Wholesale energy prices are soaring globally, meaning that everybody's energy bill will be going up this winter. Aside from reevaluating your budget or seeking some extra help, one of the best things you can do to save money is cut back on your energy usage.
These small steps will lead to some big wins on your energy bill - great for your bank balance, and great for the environment too.
If you follow these steps, you could save about £229 a year. We've included a breakdown of costs at the bottom.
Only boil the water you need
Only boil the amount of water that you are going to use by measuring it out. This will save you about about £6 a year. Don't forget to descale your kettle every once in a while so that it works more efficiently.
Fill your fridge and keep it dust-free
A full fridge means less air, and less air means less energy needed to cool it down. Plus, the chilled food items help to keep the temperature down. This could save about £4 a year.
Dusting behind the fridge every once in a while also helps it to work more efficiently.
Make washing the dishes energy-efficient
There isn't much evidence that washing the dishes by hand uses any less energy and water than using a dishwasher. However, there's plenty you can do to maximise the energy efficiency, whichever way you choose to do the dishes.
If you're using a dishwasher, wait until it's full before putting in on. Washing half a load will only waste half the energy and water. Don't use the pre-wash setting (just scrape food into the bin) and use the eco-setting if it has one.
If you're washing by hand then wash your dishes in a bowl rather than under a running tap and use a secondary bowl for rinsing. Using bowls prevents you from wasting hot water and energy. If your dishes are particularly dirty, pre-soak them in warm water first.
Make use of your microwave
By choosing your microwave over the oven or hob, you'll spend less time cooking and so will use less energy. If you're looking for a crispy skin on something like potatoes, you can start them in the microwave and finish them in the oven so as to cut cooking time and still achieve the same results.
Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipes
This will keep your water hotter for longer and reduce energy costs. You can fit the insulation yourself - simply measure out the sizes you'll need and visit a DIY store. An insulating jacket can cost as little as £15 and save about £18 a year in energy, as well as 110kg of carbon dioxide emissions - a no-brainer!
Take speedier showers
Replace long baths with short showers to save water and energy. Spending just one minute less in the shower each day could save you about £10 on your energy bill and about £17 on your water bill each year.
Fitting an energy-efficient shower head could save another £30 on your water bill and £17 on your energy.
Turn off the taps
Don't leave the tap running while you brush your teeth or wash your face - just rinse instead.
Turn down the thermostat
This is one of the easiest ways to make a big difference. Turning your thermostat down by just one degree will knock about £55 off your energy bill, plus prevent around 300kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Savings on your laundry
Lowering the temperature of your wash can shave off about £8 from your bill each year. Most detergents work just as effectively at 30° as they do at higher temperatures, and using a warmer wash won't necessarily equal cleaner clothes (it might even damage them, cause colours to run or make them shrink).
Only put a wash on when there's a full load. If you share your home, combine everybody's washing together to make this easier. This will pocket you another £8, as well as £6 on your water bills.
Letting your clothes dry naturally won't cost you a penny, so hang them outside or use a clothes horse. Choosing a natural drying method over a tumble dryer will knock off about £35 from your energy bill each year.
Being mindful of the way you do your laundry is also a great thing you can do for the environment - the temperature of your wash makes up to 60% of your laundry's CO2 footprint. If everyone in the UK washed colder, we could save up to 750,000 tonnes of CO2 per year (the equivalent of taking up to half a million cars off the road).
Switch it off
Get in the habit of only turning the lights on when you're using them and save around £11 a year.
Switch appliances off at the plug when you're not using them rather than using standby mode. Common energy-guzzlers are TVs, games consoles, phone chargers, stereos and computers. The Energy Savings Trust estimates that you could be paying around £35 a year for devices you're not even using.
Choose energy-efficient appliances
LED light bulbs use 90% less energy than traditional bulbs and they’ll last longer.
If you're buying new appliances, make sure to go for the models with high energy efficiency grades - an A+++ rated model will be the most energy-efficient and the cheapest to run. Changing a C-rated fridge freezer to an A+++ rated one can save £113 a year. Buying new things like a fridge freezer will of course be expensive, though you'll start seeing savings within five years.
Some simple ways for getting the most bang for your buck include moving furniture away from radiators to prevent them from soaking up the heat, putting tin foil behind your radiators to push heat back into the room, and bleeding your radiators to remove airlocks.
Closing curtains and doors in the rooms you aren't using will reduce draughts and help keep your home cosy. Draught-proofing your home can save you around £25 a year on energy.
Install a smart meter
With energy, knowledge is power. A smart meter tells you exactly how much energy you're using in your home, allowing you to figure out which energy-greedy devices are using the most power. Having the real-time data of how much money and energy you're using provides a great incentive to cut back.
Smart meters also send the information to your supplier, meaning that your bills are more accurate and you won't have to take meter readings.
Energy suppliers install smart meters in your home for free - just contact them to arrange a fitting.
£6 - only boiling what you need in the kettle
£4 - keeping a full fridge
£15 - insulating your hot water cylinder and pipes
£10 - spending a minute less in the shower
£17 - fitting an energy-efficient shower head
£55 - turning your thermostat down by one degree
£8 - lowering the temperature of your wash
£8 - only putting a wash on when it’s full
£35 - letting your clothes dry naturally
£11 - turning the lights off
£35 - not leaving appliances on standby
£25 - draught-proofing the house
Spending money on things like energy-efficient appliances will help you save even more (like the extra £113 from an A+++ fridge freezer) though we've left these out from the total so as to focus purely on small changes you can make immediately for a low cost.
If you are really struggling with your energy bill, there is help out there. We've written a post here detailing the various grants and schemes you might be able to access.