With all the chatter and advertising about changing energy suppliers and obtaining better tariffs, there is hardly a soul in this nation who has not heard that they should change to a better deal.
Even though it should only take a few minutes of your time, many believe this is still too much hassle.
But there are other ways to save too, with just a few small changes to your everyday lifestyle. Plus, these also have an environmental benefit because you are reducing your carbon dioxide (CO₂) imprint.
1. Power shower
Many of us love the feeling of hot water lashing our bodies but that’s not quite so pleasant when you look at how much money is flowing down the plughole. An average daily power shower usually lasts eight minutes and costs about 60p. Just think, if you reduced your time under the shower to four minutes, you will save around £110 per person/year (≡ 245kg of CO₂). For a family of four, that’s a massive saving of £440 per year.
You can also save 30% more by using a water efficient shower head. These combine air and water to give the same feeling but reduce water usage.
2. Tumble dryer
We know it’s tempting, but tumble dryers are one of life’s luxuries, and unless it is raining or too cold, the best option is to dry your clothes on an outside line or indoor drying rack.
A 2.5kw tumble dryer running for one-hour costs about 35p (150 times = £53 per year), so we say ditch the tumble dryer and save £53 per year (≡ 176kg of CO₂).
3. LED lighting
This one costs a little to set up but the financial benefits can be huge. Lighting accounts for around 15% of the energy bill in most homes. Changing to more efficient light bulbs is a very simple way to reduce these bills.
In an average home, if you upgraded five x 50W halogen spotlights to five x 3.5W LEDs you could save £29 in the first year, considering the cost of buying the bulbs (≡ 130kg CO₂), £39 the second year and so on. The LEDs also last more than 10x longer than halogen bulbs, making you more savings.
A typical GU10 LED costs around £2 from Amazon.
We have calculated changing out 5 ordinary Halogen GU10s to LEDs, that means a £10 cost for bulbs and a reduction in savings in year 1, therefore £29.00 saving not £39.00
LEDs last 20,000 to 40,000 hours, halogens just 2,000 to 4,000 hours, so over the following 10 years the saving is £39 per year.
An electric kettle uses a surprising amount of energy. By using a few simple money saving techniques, you can soon reduce your energy bills.
Boil just enough water and you can start saving money. Boiling 1l of water costs around 1.8p, boiling one cup (385ml) of water costs around 0.7p. Based on five x one cup boils per day – the savings would be around £20 per year (≡ 69kg of CO₂).
An electric cooker can be a big drain on energy, but luckily there are several techniques to reduce your usage.
Changing the way you cook is a simple example. If you are cooking a stew in a 2kWh oven for one hour it costs around 28p. However, cooking the same stew in a slow cooker for eight hours will only cost around 10p.
Using a slow cooker twice a week, you could save £19 per year (≡ 64kg of CO₂).
You can also cut energy usage by 10% using a lid on pans, and cut wasted energy by up to 40% by using a pan size greater than the cooker ring size.
6. Fridge / freezer
Fridges and freezers save us a small fortune on preserving food and drink, but maintaining the optimum temperature also helps save on energy bills.
The optimum temperature in a freezer is approximately -18C. However, if you set your freezer at -25C you can increase the electricity used by 10%. Reduce this to -18C and save £9 per year (≡ 30kg of CO₂).
For a fridge, the optimum temperature is 4C, if you have it much colder you are putting your money on ice.
Microwave ovens can make a big difference to your cooking costs but it depends on what you cook. They are cost effective (compared to ovens and hobs) when heating meals, baking potatoes or even making fudge!
In a microwave, a typical 500g frozen meal costs just 2p to heat up. Compare that to a typical oven, which will cost 23p. Heat two frozen meals a week in the microwave and save about £22 per year (≡ 74kg of CO₂).
8. Portable heaters
Many houses still need some secondary heating to keep rooms nice and cosy. But make sure you pick the correct-sized heater for the room.
If you heat a room of 14m² with a heater of 1,600W it will cost about 89p for four hours. However, if you heat the same with a heater of 1,200W it will cost around 67p for four hours for the same effect.
That could save you £20 over three winter months (≡ 67kg of CO₂).
In 2014, 52% of homes in the UK had a tablet, but despite the growing popularity of tablets, laptops are still the UK’s most popular type of computer, appearing in over 80% of homes.
Compared to many other appliances in your home, computers are not as expensive as you may think. However, a family of four could be running multiple units and then the bills ramp up.
Here, we show you a comparison of energy used and the cost to run three of the most common computer types at home:
- A desktop PC used for four hours per day costs about £24 per year (≡ 79kg of CO₂).
- A laptop used for four hours per day costs around £7 per year (≡ 24kg of CO₂).
- A tablet used four hours per day costs just £1 per year (≡ 3kg of CO₂).
So by swapping a desktop for a tablet you can save £23 per year (≡ 76kg of CO₂), and by swapping a laptop for a tablet you can save £6 per year (≡ 21kg of CO₂).
Of course, mobile phones are taking over for internet access and they use even less energy than tablets, a huge plus.
We should also be aware that our increasing obsession to be online, for internet access, for data transfer and data storage means a whole new industry of data centres has built up in recent years. These now account for 3% of greenhouse gases worldwide and this is increasing by 10% year on year.
As we become more sedentary, sitting for longer in front of our TVs, we would expect an increase in energy consumption. However, manufacturers have made big advances to help reduce energy requirements.
A 42” Plasma TV watched for four hours a day costs up to £60 per year (≡ 205kg of CO₂), whereas a 42” LED TV may only cost £10 per year (≡ 34kg of CO₂) saving up to £50 per year
(≡ 171kg of CO₂).
If you made all our suggested changes, for a family of four you’d save about £686 per year and the equivalent to 1.84 tonnes of CO₂. That’s a lot of money for such minor changes to your lifestyle.
Tony Whittingham is director of EcoFrenzy.com, a non-commercial and not-for-profit organisation that helps you save money and the environment in everyday life by minimising waste, pollution and carbon dioxide output.
We put your questions to Tony Whittingham at Ecofrenzy. He replies:
1. An induction hob can be up to 90% efficient. This type of hob transfers electromagnetic energy directly to the pan, leaving the cook-top itself relatively cool and using less than half the energy of standard coil elements. They also stop using energy when a pan is removed. This adds up to considerable savings.
Please note however - With induction cooking, you’ll need to use iron-based pans, such as stainless steel, cast iron, or enamelled iron -- aluminium and glass pots won't work!
We at Ecofrenzy are great fans of microwave ovens. Depending on the type of food you cook in them, you can save lots of money and just as importantly time.
We have a section on our web-site which may help you to explain the benefits of microwave ovens to your friends – see:
2. We have not investigated shower pulls yet, but will have a look and see what we can find.