These days, everyone is looking for ways to reduce their energy consumption. This has as much to do with saving money as to do with saving the planet. However, we are creatures of comfort and the less comfort we have to give up (and the less effort we have to make) while we’re on our energy saving mission the better.
Here are nine dead simple tips to help you effortlessly shave pounds off your monthly electricity bills, while earning kudos as an eco-warrior.
Switch off your boiler for 23 hours of the day.
A family of four can quite easily live off their boiler for one hour a day. It provides more than enough water for four hot showers of reasonable duration. A single person or couple living together can cut that time down to 30 minutes a day. Play around with it. Perhaps your family of four needs 90 minutes, rather than an hour. The point is that the boiler is off for far longer than it is on.
Insulate your boiler and hot water pipes.
You’d be surprised how much heat is lost when pipes and boilers are exposed to the elements, even when those elements are indoors. A boiler blanket will save you a lot of money by keeping heat where it should be – in the water.
Use a halogen or convection oven.
Halogen ovens, which are becoming increasingly popular, offer two major advantages over conventional ovens: they cut cooking time by as much as 50% and they use about 50% less energy. You can cook anything in a halogen oven, including bread, roasts, veggies, etc., and they’re portable and don’t take up much space.
Don’t put hot food in your fridge or freezer.
Keep leftovers out of the fridge until they have cooled completely. Otherwise your fridge has to work overtime to cool the food and keep the ambient temperature steady.
Do your laundry in cold water.
The quality of modern washing machines and washing powders means that you gain nothing by doing your laundry in hot water. In fact, it costs you a packet to leave your machine on its default hot water setting. All you have to do to save money here is push the temperature button a couple of times and you’re good to go.
Unplug your appliances when not in use.
Did you know that appliances that are off account for 75% of power consumption in US households? Essentially, you’re paying a lot of money to not use appliances. Which.co.uk actually puts a price on that amount – £86 per year. Granted, many brand new appliances have energy efficiency built into their core, so they’re unlikely to consume quite as much as the 75% of US homes in 2009, but it all adds up.
Ok, this one takes a little bit of energy initially, because you have to do the rounds looking for leaky windows, doors, vents and cracks and things (or you could hire someone to do the checking for you). Once you’ve found the leaks, you then have to seal them. This could be as simple as buying a draught stopper or excluder and tightening a few hinges or require as much effort as using sealant to stop the gaps around windows, doors and chimneys.
Keep windows and doors closed when using central heating and air conditioning.
Limit the space you need to cool or heat and you can keep the settings of your system relatively mild. If you’re going to insist on heating or cooling upstairs and downstairs and the garden and neighbour’s patio (because your windows are wide open), the settings will need to be more extreme, which uses more energy, which costs you money.
Maintain your heating and air conditioning systems.
Ensure that the vents and filters are always clean and open and that no part of the system is taking strain. Even a little hiccup in some innocuous part can make the system work harder than necessary, so keep it in tip-top shape.
It’s easy to save money – and the planet. All you have to do cultivate some new habits like remembering to switch your boiler off and on and unplugging the toaster and kettle when not in use.