Nine free ways to save money on energy costs this winter
While the idea of winter may still seem like a long way off, it won't take long for the cold season to be well and truly upon us.
You’ve got to pay for the energy you use; there really isn’t a way round that I’m afraid. However, take a look at these ideas that might help to shave some money off your winter energy bill!
Bleed your radiators
From time to time radiators get air trapped inside them which doesn't make them work as efficiently as they could. The hot water doesn't circulate properly, giving cold spots, meaning your room won’t get heated properly. To help rectify the problem, you can bleed your radiators yourself and have your whole heating system back up to scratch in no time.
A small draft may be harmless but it's what will make your room feel that much colder. Plus, if a draft is getting in, it also means it’s letting the heat out that you’re paying for. Good places to check are at the bottom of doors or even your letterbox. If you can feel a draft then try to cover gaps and you’ll feel warmer almost straight away. You can use your curtains to block drafts from windows but you can go one step further and block drafts from everywhere else too.
I am actually quite shocked at the amount of people that don't switch their energy supplier regularly. It’s no hassle, takes about 10 minutes of your time and can save you hundreds of pounds a year!
We had a letter the other day about our supply as we signed up to a fixed tariff which ends next month. They are going to change us over to the cheapest variable rate. Great, I thought, until you read the small print. This will see our bill go up by nearly £180 a year. If we moved with the same supplier to a fixed deal, we would go up by only £20 a year. Or, we could switch to a new supplier and save even more.
Read your meters
Every single month read your meters and submit the details to your energy provider. This way you will be paying for exactly what you’re using and not a figure that they estimate. Paying an estimated bill may mean you'll either be paying far too much (which you can get a refund for) or be underpaying, meaning they’ll chase you to pay more. It only takes a few minutes to get it right and pay the correct amount.
Smart energy meters are being fitted in all households by 2020, and many people have one already. This little meter will give real time information about your energy use and sends it straight to your supplier, so no more energy readings. At the same time, you can use it to work out which appliances are costing you more.
Fill your freezer
As well as making sure you defrost your freezer regularly, so it runs effectively, also look to keep it filled up. Having an empty freezer means it has to actually work harder and will therefore use more energy. While it’d be lovely to have a freezer full of food all the time it's not always possible to keep it fully stocked. If you can’t keep it full of food, then fill it with tubs of water (which will turn into ice) - your freezer will then use less energy as it doesn't have to work as much.
Turn it down (or even off)
When it comes to washing your clothes most detergents and even machines nowadays can handle washing well at 30 degrees. There is no need to do every wash really hot as it just uses more energy and costs you more money. After you’ve done your washing, try not to use your tumble dryer too. While cold winter weather makes it hard to dry everything outside, try to use some days to dry your loads.
Also, switch off everything at the plug. There is no need to leave the microwave, kettle, TV, phone charger, or pretty much any other electrical item turned on when it’s not in use. It’s just using energy and wasting your money for no reason. So switch it off and save straight away.
Use your cooker to its full advantage
If you’re using your cooker for a meal in the evening, first try to cook as many different things at the same time, rather than just using one shelf. For instance, if you’re baking meat consider roasting your carrots on a spare shelf, instead of using the hob and more energy. Also, when you’re done with cooking don't shut the door and walk off! Keep the cooker door open and use the heat to warm your home for free.
Grab a blanket and a jumper. While it may sound obvious, an extra layer can really help fight off the cold. Walking around in slippers can make things nice and snug for your feet too and stop any coldness that comes up through the floorboards (even if you have carpet fitted). Use a blanket on your bed too as an extra layer will keep you warmer through the night.
These are just a few tips to help keep you warmer for less this winter. I’m sure you have lots of other ideas so please share them in the comments.