Tackling our energy bills – one small change at a time

Today’s guest blog comes from Cllr Nicola Beech, Cabinet with responsibility for Climate, Ecology, Waste and Energy

With the ongoing national energy crisis, many residents are rightly concerned about rising costs for household bills, so I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to share some low-cost tips on saving energy around your home.

It’s surprising how much you can achieve by making a few easy adjustments to your home and daily habits. There are a range of changes that we can all make which will not only save money, but also reduce your carbon emissions.

Try these ideas to get started:

Turn off the lights: Do it whenever you leave the room and fit energy efficient LED bulbs. LEDs use much less energy and replacing all bulbs in your home with these could save about £40 a year on your electricity bills.

Unplug your chargers: Leaving your phone, tablet or laptop charger plugged in when you’re not using it drains money from your pocket.

Switch off your TV: Leaving your TV on standby means it’s still using energy. Energy experts have calculated that UK households waste an average of £30 a year powering appliances they’re not even using.

Move your sofa: Furniture pressed up against a radiator stops heat reaching the room. Move things an inch or two away and better air circulation will have your room getting warm and cosy much faster rather than simply warming up the back of your sofa.

Close the curtains: When the sun goes down, heat starts to escape. Drawing the curtains or closing the blinds will help to keep the warmth in. Especially if you have draughty, old-fashioned sash windows.

Fit foil panels: It’s surprisingly easy to add reflector panels behind your radiators to bounce more of the infra-red heat rays back into your room – so less warmth gets lost through the wall.

Saving energy in the kitchen

Your kitchen is where you use a lot of energy as you cook, wash up, make tea and put left overs into the fridge or freezer. Here are some tips for smart savings:

Boil water in the kettle for cooking: It’s quicker and uses less energy than heating up a full pan on the stove – so you’ll have dinner on the table sooner.

Cook with a moderate flame: If you have a gas cooker, you just need it to be big enough to heat the base of the pan. If it’s licking up the sides, you’re wasting gas and money.

Keep your oven closed: Opening the door when food’s cooking lets heat out and uses more energy. It slows down cooking too – so use the window to see how your food is doing.

Switch your oven off early: Most dishes will keep cooking a little longer while the oven temperature slowly cools, thanks to the thermal insulation in your oven which is designed to stop heat escaping.

Defrost your fridge and freezer: We all know we should do it regularly to keep ice under control. That way everything stays efficient. But it’s still easy to put it off.

Upgrade your old fridge-freezer: This tip’s more expensive upfront. But an A+++ rated model can save around £190 in energy over its lifetime compared to an A+

Saving money doing the laundry

If you have a big family, it probably seems like the washing machine is on all the time. So here are some tips to cut your energy use, and shrink your bills:

  • Always put a full load in the machine, and try to do the week’s laundry in one go
  • Use the economy setting on your washing machine to save water and energy
  • Dry your laundry outside when you can instead of using an energy-hungry tumble dryer
  • Don’t dry clothes on radiators. It makes your boiler work harder
  • Keep your tumble dryer’s fluff filter clean so heat can flow freely inside the drum
  • Put eco-balls in your tumble dryer to spread your clothes so they dry more quickly

How to save energy in your bathroom

Changing your bathroom routine could cut your energy consumption and save you money and water at the same time. Try these simple ideas:

  • Change your showerhead. A low-flow design still gives you a satisfying shower and uses much less hot water too
  • Shorten your shower time. A long shower – especially a power shower – can use enough hot water to fill a bath
  • Unplug your toothbrush charger. Most electric toothbrushes only need one charge a week so remember to unplug your charger when it’s not in use
  • Get an extractor with a timer. Running your bathroom fan for more than 20 minutes wastes energy and money

As well as these low-cost tips that you can try yourself, the council may be able to support you with more costly home improvements such as solar panels, insulation and new heating systems.

We have worked with thousands of households across the city and you may be eligible for free funding. For more information on the specific home improvements that we can offer, visit our Energy Saving Measures page.