The Mythbuster’s Guide to Saving Money on Energy Bills

Miss Thrifty0 September 5, 2018

halogen light bulb - save money on energy bills

If you have been here a long time, you might remember when I went on ITV Tonight to dispense a masterclass in saving money on energy bills.

Energy-saving is one of my favourite money topics, because once you get past the boring bullet-point lists, a whole new world of thrifty nerdery opens up.

You know those bullet-point lists. You start spotting them everything at this time of year. They go like this:


How to Save Money on Energy Bills: Beginner Level

  • Don an extra jumper.
  • Insulate your loft.
  • Have a shower, not a bath.
  • Only boil as much water as you need in your kettle.
  • Put off turning on your central heating for as long as you can.
  • Turn the light off when you leave a room.
  • Unplug all your devices at the wall, because standby mode costs money.

Pah! This is beginner level energy-saving. You can push it much further than that – but how far are you prepared to go?


How to Save Money on Energy Bills: Advanced Level

At this point, in the interests of disclosure, I should point out that my husband has been known to stage interventions, because I can get carried away.

He is happy for me to tack aluminium foil behind the radiators, to reflect heat back into the room instead of into the walls.

My entire family is appreciative of the hearty winter soups and stews I make in my trusty slow cooker, which uses a third of the electricity of the oven.

They don’t even mind when I play the game of ‘How Low Can You Go?’ with the thermostat (probably because they don’t notice; I’m good at that game.)

But my husband drew the line the other year when I wanted to stick bubble wrap on the windows, for extra insulation.

What? You think that’s going too far?

In my defence, it wasn’t all our windows: just a couple of the small, single-glazed ones on the side of the house. We haven’t yet replaced them, since moving into this doer-upper – and up here in the North West, it gets cold and draughty in the winter months.


How to Save Money on Energy Bills: Busting the Myths

What I didn’t know, until npower approached me to collaborate on their latest research project, was that a third of people in the UK “can’t be bothered” to make the effort to lower their bills.

What? What is this madness? I thought everybody did it these days. I accept that tin foil behind the radiator isn’t for everyone, but still… It takes only five minutes to bob onto a comparison site and find the cheapest supplier. It only takes a second to lower the dial on your thermostat by one degree, saving you up to £75 per year. Who wouldn’t do that?

As you can probably tell, the energy company’s research piqued my interest. For example, did you know 43% of the 2,000 people surveyed believe that energy-saving lightbulbs have little to zero impact on bills? Come on, people! The clue is in the name.

That said, it turns out some of the basic energy-saving advice, listed above, may not be up to scratch after all. For example, four in five of us believe showers use less water than baths. However if you have a power shower, as so many people do these days, this might not be true after all. Apparently a power shower can use up to 50 litres more than baths. A water-efficient shower head could save a household up to £195 per year.

Here are nine more energy-saving myths, busted.

  1. The Thermostat. Almost half of bill-payers think it’s cheaper to have the heating on low all the time, but having a room thermostat to adjust the temperature can save you up to £150 per year.
  2. The Smart Meter. More than half of Brits believe Smart meters use electricity and will add to their bill, but you can save up to £21 by accurately monitoring your energy.
  3. The Lightbulbs. Two fifths of us believe energy saving lightbulbs will have little to no impact on our bill despite research revealing savings of up to £35 per year.
  4. The Thermostat Again. One in five Brits believe setting the heating to a slightly warmer temperature won’t make a difference to their bill, yet bill-payers could save up to £75 per year by reducing the temperature by just one degree.
  5. The Kettle. Almost a fifth of us believe boiling more water than necessary doesn’t use more energy, a myth which could be costing you up to £36 a year.
  6. The Computer. 41% of Brits think charging a laptop uses the same amount of energy as a desktop, but you could save up to £17 a year by ditching this clunkier tech.
  7. The Standby Mode. One in five Brits don’t think appliances use electricity when in standby mode, a myth which could be costing you up to £30 a year.
  8. The Shower. A fifth of the nation don’t think a long shower adds a significant amount more to their water bill, but just one minute less in the shower could save you up to £80.
  9. The Washing-Up. One in five of us think a running tap uses less water than a bowl when washing up, but you could save up to £25 on your water bill by investing in a washing up bowl.

Apparently a quarter of us have been given rubbish energy-saving tips or energy-saving advice that doesn’t add up. Are any of the busted-myths above new ones on you?

Something I like is that many of the ideas are quick wins. I do have an old desktop computer kicking around, albeit turned off at the wall. But the only idea I haven’t taken up is the Smart Meter: I read my own meters, and I’m waiting for the next generation of meters (which don’t lose functionality when you switch suppliers) to become more widely available.

As ever, I’m going to see if I can hold out until 1 October before banging the heating on. Who’s with me?


This post was written in collaboration with npower, who have contributed towards this site’s web costs for 2018.


Image credit: Marco Verch; Creative Commons 2.0 licence.

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