Recent data released by the Office for National Statistics showed that 60 per cent of assessed homes in the UK have low energy efficiency ratings which can be a major contributing factor when it comes to fuel bills.
Ofgem, the energy regulator, has now increased the energy price cap to 54% which means an estimated households across the country will pay an extra £693 this year on their fuel bills and worryingly, could see them go up by another 40 per cent in October, according to consumer champion Martin Lewis.
To help those living in older properties combat soaring bills, green energy experts at GEUK (Green Energy UK) have shared some all-year-round tips on how to be more efficient and reduce costs without making any major changes to your home.
GEUK said: “The main focus areas for us on energy efficiency is around how we individually manage our behaviours. We should consider how we use energy to reduce the amount we are consuming.
“By making simple changes to how and when we use our energy, we can help our bills as well as make energy usage more efficient.”
Here are some quick tips you can do straight away.
In cold weather
1. Draw the curtains
One of the simplest and probably most old-fashioned ways of reducing your energy consumption and keeping your home warm is to draw your curtains or blinds. These can keep the cold from coming in and keep the heat from escaping out.
2. Insulate the smaller gaps
You’ll remember this when you feel that icy draft coming in through your letterbox in the mornings. Insulating those small gaps whether it’s that letterbox, or the cat flap can help keep your house warm and cosy. Using rubber or brush draft excluders or insulating tape can be quite an easy fix.
3. Put your heating and hot water on timers
One of the most common myths about hot water is that it needs to be left on all day, but this can cost a small fortune.
Equally, leaving your heating on all day when you are out at work doesn’t make sense either. Most central heating and hot water systems come with programmable timers, and you can now buy smartphone apps to control your heating when you are away from home.
Set your timers for when you need the heating and hot water to come on, allowing time for the house to warm up and cool down.
Set your water to heat up only when you need it. If your hot water cylinder or tank is well insulated, you may even find that the hot water supply in the morning stays hot enough to use in the evenings.
4. Adjust your temperature
With the typical UK weather fluctuating during the winter, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the temperature of your heating and adjust it according to the weather.
With household heating and hot water accounting for more than 50 per cent of a customer’s energy bill, it makes sense to economise where you can. For example, by turning down your room thermostat by just one degree, you’ll cut as much as 10 per cent off your heating bill, saving around £90 a year.
5.Switch off to save
Turn the heaters or radiators off in the rooms you are not using. If the thermostats are on full in these rooms you will be wasting energy. If the rooms are not in use, either turn them down or turn them off.
6. Clear your heaters
Move large objects away from radiators. These can stop heat circulating around the room, and what’s the point of heating up your sofa when it’s you that needs to stay warm!
Doug Stewart at Green Energy UK said: “I accept that some people might say ‘I’m stating the bleedin’ obvious, but many of us talk the talk but don’t follow through. Little things like this make a difference – reduce waste, reduce your consumption, and reduce your energy bills, what’s not to like?
7. Switch off your stand by button
TVs, set-top boxes, DVDs, mobile phone chargers, games consoles, stereos and PCs use small amounts of electricity when they are plugged in but not switched on. While the standby energy consumed is small, the overall energy consumption does add up.
Switch off the stand-by, reduce your energy consumption and save between £50 and £80 a year.
In warmer weather
8. Make most of the sunshine
Rather than using a tumble dryer, dry your clothes on the washing line, the old-fashioned way. If you stopped using a tumble dryer altogether, you would save around £70 a year.
9. Manage your fridge
According to the Energy Savings Trust, a fridge costs as much as 7 per cent of your energy bill, around £60 per year.
Fridges run much more efficiently when they aren’t empty, so if it’s more than 50 per cent empty, fill some of the space with jugs of water. But don’t overfill, as the fridge does need some space and air for it to run at an optimum level.
And check the fridge temperature – refrigerators and freezers set just a few degrees lower can cut down on energy use by as much as 25 per cent. The ideal temperature for a fridge is between 3 and 5 degrees. Freezers should be set at -18 degrees.
10. Use a timer on your lights
Many holidaymakers decide to leave the lights on while they are away to scare off intruders. A better way that will reduce your energy use, is to buy a timer switch. These plugs straight into the wall cost as little as £5 and many allow you to program in several time slots. At the same time, use energy-saving lightbulbs that save up to 20 per cent on lighting costs
You can find more green energy-saving tips on the GEUK website here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.