Since the pandemic, both Mr H and I have worked from home so our energy usage has increased over the last couple of years. We’ve had to power our laptops and monitors and of course, the kettle has been put through its paces too. However, with energy prices going up significantly from April 2022 I’ve been looking at ways to reduce our usage.
We switched over to a Smart Meter around a year ago so we have a monitor that will show us just how much gas and electricity we are using on a daily basis. Before I started trying to reduce our usage, we were using on average around £5/6 a day on both gas and electric. Since putting in these new measures below we have now got this down to around £4 a day – saving of £1-2 a day which is £30-£60 a month! Obviously, these figures will change now that the price increase has hit but I am pleased that by just making small changes we’ve been able to reduce our usage.
Here are the things we changed to reduce energy usage at home
Turn thermostats down, only heat the rooms you need
When the boys are at school, we don’t need to heat the upstairs of our house so we turn the thermostats in all the rooms upstairs to 0, heating just the downstairs to keep us warm. We also lower the thermostats as they don’t all need to be blasted on full power.
Install Smart heating, turn the temperature down a few degrees
We had Hive installed last year when we upgraded our boiler to a more energy-efficient combi. Having it has meant we can easily schedule the heating to only come on when it dips below a certain temperature. Equally, it will know how long it takes to get the house to a set temperature and will switch off when that temperature has been reached.
Make use of the heat from the oven
Open the oven door after cooking to allow the heat to warm up the kitchen and surrounding rooms.
Don’t wash up using a running tap
I am SO guilty of doing this when washing up but I have now switched to only washing up with a sink full of water.
Only use hot water when necessary
For a quick wash of hands, we turn the cold tap on instead of hot to save the boiler coming on using up gas and electric.
Time your showers
We picked up a 4-minute shower timer a while ago when I visited The London Museum of Water and Steam so I’ve been making sure we all try and stick to it so we don’t waste water!
There are also a number of water-saving devices (including the shower timer) you can order from your local water company.
Turn off tap when brushing your teeth
The boys are always leaving the tap running when brushing their teeth so we’ve bore it into them to stop doing this.
Don’t leave devices on standby, switch off from the mains and make use of smart plugs
Mr H thought I was mad when I went round one evening switching everything that wasn’t in use off. It seems excessive but it really does make a difference. One of the things that cost the most to run on standby is your TV and also any gaming consoles like Playstations.
We now have the following switched off (unless they are in use of course):
- Games consoles
For things that are not easy to just switch on and off (such as phone chargers behind bedside tables), I use a smart plug so I can switch them on and off using the app. I am not sure if it saves as much energy as switching off directly from the mains but I figured it was better than being left on!
Use the Eco setting on your washing machine
I am so used to putting my washing on and adjusting the time so it’s the shortest cycle – thinking this was more economical but this actually uses more energy.
If you have an Eco setting on your machine – use this as it does what it says on the tin and is more energy-efficient to use. The eco setting on mine takes 3 and a half hours so I do have to be more organised by making sure I either use the timer to come on at a set time or I pop the wash on first thing in the morning.
If you don’t have an eco setting on your machine, wash your clothes at 30 degrees instead of 40.
Invest in a flask for hot water
Working from home, you can imagine how often the kettle is boiled for hot drinks. Whilst we do always only fill the kettle to how many cups we need, I worked out that it was costing around 3p each time. Again, this doesn’t sound like much but if were to boil the kettle say 4 times a day, that easily amounts to nearly £4 a month!
Use energy-efficient bulbs
This has been more of a gradual change over the years but we have replaced all our lights with energy-efficient LED bulbs. They last longer than traditional bulbs and use less electricity.
Other things you can do
- Turn your combi-boiler onto Eco mode. This stops it from pre-heating water in advance of when you need it (wasting energy)
- Use blankets to keep warm instead of putting the heating on
- Only use dishwasher when it’s full
- Use a slow cooker to cook meals
- Insulate your loft
- Keep doors closed to keep heat in
- Draft proof windows and doors
- When decorating, consider using Thermal lining paper to retain heat
- Insulate hot water pipes
**UPDATE 25 Aug 2022**
Since writing this earlier in the year (April 2022), energy costs have continued to rise and they don’t look like stopping anytime soon. If the media is correct, rates could rise to worrying levels, so over the past months, I’ve been looking at more methods to reduce our energy usage and make things more efficient.
One thing I have been looking at for a while is a water softener, primarily to help Mr H’s eczema. In researching how this can benefit those with dry skin, I also found that it will help reduce energy bills by removing the limescale from your home, allowing your appliances and heating system to operate more efficiently.
With the potential to improve Mr H’s skin and lower household bills, we had a water softener installed in mid-July. Just over one month in we’re already seeing the benefits all-round:
- Our gas usage for August 2022 (483.80 kWh) compared to August 2021 (840.2 kWh) is substantially lower at about 40% less (obviously there are a number of variables that are impacting this but it’s a significant drop. I’ll monitor this in the coming months and update.)
- Electricity hasn’t shown an improvement but this was expected with the extreme weather as we’ve had fans and an air-con unit on the go.
- The kettle has no limescale so this is boiling faster
- We’re able to use less detergent by having soft water supplying the washing machine (from 2 1/2 caps down to 2 caps)
- Taps, surfaces, glassware and shower screens require far less cleaning so we’re not having to purchase any descalers and limescale removers
- And as for Mr H’s skin so far it’s showing to have a positive effect. He’s scratching a lot less and his skin is much calmer than before. Fingers crossed this continues.
Do you have any other energy-saving tips that I’ve not mentioned above? Do share them with me in the comments below!