Lowering bills, cutting carbon
12 May 2020
If you’re currently working from home more than usual, you may have noticed your energy use going up. All that time you might normally spend at work is time you’re not using energy at home. We may not think about it, but our employers cover the cost of the energy needed to keep us comfortable while we’re at work – from keeping warm to powering our laptops or boiling the kettle. Now we’re at home, those costs are pushing up our bills. Various estimates suggest that household bills typically increase by about 30%, or £28 a month when working from home, so we’re sharing some tips to help you reduce your energy usage.
Turn down the thermostat
Warm and sunny weather in the UK recently has meant that turning on the heating has been an afterthought for most of us. But with temperatures dropping this week, it’s important to be conscious of your thermostat’s setting. Avoid being overly-generous on the dial and you could save yourself more than you might think. It varies considerably by household, but as a rule of thumb, for every degree you turn your thermostat down you’ll save about £50 over the year.
It’s worth keeping an eye on the weather forecast, too, as we’re often slow in responding to warmer temperatures by turning the heating off or down.
Turn off radiators in rooms that aren’t being used
Ordinarily, most of us can leave our central heating off during the workday or use a thermostat to ensure that the house is warm when we get back. But now that we’re having to keep our homes comfortable all through the day, that could have a serious impact on our bank balance.
So, if you need to warm up (and a jumper won’t suffice!), try and keep the heating to only the rooms you need. If you have thermostatic valves installed on your radiators, then you can set them to zero if you’re not using that room. If not, then you could invest in an electric heater which you can keep in the room you’re working from.
Fill your freezer up
We’re not suggesting that you should start stockpiling, but having a freezer full of food will help you save on your electricity bills. The frozen items will help to maintain the temperature of each drawer and avoid warm air filling up the spaces each time the door is opened. So turn your freezer-packing into a game of Tetris and save some money at the same time. It’s a win-win.
Wash your clothes less frequently
Providing you’re not in contact with people outside your household*, most people can get away with washing their clothes less frequently than they think – and it can be better for the clothes, too. Wearing an item for an extra day could add up over time. If you can cut out one wash per week, you’ll save around £10 on your annual energy bill (not to mention all that time saved hanging up washing).
Set your fridge & freezer to a higher temperature
Generally speaking, we tend to keep our fridges and freezers at a colder temperature than necessary and this uses up additional energy. In the current warmer weather, our appliances are having to work even harder to maintain a super chilled environment and this will impact our bills. So we suggest sticking to the guidelines provided by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which are as follows:
Here’s an added bit of advice: when you defrost food, always leave it in the fridge, which will then have to work less hard to maintain the set temperature.
Use microwaves to reheat food
Think how much time you’ll be saving now you don’t have to wait in line for the microwave in the office kitchen. But when reheating food during your stay-at-home lunch breaks, it’s still best to use a microwave rather than the oven. Microwaves heat food much quicker and so are more energy-efficient, which will save you some pennies. According to research from consumerenergycenter.org, using an electric oven to cook a potato can cost five times as much as a microwave.
Only boil as much water as you need
Britain is powered by cups of tea and this isn’t going to change now we’re at home – although without your colleagues around, you may end up doing more tea and coffee rounds than you’re used to! All we’d suggest is to remember that if you’re not making brews for the whole team, you don’t need to boil enough water for them either.
According to an article published by the Guardian, the humble kettle is responsible for around 6% of UK households’ energy usage, which is staggering. They estimate that UK households could save an average of £19 on their energy bills by only filling the kettle with the necessary amount of water. Be conscious of the amount of water that’s in the kettle as it could end up costing you a small fortune.
Don’t leave your computer on standby
You might be surprised at the amount of energy that your electrical appliances use even when they’re in standby mode. ‘Phantom load’ is the term given to the power drawn by items when they’re not in use and according to Greenmatch, the average UK household could save up to £100 a year if they were to switch off appliances when not in use.
There are some bits of kit that need continual power, such as fridges, but by ensuring computers, TVs and set-top boxes are unplugged when not in use, you could shave off some of your electricity bills.
Check your Energy Performance Certificate
You might not be aware, but all domestic properties in the UK available to buy or rent are required by law to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPCs tell you how energy-efficient that building is and therefore how costly it will be to run through heating and lighting, as well as the estimated carbon emissions.
Each certificate provides an efficiency rating on a scale of A (very efficient) to G (very inefficient), but also offers recommendations for improvements that could be made to the rating. So it’s worth checking your EPC for these suggestions, or if you’re a homeowner, then getting an energy performance survey could help to identify new ways to slash your bills and reduce your carbon footprint.
Switch energy provider
Last of all, don’t forget that reducing your energy use isn’t the only way to help the planet and reduce your bills. We’re currently seeing some of the lowest energy prices in a long time, so now’s a great time to move to a new tariff.
Why not make a quick and easy switch to cheap renewable energy? Homes save £230 a year on average by switching to renewable energy through us, so click here to get started.
* If you are working with people outside your household, the UK government recommends washing your clothes regularly to help reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.