Ha! I’m getting the video bug now. Last week I popped up on ITV Tonight, sharing practical tips on how to save money on your energy bills.
Every year at around this time, I read the same old tips in print and online. Shop around for deals. Tug on an extra jumper. Put the heating on less. Unplug everything. Only boil as much water as you need in your kettle yadda yadda yadda. So if you have been there and done that, here are a few more ideas for you:
1. Invest in a slow cooker. As I have written on this blog time and time again, I love slow cookers. I love chucking in cheap ingredients before I leave for work in the morning, then coming back to a hot, cooked meal in the evening. But there is another reason to use slow cookers: stick the same meal in the oven to cook, and you will use three times as much electricity.
2. LED light bulbs are your friends. They use less electricity than halogen bulbs, but in my experience the light given out by LED bulbs isn’t quite so dull and dingy as that produced by your regulation low-energy light bulbs. LED light bulbs used to be expensive, but in the last couple of years the prices have tumbled and lots more retailers are now stocking them. At IKEA, for example, the LED light bulb range starts at £3. A 35-watt halogen replacement LED light bulb could use as little as 4 watts – and save you a fair bit of cash over the course of the year.
3. Stick tin foil behind your radiators. You may have come across this tip before. It stops the walls absorbing heat from the radiators, and reflects heat back into the room instead. This tip does sound a little bonkers, so you may have put it on a par with recycling teabags or using gravy browning in place of tights. But do you know what? It takes seconds to do, and it works well. Visitors won’t spot it and it won’t mar your interior decor vision. think about it: the foil is behind the radiator, not sticking out where people can see it!
For the same reason, don’t worry too much about what you use to tack it to the wall behind the radiator: nobody will see. This is how I do it: I tear sheets from a roll of tin foil, attach a couple of curls of masking tape to the back of each sheet, then feed it behind the radiator and push the taped areas against the wall with my fingertips so that they stick. It takes seconds. Idiots can do it. In fact, if you don’t do it you’re an idiot, for paying the energy companies to heat your walls.
Sidenote: you can buy special foil stuff to bung behind your radiators, including fancy magnetic foil sheets to cling to the backs of your radiators for £20 a pop. These products are unnecessary, and relatively expensive. Bog standard tin foil does the job just fine. Buy a 15-metre roll of value range foil and, for less than £1, you can kit out every radiator in your house.
4. Dishwashers are hogs. They hog water. They hog electricity. Opt for a manual dishwasher – i.e. you, or your personal Cinderella. If you must use a dishwasher, make sure it is full before you turn it on to get maximum cleanliness for minimum energy.
5. “Step down” your thermostats. Back when the credit crunch kicked in, there was plenty of talk around “stepping down” brands on your supermarket shop. The idea was that you could save money without really noticing, by buying the standard range tins if you usually bought premium range tins, or buying value range tins if you were usually a standard range guy or gal.
This idea isn’t just for food: you can apply it to your boiler too. Get moving those dials! Take our house: we have a thermostat on the wall, installed by a nice man from British Gas, to regulate the room temperature when the heating is on. This runs from 10 degrees centigrade to 30 degrees centigrade.
Just move the dial (or each digital display, if your setup is fancier than ours) back a step. How low can you go? I’ll tell you what: I crunked that thermostat on the wall back from a heady 23 degrees centrigrade, to a more modest 21. (In truth, a room temperature of 18-21 degrees centigrade should be more than sufficient for most of us.) According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you turn down the heating in rooms by just 1 degree centigrade, you can save £55 on your annual energy bill. What an easy win!