to reach the same all time lows as last year. Many of us are planning to stay at home over the festive season and heating and electricity bills will therefore sky-rocket. What with guests coming over, meaning that your house will need to be warm for longer, the festive lights being on and the cooker being in action most of the day, all these can have a devastating effect on your next quarterly bill. Fortunately, there are lots of little tricks you can use to ensure that your family stays warm and cosy for less. We have complied a list of energy-saving tips so that you and your family can still remain warm without the horror of a huge energy bill next year.
#1. Turn down your thermostat
If you turn down your room temperature by just one degree Celsius, you could cut your heating bills by up to 10%. This will give you, on average, a saving of £60 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. And don’t forget, you can reduce your bill even further by turning off radiators in bedrooms that are not being used, putting cooking foil behind them and if you have a fire in the living room, turn the radiator off in that room to conserve even more energy.
#2. Mind the gaps
Don’t waste energy and heating by having gaps at the windows and doors. Use a draught excluder by the front door to keep out any draughts and make sure there are no draughts coming in from windows. Keep them tightly closed at all times and buy some draught tape to fix around them. As soon as it gets dark, close your curtains and pull them under the radiators to conserve more heat.
#3. Turn it off
When you go to bed, or go out for a few hours, never leave your appliances on standby, this is an unnecessary waste of energy. Always remember to switch electrical appliances off at the socket when you’ve finished using them, and only charge laptops and mobile phones when you need to. Make sure you switch lights off when you leave a room and turn everything off before you go to bed, including the Christmas tree lights.
#4. Cooking the clever way
Try to be organised and defrost goods in the fridge overnight, rather than use the microwave. If you are cooking on the hob, select the same size ring that fits your saucepan base and always use a lid, this allows the food to cook faster. Christmas is the ideal time to cook food up in batches and store it in the freezer.
#5. Weighing up water
Set your water cylinder thermostat to 60 degrees Celsius, this is more than adequate. If you have a timer then set it to come on twice, once in them morning and one at tea time. Consider installing a combi boiler, they heat the water as and when required and are much more energy friendly. Save water by sharing baths or showering, fitting a hot water tank insulation jacket will save you around £40 per year and only boil the water you need in your kettle.
#6. Fixing leaks
Did you know that a dripping hot water tap wastes enough heated water to fill half a bath in just one week? Make sure all taps are working properly and you will drastically reduce both your water consumption and your electricity bills. Try also to get the whole family to ensure that the taps are fully turned off after use.
#7. Change your lightbulbs
Soon, all traditional lightbulbs will be replaced by energy-saving ones and you can get some really good deals on them at present. They last up to 10 times longer and can save you around £55 over the lifetime of the bulb. If you are replacing a high-wattage incandescent bulb however, you could save around £120 over its lifetime.
#8. Fill her up
Did you know that one full load uses less energy than two half loads? If possible, fill up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher rather than running them for half loads. It really is worth waiting until you can fill the appliance before starting the cycle.
#9. Power to the Sun
You can buy some amazing solar-powered fairy lights that will look wonderful in your garden and save you a pretty packet in energy bills. If you are having trouble sourcing them then you can buy them here on the MoneySupermarket Shopping Channel for £24.99.
#10. Home or Away? Stay safe
If you plan to head off to sunnier climes this Christmas then make sure your house is weather proofed. Insurers receive thousands of claims for burst pipes, which can easily cause up to £10,000 of damage, every winter. Keeping the central heating on while you are away seems to go against everything we have advised but the cost of a broken pipe and flood damage are far more expensive than having your heating on low. Keep the central heating at a constant minimum of between 12 and 15 degrees Celsius, insulate the more exposed pipes, leave the loft hatch door open to allow warmer air to reach the cold tank and turn off the water supply to outside taps.