7 easy energy wins for winter
For many reasons, we start to feel the pinch over the winter months. Festive celebrations and gift shopping are a big part of where our cash goes this season, but here’s where we all notice the change: our utility bills!
The heating’s on nearly every day, and if that’s not enough, we’re probably spending more time indoors – that means more gas for our stoves too, and longer hours of electric lighting to make up for the lack of daylight.
Luckily, all it takes is a few changes to your energy habits and you’ll soon see a difference. It actually does pay to be clued up! Here are a few easy ways to save some energy:
1. All that warmth and no-one to enjoy it…
Take a minute to look over the settings on your thermostat. Are you usually out during the day? Make sure your boiler isn’t set to burn away when nobody’s in. Set it to come back on a few minutes before you come home so that it’s ready for you – or better still, only switch the heating and water on when you need it.
2. Come back, heat!
Do you have a radiator fixed to an external wall? Hate to break it to you, but loads of that heat could be escaping outside… Unless you slot some tin foil or a reflector pad behind it! That way, all the heat bounces back into your room.
You can also keep heat in by closing curtains when it gets dark, and checking that you have sufficient insulation in your walls and roof (if you’re renting your home, speak to your landlord).
3. Go draught-hunting
If you feel like it takes a lot to heat your home, it’ll help to know where cold air is sneaking in. These are the most common offenders:
– Window frames
– Doorways (including letterboxes and keyholes)
– Cracks in floorboards
– Check for draughts. If you find one, a quick fix is to pop down a draught excluder (old towels will do until you find a proper one). Some foam draught-excluding tape should solve the problem in the longer term.
NOTE: Make sure you maintain a little ventilation in your home, otherwise damp and mould could develop. Open a window from time to time especially if you’re drying clothes inside.
4. Jackets aren’t just for you and me!
What does a good jacket do when we’re outside? It keeps our body heat in. The same applies to your hot water tank! If it’s exposed, the water inside will take longer to come to temperature and won’t stay hot as long. So wrap your water tank in a cosy insulating jacket to conserve more hot water – it’s a small upfront cost for a big long-term energy saving measure.
5. Light it up
Fun fact: Low-energy lightbulbs only use a quarter of the energy of normal bulbs. Consider refitting your most frequently-used lights with energy-saving or LED bulbs.
6. Watch those appliances
We don’t often think about it, but it’s amazing how much energy we waste by being complacent with household appliances. Here are some quick fixes:
– Only put on a bundle of laundry when the washing machine is full, and use a faster, cooler setting.
– Don’t leave computers and devices on standby. Switch them off at the wall – most appliances will maintain their settings even if you unplug them.
– When cooking, cut food into smaller pieces and keep the lid on the pot. The food will cook quicker, using less power!
– Only fill a kettle with as much water as you need, so it takes less energy to boil.
– Use old newspaper to fill gaps in your freezer – believe it or not, this will help it use less energy to keep food frozen.
7. Get smart
Smart meters tell you exactly how much energy you’ve used and what it’ll cost. If you see your usage in plain figures, it’s so much easier to budget and take measures to reduce your consumption. Ask your provider to install one – it’s free, and as long as you’re the person in charge of the account that pays your utility bills, you’re automatically entitled to a smart meter.
These are just a few things you can do to cut down your winter costs, but there’s so much more – from the little things to much more significant household improvements, such as installing new heating systems and insulation.
If you want more advice, Cosy Kingdom is a free and impartial energy advice service available to anyone in Fife. We can visit you in your home to help you stay warm and save energy. You can request a visit by calling us on 01592 858458, texting COSY and your name to 88440, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or use our booking form.
In the meantime, you can find more advice on the links below: