Every Friday I publish “Frugal Friday!“, an open-ended series with some of the simple and best ways to really save you money both now and in the future.
This Friday I am concentrating on reducing electricity bills. Here in the UK winter-time is traditionally the time of higher energy usage: the elderly use electric blankets, whole families have home lighting left on for longer as British Summer Time draws to a close, and we are generally stuck inside for the evenings more often requiring entertainment.
There are some simple steps you can take (and some cool gadgets you can buy without guilt!), to help lessen the impact of this seasonal increase in our home carbon emissions courtesy of our electric usage.
Check Your Tariff
Before last year, there was massive competition in the domestic supply market with various “lock in” and “fixed” deals. You may well have switched, I know I did. The fix on those tariffs has come to a close now though and prices are floating upwards so it’s time to get switching again.
There are hundreds of sites that will likely find you something cheaper; some good starting points are GoCompare, CompareTheMarket, and uSwitch. Don’t forget to finally go via QuidCo to get any cashback available, too!
Energy Saving Lightbulbs
Fairly obvious this one, and easy to achieve. Morrison’s just last week had an offer on of 4 for £1, and not low-quality either. As the nights get longer, more retailers will be trying to tempt us, so keep your eyes peeled. Even if you pay full price for them though you will still make a saving. The average bulb lasts for 5 years of normal use and consumes between 11 and 17 watts.
By switching all the bulbs in your house to low-energy equivalents, you could save around £112 a year and up to a whopping £307 over the life of a typical 8,000 hour bulb.
Turn Them Off
When you leave a room, turn the light off. Sounds so simple but take a moment and think – in the depths of winter – how often do you walk/drive/cycle around and think half of the houses you come across look like they are attempting to imitate the Blackpool Illuminations? Why pay even a reduced amount to keep an unoccupied room lit?
This can be a challenge with children, but with a little perseverance even the family dog can probably manage to turn the light out when it has finished in the kitchen. Your moody teenager may require slightly more effort.
Kill The Standby
Televisions, DVD players, computers, Satellite, Cable, modems, microwaves, food mixers, video recorders, printers, even modern intelligent washing machines and dishwashers. It’s amazing what has a ‘standby’ mode these days. When standing by, ready for action, these devices are still sucking electricity and adding to your bills yet giving little to no benefit. Switch them off at the wall when you are done using them and again save upwards of £50 over the course of a typical year.
The Bye Bye Standby Energy Saving Kit takes the hassle out of such energy efficiencies by automatically killing the power for you when the device enters standby. It even comes with a handy remote to remotely control whatever you plug into it.
Monitor Your Usage
Last year, I got an Owl Cm119 Wireless Electricity Monitor, and they are absolutely fabulous. You can literally see, in real time, just how much money is being wasted in your home – and perhaps more impressive – see the difference after your efforts. The device pays for itself inside the first month or two, and you can find yourself doing seasonal challenges if you are not careful!
Banish the Tumble
As convenient as the tumble-dryer may be, it costs pounds to use every time. Pop the clothes out on the line if the weather is nice and get nicer clothes that last longer, dried for free courtesy of mother nature. Even if it is windy but lacking in sun you’ll be surprised how quickly clothes can dry in the open air.
Fridge & Freezer
If your freezer requires it, keep it defrosted regularly. Any build-up of ice means it has to work harder, consuming more electricity. If your fridge is regularly half-empty or more, fill it with water-filled bottles. These will help keep the inside temperature stable and reduce the effects opening and closing the door have. If your appliance(s) are older, when replacing ensure you get A-rated.
Never put warm or hot items in your fridge or freezer, either. Not only will this play havok with the internal temperature, it can take hours for your appliance to restore the previous temperature and damage food already within as well.