Do you watch your energy bills creeping up?
It feels really rotten doesn’t it?
I know. I’ve watched our energy bills go up and down, as the weight of an erratic dieter, for many year now. Not to mention the energy saga of our sons who have a prepayment meter, which means that during winter their energy costs are pretty much astronomical; and it is not like they are warm and toasty in their little rented house.
And do you know the part I find even more frustrating than the escalating bills?
Every time we sort it out – you know, start putting lights out and change a supplier – we find ourselves in an even worse situation couple of years down the line.
Since I’ve decided to forego regrets and focus on what I’ve learned instead, this tells me two things.
One, to keep energy bills reasonable we need to get into the habit of shopping for better deals regularly; I mean like every 12-18 months.
And two, we need to clean up our energy act regularly to be able to save on energy.
This time, I decided to use the ERR strategy to look at our energy situation and to create a ‘Clean up Your Energy Act’ checklist for you.
Just to remind you that the ERR strategy for money management is about three things:
- Eliminate (waste);
- Replace (change the way in which you do things); and
- Reduce (consumption).
Here is what actions you ought to take, I believe, under each of these to keep your energy bills under control.
Eliminate: 7 easy ways to eliminate waste and save on energy in your home
Here are seven easy and straight forward ways to eliminate waste and save on energy in your home.
Some of these you can implement immediately, others may need to wait; some are cheap to put in action, others not so much.
All are very much worth doing: by eliminating waste of energy you can save hundreds per year. And it feels so great!
#1. Pull the plug. Okay; how many of your electrical appliances are left on standby? My guess will be ‘many’. And this is waste of energy you really don’t need – most appliances will be perfectly fine if you pull the plug (watch for some TVs and recording devices because these may lose their memory if plugged off). Word on the street is that, depending on how many devices you us, you can save between £35 and £50 per year by simply un-plugging. Doesn’t sound much but this is: one week of food, couple of pairs of trousers, a pair of shoes or a nice little chip off your debt (or contribution to your ISA). So, think again.
#2. Put out lights. My Dad used to drive me mad when I was little by sending me back to put out the lights. I thought he is un-necessary stingy. Now I do the same (except when I forget the lights on which annoys John terribly). Leaving lights on when there is no one who needs light is a waste of the worst kind. So, put the lights off; and teach your kids to do it as well.
#3. Get yourself some draught excluders. I know, I know. These look very silly and you can trip in them. They help keep the heat in, though. Which is kind of important during the winter – after all, why would you willingly choose to heat the universe; and pay for it. While you are at it, you may wish to get some heavy curtains as well.
#4. Carpet is better than wood. This is the bane of our marriage: I like wooden floors and John wants to stick with carpets. There is a mixture of flooring in our house but I’ll have to say that carpets do keep the house warmer.
#5. Get some more insulation. I’ve come to believe that insulations is a bit like shoes: one can never have enough of it. We have cavity wall insulation (needs renewing), loft insulation…all kinds of insulation. It makes a very big difference and it not only keeps the heat in: in summer it keeps it out better as well.
#6. Double glazing. Yes, it is true: in the 21st century, some houses in the UK still don’t have double glazing. When it comes to eliminating waste and saving on energy, this is essential.
#7. Check for drips. Sounds trivial, I know. But dripping water can really lead to very large waste of both water and energy (to heat and move it around the house). And it is annoying!
Replace: 7 easy changes to save on energy
You can save on energy a lot by eliminating waste; you can save even more – and more sustainably – if you change the way you do things when it comes to energy use.
Here are seven changes that can lead to large energy saving gains:
#1. Change your light bulbs. Yes, get yourself some energy saving bulbs. They don’t come cheap but they also pay for themselves from savings within several months. This doesn’t mean that you should start leaving the lights on but it won’t be so bad if you occasionally forget them on.
#2. Buy new appliances. New white goods are generally much more energy efficient that the ones made 5-10 years ago. The interesting question is, what you do if a very old appliance that sucks energy like a thirsty man on a bottle of cold beer is still working. In such cases, I do the maths: how long would it take for the more energy efficient and new appliance to pay for itself? This helps decide what to do.
#3. Get/use a dishwasher. It is only natural to believe that washing by hand is more energy efficient than using a dishwasher. As most natural beliefs, this is wrong. A full dishwasher load uses 4 gallons of hot water per cycle (and this washes eight full place settings). An average faucet flows at 2 gallons per minute. This means that you can hand wash more economically than a dishwasher if you can wash eight place setting in two minutes. You see?
#4. Change your energy supplier. We’ve been doing this one with some regularity over the last five years or so. It certainly pays off to be an energy shopper – getting cheaper energy complements nicely the other actions you can take to save on energy. Even only moving from a variable tariff to fixed one can save you up to £250 per year. According to goenergyshopping.co.uk – Ofgem’s (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) official website – there are three steps to efficient energy shopping. First, you have to take stock of your energy bills; then you have to shop around; and lastly, you have to take control and act on your research. There are Ofgem approved comparison sites you can use to compare energy suppliers and tariffs.
#5. Install solar panels. Installing solar panels is an important change when you wish to save on energy. This is something that needs an initial investment, though. If you’d like to know more based on our experience with installing solar panels you can read it here. What I want to mention is that out solar panel generate annually over £700 worth of electricity (about 12% ROI) in ‘sunny’ Manchester.
#6. Change your heating controls. We’ll need to do this one – our heating controls are so ancient that we often find the heating on when it shouldn’t be. Sometimes, I’m freezing because the heating has not come on. Now there are advanced heating control systems that allow you to time your heating precisely, heat different parts of the house at different times, etc. Certainly worth a second thought.
#7. Change your shower head. I always suspected that our drench shower is more efficient than the movable head. It turns out I’m right. Look into changing your shower head with a water saving one – this way, you can have a decent shower and save on water and the energy to heat it.
Reduce your energy consumption
You will reduce your energy consumption substantially by implementing all the ways to eliminate waste and change your energy use.
Further, you can think whether you are over-consuming.
Are you keeping your house too warm? This sound ridiculous, I know, but there are people who’ll have their thermostat on high and the windows opened because they are too hot. You don’t have to walk around your house in a t-shirt in the winter, you know; just put a jumper on.
Are you heating a whole kettle of water when you need only a cup?
Are you heating the parts of your house that you don’t use?
It seems to me this is a great check list to save on energy and keep our energy bill under control. Are you curious which ones I’m not really good at?
Here they are:
- I keep my appliances on standby.
- I forget (occasionally) the lights on.
- I need to look for a new energy supplier.
- I need to change the heating controls.
How do you manage to keep your energy bills under control? Which of the points in this post you have implemented and which you intend to implement?
Editor’s note: This post is sponsored but was entirely researched and written by me; and it is meant to help you keep your energy bills in check.