How to save energy for free12th May 2014
It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Nothing in this world comes for free, so we are commonly told.
However, we'd beg to disagree. Follow some of our simple steps to cut down on your energy usage without spending a penny, thereby reducing your bills, giving you more money to spend on the things you really want to every month.
Switch things off
It sounds simple, but pause for a moment and consider how many different appliances there are in your house that need to be switched off – and how frequently do you do this?
A key one is lights – they contribute as much as seven per cent of your bill. Start getting into the mindset of turning them off every time you leave a room. The only exception to this is if you know you're going to be back within a few minutes. Consider getting stickers or even putting up post-it notes to remind yourself – or your less energy-conscious partner or housemates – to get into this habit. Before you know it, it'll become second-nature and you'll wonder why you never did it before.
When you've finished using other electrical appliances, don't be lazy and leave them plugged in. It is thought keeping appliances on overnight could account for as much as ten per cent of your bill, so don't throw money away like this. These include the television, your mobile phone charger and the microwave.
In addition, it could be a safety hazard to leave certain devices on overnight, such as the tumble dryer or the microwave. Get into the practice of turning things off at the plug once you've finished using them and/or before you go to bed each night. While it may seem a little cumbersome at first, it will soon become part of your daily routine and it's a small price to pay for cheaper bills.
If you've got children, consider making it a competition in some way to see who can be the most energy-efficient. This will add an element of fun to the process, meaning your kids will be more likely to get involved. Don't forget to have some kind of incentive or prize for the winner, to really up the ante. Something like this doesn't have to cost you any money, such as a day free from chores.
This could also be effective in the workplace as a way to reduce energy output and bolster relationships between colleagues as they attempt to be the most eco-friendly.
Heat your food, not your bills
There's a plethora of different ways to lower how much energy you use in the kitchen, without meaning you completely stop using all your appliances.
One of the biggest energy-sappers is your oven, so be strategic as to when you use it. A little bit of organisation and forward-planning can go a long way to slashing your monthly outgoings.
Prepare ahead as to what you're going to eat during the week. Not only does this help to save on how much time you spend at the shops, but it will also enable you to be more energy-efficient. This is because it's better to cook in big batches so you're making the most of having the oven hot, which is what uses all the energy. Just cook a different dish on a different shelf simultaneously. This method will also help to give you more free time during the week to relax and socialise, instead of wondering what you'll have for dinner and then have to make it each night.
When you're hungry, it's particularly appealing to open the oven door in the hope your food is ready. This is a bad move for two reasons. Firstly, it lets the heat out, meaning it takes longer for your oven to get back to the right temperature, increasing the time you've got to wait until you can eat.
A much more energy-efficient appliance for cooking is the microwave, so it makes perfect sense to use this to reheat the food you prepared in advance.
When you need to buy a new product of some kind – whether it's a light bulb or a fridge – make sure you buy the most energy-efficient one on offer. Check the eco-friendly sticker on appliances and consider buying LED lights, as these choices mean a lower bill at the end of the month.
Similarly, make the effort to use price comparison websites to ensure you're on the best tariff for your energy usage. It might seem like a bore, but you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. If it transpires there's no better deal out there for your household, you can at least have the peace of mind that you are paying the lowest possible amount for your energy each month, even if it's more than you'd like it to be!
Make the most of the sun
While we Brits can sometimes forget what sunshine actually is, it's worth capitalising on any precious rays we do get.
Dry your clothes outside whenever possible to avoid using your tumble dryer. If the weather is unfavourable, use airers and enjoy the scent of freshly-washed garments radiate around your house.
When it's a hot day, open the curtains to let the sun heat your house. Similarly, when it sets, close them to keep the remaining heat indoors.
Espousing some of these helpful ideas could lead to you having more money to spend on what you really want, as opposed to a heightened bill.