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The rising costs
of energy billsThe average UK household energy bill has risen by 140 per cent over the past eight years from £522 a year in 2004 to £1,252 in 2012, according to uSwitch. That's five times faster than UK household income, which has increased by just 20 per cent from £32,812 in 2004 to £39,468 in 2012.
When bills are rising faster than our wages, it might seem utter madness to propose spending any more money on household appliances. But doing so could more than pay for itself by reducing your energy bills in future years.
Replacing your appliancesIf you have decided it's time to change your home appliances, investing in energy-efficient models could help cut your household bills.On average, replacing a 12-year-old appliance with a new Energy Saving Trust Recommended machine will save you around £40 in energy bills each year for a fridge freezer, £15 for a washing machine, £21 for a tumble dryer and £7 for a dishwasher.Of course it's free to dry clothes on a washing line, but if you decide to buy a tumble dryer, choose one that has a sensor that tells you when your clothes are dry. This prevents the dryer running when it doesn't need to.
Similarly, replacing the average desktop and monitor with an Energy Saving Trust Recommended laptop could save you around £47 a year. And if every LCD TV sold in the next year were an Energy Saving Trust Recommended model, consumers would save a total of £80 million in energy bills as well as 270,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent to taking 95,000 cars off UK roads annually.A laptop costs £4 a year to run. Laptops typically cost 85 per cent less electricity over a year than desktop PCs.Unplugging devices is the best way to save energy, but if you tend to forget, use energy-saving plugs / sockets. They come with timers or a single off switch to reduce standby power.
energy-guzzler?Aside from working out what you can afford to spend, the main thing to check out is an appliance's running costs. According to consumer group Which? it's often the case that a more expensive, more energy-efficient model works out cheaper to own in the long run than a cheaper energy guzzler.
It gives the example of the Indesit BAN12NF fridge freezer, which costs £250 to buy and £53 a year to run. Over the product's lifetime – put at seven years – it costs £621 to own. However, the Hotpoint RF175M fridge freezer at £300 to buy and £18 a year to run, would set you back £426 over the seven years. That's £195 less than the Indesit model. Of course, specific models and prices can change at any time, so be sure to do your own research if you are looking at buying appliances.Which?'s online calculators can help you find the right appliance for your needs, so you needn't worry about doing any complicated sums before you hit the shops. To get access to this information, you can currently sign up for a one-month trial of Which?'s services for £1.
However, keeping an eye out for products that have an Energy Saving Trust Recommended label will also steer you in the right direction for free. So whatever appliance you decide to buy, ensuring you buy an energy-efficient model will help you cut your future bills.
It's worth remembering too that where there are claims on a household contents policy, some insurers, including M&S Bank, will replace old appliances with new ‘A' rated energy-efficient models.M&S Home Insurance is provided by AXA Insurance UK plc.
Quirky energy-saving ideas
WashitThis contraption washes your clothes while using the water from your shower. The design comes in two forms: one for showers in public places and one for use at home! The designers say Washit will cut down the 150 litres of water used for a 15-minute shower and the 38 litres used in a typical wash cycle.
TioDesigned to help children learn about saving energy, Tio is a light switch that gets ‘angry' if you forget to turn it off. It will stay green if the lights are left on for less than an hour and turn yellow if they are left on for more than four hours – after eight hours, it goes red.
Zen Garden SinkThis clever invention uses the water you use to wash your hands to water a plant – and it manages to get rid of the soap too.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author,
and do not necessarily reflect the views of M&S Bank.