10 quick wins to save energy

Author: 28/11/2016

Saving energy and being energy-efficient aren’t just about going ‘green’, they’re also a great way to lower your energy bills, allowing you to have a bit of extra money each month. These quick wins are designed to be just that - quick and easy hints and tips that don’t require any financial investment and take minimal time.

1. Switch off or unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on. Appliances which have a stand-by light, or are hot to touch when they’re plugged in, are using energy just by being plugged in. So, next time you leave the house in the morning, take your TV’s plug out of the wall and make sure that every switch that isn’t 100% necessary is turned off.

2. Stop charging your phone when the battery’s full. Fully-charged laptops and mobile phones still drain electricity, which can add up to £60 a year on your annual bills. Not only that, but constantly charging appliances can damage the battery and increase your chances of an electrical fire. Stopping charging your phone overnight can therefore make a big difference.

3. Hang up you laundry. On warm or windy days (although let’s be honest, we normally get more windy than warm) hang your clothes outside rather than tumble drying them or hanging them inside.

If you have to use the radiator, try to avoid putting the clothes directly on the radiator as it will have to work harder to provide the same level of heating. If you must use a tumble dryer, take your shirts and formal clothes out before they’re completely dry; they’ll be much easier to iron and you’ll use less energy on drying.

4. Empty your vacuum cleaner. Although vacuuming isn’t everyone’s favourite chore, you can make yours more energy-efficient by emptying the dust collector after every use. A full container means the vacuum has to work harder, therefore using more energy to do the same job. Constantly having a full hoover also makes it more likely to break down, which can lead to having to buy a costly replacement.

5. Fill your kettle with the correct amount of water, and only boil it once. If you’re guilty of filling the kettle to the brim then boiling it and reboiling it multiple times before you finally make your morning cuppa, stop! Although your kettle is an essential kitchen appliance, it is also one of the biggest users of energy so a bit of prior planning means you can drink your tea with the knowledge that you’ve saved both energy and money.

6. If you can see red, change the ring. When cooking pasta or boiling your veg, make sure you’re using the right pan and the correct hob ring. On your electric hob, if you can see red, or if there are visible flames around the pan on your gas cooker, you need to change to a smaller ring to avoid wasting heat.

Equally, the opposite is true, if you’re cooking for 20, use a large pan on the largest ring to maximise your heating efficiency and minimise your cooking time. It’s also a good idea to use a lid. It stops heat escaping, which usually means you can use less energy, and stops lots of steam escaping into your kitchen potentially causing condensation.

7. If you wash up by hand, use the bowl. Keeping the hot tap running when washing up uses unnecessary water and energy, so plug up your drain or use a bowl and give your hands a wash at the same time.

8. Keep your fridge and freezer three quarters full. Stocking your fridge and freezer with your favourite snacks will not only please the kids, a fully (but not over!) stocked chiller is more efficient and therefore requires less energy to keep your food cool. To fill up your fridge on the cheap, fill the gaps with bottles of water. Also, let hot food cool before you put it in the fridge and cover moist food so the fridge doesn't waste energy evaporating the moisture.

9. Think ahead about your heating. Taking time to plan when your heating comes on and goes off can make you more aware of how much energy you’re using. Also, making sure it comes on about 30 minutes before you wake up, and goes off 30 minutes before you go to bed, can make sure you’re not wasting any heat and energy when your duvet is doing the job.

10. Make it a family affair. Play energy-saving games with your kids. Get them trained in spotting where energy is being wasted and lights, switches and appliances have been left on. As an added bonus, this could take them away from their consoles, saving you money because they're switched off!

This blog is one of a series to support our Keeping Kids Cosy project. Working across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, Keeping Kids Cosy provides targeted outreach to families with young children. It builds upon our established Affordable Warmth Network and offers small grants for energy efficiency measures and insulation installations. In addition to financial assistance, the project aims to educate families about energy efficiency and inform and advise on ways to save energy and lower energy bills.