Do you know what keeps us awake at night here at Look After My Bills? Your energy bill.
Yes, you, sitting right there, reading this. We worry that your energy bill is too high. That’s why we make it our mission to track down the best tariffs, just like Indiana Jones hunting for some priceless relic with mysterious powers (but with less emphasis on cracking a whip and racing through jungles, and more on very clever algorithms).
We’ll let you into a secret, however – even the best tariff in the world is no use if you use too much gas and electricity. That’s why you need energy saving tips like the kind we’ve gathered together here.
Of course, your Dad will probably tell you that the only energy saving tip you need is to put another jumper on and stop being such a wimp: “Call this cold? When I grew up we had ice on the inside of the windows” (followed by a 20-minute lecture about turning the lights off when you leave a room).
But does your Dad know how much electricity appliances use (if your dad’s a qualified electrician or someone who designs fridge freezers then you can ignore this question)? More to the point, do you know how to save money on energy bills? And can you separate the myths from the facts?
Energy saving myth 1
Leaving your heating on low all day will save you money in the long run.
It sort of makes sense doesn’t it? Keep your rooms slightly warm and you’ll be less likely to pump up the temperature when it gets colder outside. Except that, according to the experts at the Energy Saving Trust, it’s not true. The chief problem is that even in the best insulated home some of the heat you’re paying for is escaping through the walls, windows and roof. The longer you have the heating on, the more money you’re spending keeping those pigeons that sit next to your chimney nice and snug.
Energy saving myth 2
Only turn the boiler on for hot water when you really need it.
Most of the time, this myth is actually true. If your boiler is heated by gas, oil or Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), then you should only heat water as and when you plan to use it. If, on the other hand, you have an electrical immersion heater and you’re on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff then you should heat your water up during the off-peak hours, provided your hot water tank has enough insulation to keep the water hot through the rest of the day.
Am I on Economy 7 or Economy 10?
The easiest way to find out if you’re on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff is to ask your electricity provider.
I’m not sure who my electricity provider is…
You might think you’re asking a silly question, like ‘How does unplugging appliances save money?’ but when it comes to home energy there are no silly questions, only great tips. The rise of competition and multiple providers has also led to the rise of confusion and people sticking with what they know. If you’re really not sure who provides your electricity, you can quickly check at the Energy Networks Association, and all the info you need is your postcode.
Energy saving myth 3
Turning appliances off stops them using energy
This one’s got to be true, hasn’t it? If you’ve ever been tempted to ask ‘Do appliances use energy when off?’ you probably stopped yourself because if sounded so silly when you said it to yourself in your head. The fact is, however, that turning appliances off isn’t always enough to stop them using energy.
March of the Energy Vampires
‘Energy Vampires’ sounds like a horror film about a group of very fit bloodsuckers, or the name of an emo group from the early 2000s. What it refers to is the fact that a lot of devices, when you switch them off, go into standby mode. Although they’re using less energy than when switched on, they’re still using energy and you’re still paying for it.
The same often applies to chargers which are plugged in but not attached to devices. Touch the plug to see if it feels warm. If it does, it’s using energy and that heat might as well be burned five pound notes.
So, does unplugging a washer and dryer save money? Yes it does, because there’s ‘off’ and there’s ‘off off’, and an appliance that’s been unplugged is well and truly ‘off off’.
Energy saving myth 4
Turning lights on and off uses more energy than just leaving them on all the time
It’s true that there’s a small surge of power when you first turn a light bulb on, but that’s nothing compared to the power used by never turning it off. And no, it won’t make your bulbs last any longer either.
Energy saving myth 5
Most of the heat from your house escapes out of the windows
No it doesn’t.
That’s because most of it escapes through the roof.
Wrong again. According to the National Energy Foundation, more than half the heat that escapes from the average home gets out through walls that haven’t been insulated. Installing cavity wall insulation can do more than anything else to stop heat escaping from your home, although it’s been estimated that 25% of the heat that escapes from houses sneaks out via non insulated lofts.
Draught proofing doors and windows will also make a big difference and 10% of the heat you’re paying for will be escaping through badly sealed floors. If you’re wondering how much dealing with all this is going to cost then it’s worth looking into the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), a government scheme run by Ofgem which involves energy suppliers installing energy efficiency measures free of charge for home owners in receipt of certain benefits.
From fitting tin foil behind your radiators to only boiling the water you need in every kettle, there are numerous small steps you can take which, when you add them together, will help to save energy at home.
And of course, if you want to pay as little as possible for that energy, the best tip of all is to try Look After My Bills and let us switch you to a better tariff available.