Defrosting your freezer at least once a year makes it significantly more energy efficient. The build-up of ice on your freezer’s cooling element over time means the freezer has to work harder to transfer heat out and keep the inside temperature cold enough. Keeping your fridge and freezer well stocked is also more efficient because it reduces the amount of warm air that can get in when the doors are opened.
Try to wash your clothes at 30° rather than 40°. Typical loads will come out just as clean in a lower temperature wash, and you’ll save energy and money.
When you come to replace appliances, such as your fridge, freezer, washing machine and dishwasher, buy the most energy-efficient models you can afford. Look for labels such as Energy Saving Trust Recommended, the European EcoLabel and the Energy Star logo. Avoid a tumble dryer unless you really need to as most have a low energy-efficiency rating.
Many people heat their water to a higher temperature than they ever need it. Take a look at your boiler and reduce the hot water temperature by a few degrees. Chances are you won’t notice any difference but you’ll save a little extra cash every month.
Solar panels harness energy from the sun to generate electricity, which can reduce your reliance on electricity from a supplier. If you generate more energy than you need, you can even sell it back to the grid to make a profit.
The UK government is currently paying feed-in tariffs (FITs) for the next 20 years to people who install solar panels. By the time you reach that 20-year mark, you’ll have paid for the installation and made about the same amount back in profit.
A lot of energy can be lost through hot water pipes that aren’t insulated. Use foam tubing to insulate them and you can buy an insulated jacket for your boiler very cheaply. With these in place, the heat energy flowing through your water system will no longer be lost through exposure to colder air, and the cost can be offset within a couple of years.
Loft insulation and cavity wall insulation (for homes built after 1920) make a huge difference to heat retention in your home. On average, the cost of installing cavity wall insulation can be offset through energy savings within five years. Loft insulation is a job you can do pretty easily yourself, and the costs can be offset within an estimated two to three years.
Carpeted floors are better at retaining heat than exposed materials, such as wood or laminate flooring.
A lot of heat can be lost through doors and windows, forcing you to use more energy to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Use draught excluder tape and thick curtains on doors and windows to avoid cold air streaming in and warm air escaping. Double-glazed windows retain heat far more efficiently than single-glazed panels.
Use timers to ensure your heating only comes on for set periods of time when you actually need your home to be heated.
Switch from incandescent lamps to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) or LED light bulbs. If you use CFL lights, the bulbs must be disposed of via local authority recycling and waste management centres because they contain a small amount of mercury, which can cause pollution if disposed of improperly. Store your unbroken bulbs somewhere safe until it’s time for a trip to the recycling centre.
Turn off lights when you’re not in the room and switch off appliances, technology and battery chargers at the socket when they’re not in use. Energy wasted by leaving electrical items on standby costs UK households an average of £30 in wasted energy per year.