There are plenty of active, behavioural changes that we can make in order to cut our energy bills.
But here I’m going to take a different approach and focus on those ‘set and forget’ methods you can use to cut your electricity bills and cut your household carbon footprint (especially true if you’re not with a non-fully renewable energy supplier here in the UK).
1. Switch Energy Supplier
Could Save You: £100’s Per Year
This is, by far, one of the best methods you can use to passively cut down on your energy bills. You can save hundreds of pounds a year by making sure you’re on the most cost-effective tariff on the market.
There are a few energy comparison websites you can use, like Compare The Market. But the one I’d recommend is Money Saving Expert. Specifically, their Cheap Energy Club. This is a free-to-use service with a number of benefits:
Full Market Comparison - Compare small and large suppliers.
Customer Service Ratings - Be comfortable with the company you’re switching to.
Takes Exit Fees Into Account - Will take you current tariff’s exit fees into account. And even doing that, it still might be cheaper to switch.
Automated Alerts - If a cheaper tariff becomes available, you will be notified via e-mail (makes the process much more passive).
2. Energy Efficient Appliances
Could Save You: £100’s Per Year
According to Carbon Brief, whilst output from renewables had increased by 95 terawatt hours (TWh) since 2005, energy demand had actually fallen by 103 TWh and UK electricity generation per person dropped by 24% over the same time period .
In raw numbers, the UK generated 11% less electricity in 2018 than it did in the year 2000.
Sources: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy: Digest of UK Energy Statistics; Carbon Brief. Chart by Andrew Young - Capital Matters.
One significant contribution to this decline in energy demand has been energy efficiency.
EU energy labels used to range from A to G. Since then, A+, A++ and A+++ had to be introduced to keep up with technological advances.
When you’re comparing appliances, don’t just take into account the up-front cost. All appliances have running energy costs associated with them. A more energy efficient product will reduce your energy use and cut your carbon footprint. This is a great, passive way to reduce your potential future energy consumption, without having to think about it past the point of purchase.
According to Simon Evans from Carbon Brief, a switch from a B/C-rated fridge to an A++ rated fridge can halve that appliances energy usage.
You can even calculate these running energy costs using my electrical running cost calculator.
3. LED Lightbulbs
Could Save You: £35 Per Year
LED lightbulbs can reduce both your electricity costs and your carbon footprint, which can help minimise your electricity bill. And don’t think this has to be a trade off. In fact, modern LED bulbs have a huge range of advantages:
Reduced Cost For Similar Output: 50W Halogen: £5.55/Year. 17W LED: £1.85/Year.
Longer lifespan - LEDs last for 20-25 years
Range of Applications - General, Outdoor, Spotlight, Dimmable etc.
Some Things To Consider:
Brightness in lumens - LEDs have a lower wattage than traditional bulbs. As a rough guide, a 15W traditional bulb will equate to a 140 lumen LED. A 100W traditional bulb will equate to a 1,520 lumen LED.
Bulb Temperature - Measured in Kelvin, anything in the 2000K - 3000K range is classed as warm white. Anything in the 3000K - 4500K range is classed as cool white.
Colour Rendering Index (CRI) - A bulb with a CRI of 100 will illuminate colours in the environment accurately. But anything over a CRI of 80 is usually sufficient.
4. Radiator Reflectors
Could Save You: £20 Per Year
When you heat your home, some of that heat will escape through the walls. In older houses especially, this can radically reduce your home’s energy efficiency.
A radiator reflector is a really simple product designed to keep more of that radiated heat in your house. Basically, the product is a reflective sheet which you cut to size and place behind the radiators on all your external walls.
I use the Energy Saving Trust recommended product, Radflek. Just make sure you buy enough sheets to fit behind all of the external wall radiators in your house.
5. Draught Proofing
Could Save You: £55 Per Year
Draught-proofing is all about plugging unwanted gaps in your home. Proper ventilation is controllable and healthy. Draughts just waste money.
Thankfully, draft proofing, for the most part, is easy, cheap and can be can be completed yourself.
6. Hot Water Tank/Pipe Insulation
Could Save You: £80 Per Year
Wrapping insulation around hot water tanks and hot water pipes will keep your water hotter for longer, thus saving you energy.
Hot Water Tank - Hot Water Cylinder Jacket. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Hot Water Pipes - Foam Pipe Lagging. Make sure you buy the correct size/quantity.
7. Water Efficient Shower Head
Could Save You: £70 Per Year
A water-efficient shower head uses less water to produce the same results. ‘Which’ recommends doing a simple test. If a 2L container under your shower (on full) fills in less than 12 seconds, you could benefit from fitting a water-efficient shower.
Some things to consider:
Electric Showers - Don’t install a water-efficient shower head. Decreased water flows can cause damage. But, these showers are efficient anyway as they only heat the water you use.
Power Showers - The least efficient as they use the most water.
Larger Shower Heads/More Holes - Use more water. Pressure depends on shower type and water pressure.
The lower the flow rate, the more water you will save.
Tip: A tap aerator/ flow regulator, fitted to your bathroom sink, can reduce water usage.
8. Vampire Power Audit
Could Save You: £40 Per Year
Vampire, or phantom power refers to the energy consumed by an appliance whilst it’s on stand-by mode. It is estimated that the average home in the UK spends up to £86 per year on stand-by power alone.
Now, of course, I could recommend that you turn off all of your appliances at the wall socket every time. I realise, however, that this is neither a sensible, nor a passive approach to energy saving.
So instead, I recommend doing a complete energy audit. Do a full tour of your household, switching off all the appliances that you either don’t use frequently, or haven’t used in a long time.
If you want to join the energy nerd club, you can even purchase a power meter, measure the phantom power of all your appliances (in kWh) and work out how much you could save (use my handy calculator).