How making small changes can help reduce your energy bills

Right now, it feels like prices are always on the rise – from rocketing energy costs to petrol price hikes to soaring supermarket bills – so can we do anything to reduce energy usage and help keep day-to-day energy bills in check?

A quick search of the internet reveals a bewildering array of articles and the advice ranges from small, easy-to-implement, no-cost changes to your daily life to bigger savings which require an investment (sometimes sizeable) to see the benefit.

With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where to start – and for many of us spending money to save money just isn’t an option – so in this article we’ve done the research for you and put together a list of simple little changes we can all make which when added up could cut hundreds off our annual energy bills.

1. Turn your thermostat down

Did you know the optimum temperature for a room is between 18-21°C? If you’ve got your thermostat set higher, try turning it down just one degree to save around £78 a year according to MoneySavingExpert.

2. Give your boiler a break by lowering the flow

If you have a combi-boiler, lower your flow temperature (look for the radiator and tap icons on your boiler) to 50°C for heating and 55°C for hot water – your home will feel just as warm, but you’ll be using about 8% less electricity and saving money as well. In fact, according to Octopus Energy you could save more than £100 over a year! 

Important note: If you have a boiler and a hot water cylinder, you can still adjust the settings, but don’t go below 60°C (this is to prevent bacteria). 

3. Give your hot water cylinder a winter coat!

If you’ve not switched to a combi-boiler, according to the Energy Saving Trust, you can save yourself around £35 a year by insulating your cylinder to help keep the heat in.

4. Bleed your radiators

Check your radiators when you turn your central heating back on this winter. If you find any cold spots, bleed radiators to get them working efficiently – it’ll reduce the amount of energy they use, get them heating more effectively and save you money!

5. Put a lid on it!

Lids trap the heat, which means food cooks quicker and uses less energy – 30% less according to the BBC. And if you’re cooking with water, the Energy Saving Trust  advices that you should boil the water in the kettle first for further savings.

6. Stop filling the kettle

Don’t boil a full kettle if all you need is enough water to make a cuppa! According to the Energy Saving Trust, this could be adding an extra £6 a year to your bills.

Plus, if you live in a hard water area, descale your kettle regularly to save even more – limescale-covered kettles take more energy to boil.

7. Use Eco settings on your dishwasher and washing machine

These settings do the same job, but heating the water more gradually uses less energy, saving you money! And if you can cut your dishwasher use by one run per week, it’ll save a further £14 over a year according to the Energy Saving Trust.

8. Do full laundry loads

It’s more energy efficient to do fewer (but fuller) loads so consider waiting an extra day or two – switching to 4 larger loads a week, rather than 5 smaller daily washes will save around £7 a year but you’ll also be saving on water and washing detergent too according to Which?

9. Wash cooler/cold

Which?  tested a range of washing machines and found that reducing the wash temperature from 40°C to 30°C saved electricity and it didn’t affect the end result, unless the clothes were particularly dirty! So switch to washing at 30°C to save up to £13 per year.

10. Hang your washing outside or on a clothes horse to dry

This won’t work all year round in the UK, but by doing it when you can, you’ll be saving electricity – just don’t hang your washing on your radiators or you’ll need your central heating on longer to heat your rooms as well as dry your clothes. Drying washing loads using a tumble dryer will set you back about £60 according to the Energy Saving Trust, but it costs nothing to hang it out to dry.

11. Swap one bath a week to a shower

Switching just one bath a week with a four-minute shower could save you £12 a year on energy bills according to the Energy Saving Trust.

12. Shorten shower times by one minute

MoneySavingExpert claims that just one minute less in the shower each day could save you even more – up to £115 a year on energy and a further £105 on your water bill if you have a water meter.

13. Unplug chargers and switch off plug sockets

Don’t leave gadgets charging unnecessarily or appliances on standby. Once fully charged, get into the habit of unplugging and switch off unused appliances – it could save you about £55 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust.

14. Embrace the dark!

The Energy Saving Trust claim that turning off lights when you leave the room (or not leaving hall lights on at night) could save up to £20 a year.

15. Close curtains at night

Sounds obvious, but closing curtains will help keep your house warmer, meaning you won’t use quite as much energy heating rooms in winter.

16. Heat the human not the house (as recommended by Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis)

Try thinking about how to keep yourself warm rather than the whole house, you’ll be able to save even more on energy. For example, if it’s just you at home during the day, rather than using your central heating, why not use an electric blanket to sit on? At just 3p per hour, it’s a lot cheaper than central heating and should keep you toasty warm too! For more tips like this, visit moneysavingexpert.com.

Small changes can lead to big savings!

If you were able to make all the changes listed above, you could make significant savings on your energy bills.

Published: August 2022