3 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Usage

By Callum Barraclough

8th April 2022

(Energy prices went up after the 1st of April 2022 in the UK. Photograph: Pixabay)

With the announcement of increases to living costs in the UK going up by another £620 this year for an average household with gas and electricity, it has become essential to try and reduce your energy usage wherever possible. This is to both help reduce what impact you have on the environment, but also to lower the cost of living to make it more sustainable for yourself and anyone else you live with.

1. Get insulation and central heating controls

In some homes, insulation can be installed or increased in addition to already installed insulation, to help keep more heat in your house, meaning that you use less energy to heat your home, translating to lowered heating bill costs. You can save up to £290 a year depending on the type of house you are in, along with what insulation you’ve had installed, with there being a reduction of £135 if you’re installing loft insulation of 270mm thickness in a non-insulated three-bedroom semi-detached house, for example.

If you already have loft insulation installed and the thickness is around 120mm, you can increase it to 270mm and save about £100 each year. Meanwhile, insulating cavity walls can save up to £155 in a semi-detached house, with solid wall insulation saving up to £210 in a semi-detached house. However, this is more expensive to have installed, so cavity wall insulation depends on what you can afford. The more effective your insulation is, the less energy you will need to heat your home.

Along with this, you can have heating controls installed to turn your heating and hot water on when you want to. For example, you can heat only certain parts of your home and set temperatures for each room, based on what parts need it, as well as help to keep your home at a temperature that is comfortable for you, avoiding wasting heat you do not want. This has the added benefit of saving you around £75 in an average home, cutting a home’s carbon emissions by 320kg a year.

Even if you only have one thermostat for your home, you can still reduce the temperature it operates at to decrease your heating bill by around 10%, adding up more and more as you reduce the temperature further, and lower your impact on the environment.

2. Reduce the amount of water you use

The average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water a day, which leads to a lot of waste due to the energy required to heat warm water, with around 30% of an average home’s gas bill being spent on heating. There are many ways to help reduce this however, one being to repair dripping taps, as a dripping tap can use up to 95 litres of water each day, with hot taps wasting energy on top of that if they are left dripping. On top of this, making sure you do not leave the tap running when you are brushing your teeth will save five litres a minute. Plus you could even keep a cup or bowl of water nearby if you need it,  and you can also use bowls of water when washing dishes and food & vegetables to save energy and water.

You can also keep your showers short, under four minutes to have the reduction be as effective as possible on the environment,  and maximise the savings on your gas bill. Running washing machines and dishwashers with a full load on their economy settings will save water, so will washing your car with a bucket and sponge as opposed to using a hose. Plus collecting rainwater in a water butt will save water you can use to water your garden, preferably during cooler hours, as that will lower the amount of water that evaporates, so that it can benefit the plants more.

You could even install a ‘hippo’ device into your toilet – a plastic bottle, filled with water in the cistern, so that every flush uses less water, saving around 1460 litres of water each year for an average home.

3. Turn off devices

Turning off devices from a fully powered state is an excellent way to reduce the amount of electricity used in your home, but many of these devices also go straight into a suspended state when turned off, continuing to consume a significant amount of energy while doing so. Most, if not all electrical appliances can be unplugged without damaging them. Also, you can invest in a smart plug, or a standby saver, helping you to turn off all your devices at once, instead of having to rummage about in a mess of cables and wiring to unplug devices.

While it may be difficult to see if it is okay to unplug the device you are using once you are finished with it, devices usually come with a manual or a set of instructions, which may be able to clarify if you can unplug it safely. However, you may end up leaving some devices on standby if they carry out useful functions while powered down. Though some devices let you select how much power it uses in standby,  it may be worth considering those options if you have exhausted other ones available.

With all of these options available to you then, there are still many ways to reduce your energy usage and lower your living costs in order to place you in a better place for the future.

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