How to fix your “bad energy habits” and reduce your energy bills this winter

With temperatures plummeting and energy costs still significantly higher than they were at this time last winter, one of the first steps to reduce costs may be identifying any potential bad habits that may seem insignificant but could actually be adding considerable amounts to your final bill at the end of the year. 

Stephen Hankinson, Managing Director at Electric Radiators Direct has identified five of the most common bad energy habits that people tend to overlook. He has provided advice on how to fix them to make some consistent savings. 

1.       Setting the thermostat too high 

One of the hardest things about winter is the cold mornings, and many of us tend to set the thermostat a little higher to avoid the discomfort of getting out of a warm bed and into a cold room. But the cost of doing this can really add up quickly if you’re not careful. 

According to research, lowering your central heating thermostat setting by 1 degree, from 19 to 18, could lead to a 1,530 kWh saving per household per year. At current prices this could be a saving of around £140 on your energy bill. 

If you want to go a step further to accurately understand your energy consumption, then precision thermostats can help you calculate the required heat output in each room of your house. You can set each room to your desired temperature and every time your digital thermostat notices that heat levels have changed above or below your set point, it will automatically adapt, allowing you to minimise temperature changes and drastically reduce your energy costs. 

2.       Forgetting to turn the heating off 

We’ve all been guilty of this before. We rush out of the house and forget to turn the heating off. This is of course to be expected every once in a while, but if it starts becoming a habit it can really start adding to your bill.  Aside from remembering to switch off the heating when you leave (potentially setting an alarm could help), smart solutions such as smart thermostats can come in handy too.  

Smart thermostats connect your heating system to the internet, allowing you to change the temperature or switch your heating off on your smartphone or other device when you’re out and about.  

These can help you save money as you can remotely switch off your heating if you forget, and switch your heating on and off to suit you. This is especially handy if you are at home at different times throughout the week, and a standard heating program may not suit your lifestyle. 

Although the up-front cost of one of these – which typically range from £135 to £200 – may seem high at first, according to The Eco Experts, these types of smart devices could potentially save you between 14% and 31% in energy costs.  

This means that for the current average household, you could knock about £560 off your bill in a year. Factoring in the upfront cost, you may start seeing some savings after around four months, so you may want to consider the investment for the long-term benefit if you can. 

Another potential solution to this problem is smart electric radiators, which come with built-in smart features and have app compatibility that allows you to pair your radiator with your phone and manage your heating system wherever you are. 

3.       Washing clothes at high temperatures  

Many are aware of that our washing machines and other electrical appliances can use quite a bit of energy. But did you know that if you start washing your clothes at 40 degrees or lower (rather than 60 or 90), you may be able to save about 70 kWh per year, or about £23 a year on your bills? While this may not seem like a substantial savings, every little counts right now. 

Many washing machine models now include eco settings that can help with this, and it won’t be hard to find detergents or powders that work just as effectively at these lower temperatures. 

4.       Using outdated appliances 

Linked to the point above, keeping hold of old washing machines or other appliances that are not as energy efficient as modern alternatives may end up costing you significantly in the long run. For instance, running an outdated refrigerator might cost you up to 1,000 kWh per year, which, based on current prices, equates to up to £340. 

Updating old appliances for newer models, where feasible, could mean a considerable saving in the long run. The most energy-efficient devices on the market, such as washing machines and refrigerator freezers, are those with an appliance rating of A+++.  

You should also be able to check the total number of kWh needed to run each appliance for an entire year on the label when you’re shopping around, which can help you calculate the total costs to run it and choose the best option for you. 

5.       Leaving electronics plugged in or on standby  

Even though these are unlikely to consume as much energy as your heating system, the cost can still add up if usually leave devices on standby.  

Keep an eye out for this, because it has been reported that turning off “vampire devices” might result in annual savings of up to £147 on your electricity bill. 

Some of the worst offenders are TVs and set-up boxes (From Virgin or Sky, for example). Combined, these can add a total of around £47 to your annual energy bill, according to British Gas. 

Other devices you should take care to switch off at the wall include: 

·       Microwave: around £16 

·       Electric shower: around £10 

·       Washing machine: around £5 

·       Printer: around £4 

·       Phone charger: around £1