Save almost £700 a year on home appliances with these 10 lifestyle tips

Published by Tony Whittingham on 09 August 2017.
Last updated on 09 August 2017

Save almost £700 a year on home appliances with these ten lifestyle tips

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.

4. Kettle


 

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).

5. Cooker


 

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.

7. Microwave


 

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).

9. Computers


 

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.

10. Televisions


 

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).

Total savings:

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. 

Leave a comment

Most of the comments I was

Most of the comments I was aware of to some degree and I have gone over to LED on as much as possible. I do, however, have a couple of questions. 1. I cannot cook with gas in my current home and now use an induction hob. How does that come out for energy use? Re. microwaves - I really get fed up with people dissing them. Just look how efficient they are and why would I dirty a pan doing my morning porridge. 2. Have had big discussions re. shower pulls. If you forget to pull the cord to switch off after a shower and the light remains on does that mean that the heating element remains on for all that time or is it just the led light?

- the only problem being that

- the only problem being that if you only have ordinary 4 minute showers, are careful with the fridge, kettle, cooker and microwave and t!urn lights and appliances off - then there is relatively little scope for more savings

We put your questions to Tony

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:

http://www.ecofrenzy.com/microwave-oven.html

2. We have not investigated shower pulls yet, but will have a look and see what we can find.

1. Re: shower pulls, no, when

1. Re: shower pulls, no, when there is no water flowing, the power to your electric shower heater is off. If it was still on with no water flowing, it would melt and catch fire very quickly indeed!! The neon light itself uses so little energy it is.hard to measure - almost nothing.

2. Regarding what you say about electric fires - this seems wrong to me.

For a start The size of the room is less significant than the heat loss from the room,.nBut the key thing about resistive electric heaters (as opposed to heat pumps) is that they are 100% efficient at converting electrical energy into heat.

So a 1600 watt heater will over four hours produce 6.4kwh of heat. And a 1200w heater will produce only 4.8 kwh of heat. So to say that the smaller heater will cost less "for the same effect" is just wrong. It costs less only if it produces less heat.

If on the other hand the heaters are thermostatic, and you use them to heat the room to the same temperature, assuming that the thermostats work effectively then they will both use exactly the same amount of electricity, because the bigger heater will be on for less of the time to produce the same amount of heat.

To put it another way, the room will need the same amount of heat to keep it at the same temperature, whatever the heater size, and the same amount of heat uses the same amount of electricity and costs the same.

Same as Helen as I already do

Same as Helen as I already do most of these. However, you do not need to cover eggs with water to boil them. Use 1/4 " and they cook in the steam. 80 degrees is best for coffee and fruit teas. I bought a kettle with 70,80,90 and 100 deg. cut off.

I'd really like to know how

I'd really like to know how my energy bill could be reduced, however, when it comes to understanding my use it seems impossible. The figures showing are just baffling, telling me I have used 24 KW's of electricity means absolutely nothing. Just tell me what I have used and How

Further to my earlier comment

Further to my earlier comment, I also question your statements about tumble dryers.
First, it is not zero cost to dry clothes on an indoor drying rack during the winter months. The dryng process uses up heat (google "Latent heat of vaporisation").So either you will need your heating on more, or your house will be colder. But the water vapour also has to go somewhere. So You either ventilate your damp room and lose heat, or you have a damp house which can be a serious health risk, or you spend money and use energy by running a dehumidifier. In some circumstances, using a dehumdifier to dry your clothes *might* seem like a cheaper option, but remember that running a 600 watt dehumidifier for four hours uses pretty much the same as using a 2.5kw tumble dryer at full pelt for one hour.
You quote a cost for a 2.5kw tumble dryer running for one hour. This I trust to be a correct average cost for 2.5kwh of electricity. Of course, there are many different tarrifs and prices per unit of electricity, so the costs you quote throughout your piece will be significantly different for people depending on what they pay for their electricity, and the easiest way for many people to save money would be to change tarrif or electricity supplier.
But, leaving that aside, the time and power needed to produce the same drying results varies a very great deal between different types of tumble dryer. There are a number of different types but for example a heat pump tumble dryer will use a LOT less electricity for the same drying result.
So to talk in this very broad brush way about tumble dryers without mentioning this variation in dryer efficiency is rather misleading.
Also, there is a typo in your piece about ovens. You say that "If you are cooking a stew in a 2kWh oven", but you mean a 2kw oven. Kwh is a measure of energy used over time - Killowatt Hours - and the number of Kwh an oven uses is determined by the power of the elements (You use the example of 2kw) AND by how long it's on for. So a 2kw oven would USE 2kwh if it was on for one hour.
On LED bulbs, they are great, but the really cheap ones from Amazon can in my experience have only a short life, and buying these can be a false economy compared with buying good quality ones.
All in all, it is great to encourage folk towards greater energy efficiency but in doing so, you might help more if you provided more accurate information. Some simplification of a complex subject may be OK, but where this is done, in my view this should at least be identified and made clear that other people's experiences may differ.

I agree with Geoff about

I agree with Geoff about Tumble dryers. We have a condenser Tumble Dryer. Typically it gets used when it is cold and damp. With no outside venting where does the heat go ? Heating up the house .
A shame than 4 out of 6 of the expensive (£8 each) LED bulbs I bought about 3 years ago have now failed. During the summer LED bulbs are indeed a good economy. During the winter the lack of heat from them means your other heating will have to work that bit harder. As a child we had Belling Bed Warmers which were not much more than a light bulb in a flying saucer shaped tin.

Economy 7 electricity supply

Economy 7 electricity supply is not considered eg night storage heaters and hot water heating with night unit costs can result in significant savings albeit with some offset due to the attendant increase in day unit cost. It pays to look at the night and day annual power usage and then work out the total cost using night and day unit costs from suppliers. These vary significantly. Furthermore, if Economy 7 is chosen I can recommend a digitally controlled shower with pressurised hot water tank. thus using water heated at night unit costs with constant temperature control

Good point regarding E7. Not

Good point regarding E7. Not only can it save money, but what most people don't seem to know is that is is much more environmentally friendly too. Peak demand is provided by the least clean and least efficient power stations, because they are quicker to fire up when needed.
Remember though with e7 that you need to use enough night rate electricity to offset the extra cost of the daytime rate, which is usually higher than non e7 tariffs.