The rising cost of energy has made it more important than ever to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. To give you some advice on how to do this, we’ve gathered 12 of the best energy saving tips to help shrink your utility bill and reduce your household’s greenhouse gas emissions.
How much could you save?
Take devices off standby
Draught proof your home
Fit energy-efficient light bulbs
Reduce bath and shower time
Be more savvy with your kettle
Insulate your home
Saving energy in the winter
Get your boiler serviced
Reduce your boiler flow temperature (combi boilers)
Reduce your water temperature (combi boilers)
Check and maintain your radiators
Install a smart thermostat
How much could you save with these energy saving tips?
Every little helps when it comes to saving energy, whether it’s little habits to save on your electricity bill or something bigger, like insulation to keep your home warmer for longer in the winter.
Take a look at the money you could save by following our tips below*:
|Energy saving tip||Cost saving per year|
|Switch off standby||£60|
|Draught proof gaps||£50|
|Change to energy saving light bulbs||Up to £15 per bulb|
|Wash at 30 degrees and put on one less load per week||£30|
|Insulate your water cylinder||£50|
|Install loft insulation||£260 – £475|
|Lowering combi boiler flow temperature**||Up to £112|
1. Take appliances and devices off standby
Any device that has a standby light and/or is warm to touch is using energy. So get into the habit of switching your appliances and devices off at the wall or unplugging them.
Most electrical appliances can be turned off at the plug without upsetting their programming. Timer plugs also let you control when devices are switched on and off, and are a good investment for certain appliances.
Taking other popular devices off standby can help you make significant savings over the course of a year, these include*:
- Turning off the light in an unused room – £25
- Television – £16-24
- Set-top/cable box – £20-23
- Games devices – £16
- Smart speakers – £3.45 per speaker
- Microwave – £16
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that weaning yourself off standby mode could save you around £60 a year. Find out which of your appliances uses the most electricity so you know where to make the biggest savings.
2. Draught proof your home
Draught proofing is a relatively cheap and easy job that pays for itself. Plugging all the gaps in your doors and windows stops all your lovely warm air escaping outside, and blocks the cold outside air from inviting itself in. Here are some of the less obvious ways that heat escapes from your home:
- Windows and window frames
- Doors and door frames
- Loft hatch
Be your household’s draught detective and search these places for gaps. Once you’ve located gaps between windows and frames, buy some draught-proofing strips from your local hardware shop (they’re inexpensive).
For doors, you can get draught excluding foam or rubber tape. You can use flexible fillers for floorboards and strip insulation for loft hatches. And don’t forget keyhole covers and a decent letterbox flap. Check out our article on draught-proofing your home for more tips and tricks.
Draught proofing your home could save you up to £50 per year according to the Energy Saving Trust.
3. Fit energy-efficient light bulbs and turn them off when not in use
If you’re still using old halogen light bulbs in your home, replacing them with energy saving LED bulbs could save you £15 per bulb on your yearly electricity bill.
If you need help with the switch, check out our guide on how to change a light bulb for more information.
Once you’ve changed your bulbs, you might want to check that you and the family are keeping on top of turning them off when you leave a room. Doing so not only helps reduce your carbon footprint but can also help you save £25 a year.
4. Wash clothes at 30 degrees
Washing your clothes at 30˚C uses around 40% less electricity over a year than washing at 40˚C or higher. By washing at 30˚C and putting on just one less wash per week, you could save £30 a year (Energy Saving Trust).
5. Reduce bath and shower time
Most people know showers are better than baths when it comes to saving energy. Cutting down on baths and keeping your shower time to just 4 minutes could save a typical household £75 a year on their energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
If you absolutely must have a bath, doing it just once a week for a treat and showering for the rest of the week will have a big impact on your savings and your environmental impact over time.
6. Be more savvy with your kettle
Hopefully everyone knows this tip by now, but if you want to make a cup of tea it’s more energy efficient to simply fill the kettle up for the cup that you need. This little trick can save you up to £7 annually, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
When you’re pre-boiling water for cooking foods like pasta, using the kettle rather than heating it on the stove is quicker and uses less energy.
7. Insulate your home
If you can insulate the following areas and items in your home you’ll spend less money heating water up, and your hot water will stay hotter for longer. All good for your pocket, all good for the planet.
If you’re living in a house with an uninsulated loft, a quarter of your heat is literally going through the roof. That means for every £4 on your heating bill, £1 of it has evaporated.
If you’ve already got minimal insulation, upgrading from 100mm to the recommended 270mm can dramatically slash your heating bills. It also helps you do your bit for the environment – if everyone in the UK installed 270mm loft insulation, we could save 2.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, which is equivalent to taking about 100,000 cars off the road.
Cavity wall insulation
About a third of all the heat lost in an uninsulated home escapes through the walls, so it might also be beneficial to look into getting cavity wall insulation to prevent heat loss. Houses built after 1990 should already have it; if your house was built between 1920 and 1990, it’s likely to have cavity walls and is a good candidate for insulation to be installed. Pre-1920 and your walls are probably solid.
Filling cavity walls is not a DIY job, so you’ll need to hire a registered installer. For an average-sized house with easily accessible walls, a pro will get the job done in around two hours. Read more in our cavity wall insulation guide.
Hot water tank insulation
If you haven’t got a combi boiler, you’ll have a hot water tank somewhere in your home. A British Standard hot water cylinder jacket costs about £15 and you can easily fit it yourself if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you already have a jacket fitted around your tank, check that it’s at least 80mm thick. Topping up your hot water tank insulation from 25mm to 80mm thick could save you around £20 a year, which is more than the cost of the jacket.
Pipe insulation is another task you can do yourself, as long as your pipes are accessible. Pipe insulation consists of a foam tube that covers the exposed pipes between your hot water cylinder and boiler, reducing the amount of heat lost and, therefore, keeping your water hotter for longer. Pipe insulation is extremely cheap and you can order it online after measuring up your pipes.
Saving energy in the Winter
1. Get your boiler serviced
Your boiler is responsible for 55% of your yearly energy use. We crank up the boiler twice a day for around five months each year, so getting a full service helps it burn fuel as efficiently as possible to save on heating costs. The best time to arrange your boiler service is just before the winter months set in, as your boiler can develop minor, fixable faults over the course of a year that, if left unchecked, could turn into a big deal if there’s a big freeze. Plus, Gas Safe Home Experts are typically less busy during Autumn (rather than Winter). Here are 5 reasons to book an annual boiler service if you need any more convincing!
Besides getting your boiler serviced every year, there are a few easy ways to take care of your whole heating system that will make sure your boiler can do its job properly, such as bleeding your radiators and checking they’re balanced or even turning down your thermostat just a pinch!
2. Reduce your combi boiler flow temperature
If you’ve got a combi boiler, turning down your boiler flow and water temperature is a great way to save money.
This setting controls the temperature of the water that heats your radiators and many homes have this set too high – around 70-80 degrees.
Changing this to 60 degrees could help reduce your gas bills by £112 a year (based on energy prices from December 2022). Your home might take a little longer to heat up, but it will still get to the same temperature and save you money in the process.
Nesta has a great guide on how to reduce your flow temperature, but if all else fails you can always find the setting in your boiler manual.
Look out for symbols like these, which usually indicate radiator temperature:
3. Reduce your water temperature (Combi boilers)
Combi boilers also allow you to change the temperature of the water coming from your taps. If you ever find yourself diluting your hot bath with cold water to get the temperature right then you could benefit from turning your hot water temperature down.
Octopus Energy says a temperature of about 55°C should be enough for most homes and it’s really quick and easy to change the temperature.
There should be a tap icon on the front of your boiler control panel indicating the dial or button that adjusts the water temperature. Try switching to 55 degrees for a few days to see if it works for you.
4. Check and maintain your radiators
Your radiators are the foot soldiers of your central heating system and it’s vital to keep them in good health. Here are a few tips to keep them running efficiently.
Clear your radiators
After years of dutiful service, it’s totally normal for your radiators to get clogged up with dirt, sludge, rust and debris, rendering them less effective at heating up.
What you can do is a powerflush. The ultimate spring clean for your heating system flushes out any sludge or rust that may have built up. Our how-to carry out a powerflush article has a step-by-step guide. If you feel it’s not a job for you, get a Gas Safe Registered Home Expert to do it for you.
A magnetic filter is also a great long-term tool in your arsenal. It’s a little device fitted close to your boiler that attracts the magnetic rust particles in the sludge and filters them out of your system. This can improve the water flow and help cut your energy bills. It can also increase the lifespan of your boiler.
Bleed your radiators
Over time, radiators can develop cold spots caused by air trapped in the system. This prevents all of your radiators from heating up and working efficiently.
Check your radiators for cold spots and follow our guide on how to bleed them to get your heating back to full power.
Turn down radiators in rooms you’re not using
Make sure you’re only heating the rooms that you need. The Government says you could save around £70 a year turning radiator valves down to between 2.5 and 3 in rooms you don’t use.
5. Install a smart thermostat or turn your regular one down
Did you know you can also get a smart thermostat? Some of these smart thermostats monitor and ‘learn’ your habits and then control your heating accordingly – all automatically. You can download an app that allows you to turn your central heating on and off whether you’re at home or out and about, which helps you to reduce energy waste.
If a smart thermostat isn’t for you then make sure your heating is set the lowest comfortable temperature you can manage, which typically ranges between 18 and 21°C. Every 1°C lower you set your thermostat to saves you up to £80 on your annual heating bill (says Energy Saving Trust).
Getting a smart meter can show you in real-time the result of the changes you make, like how much energy you are saving by turning down your thermostat. While having a smart meter alone won’t save you money, it will show you in pounds and pence how much energy you’re using. What you do with that information is where the magic happens.
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*Sourced from Energy Saving Trust. England, Scotland and Wales savings are for a typical three-bedroom, gas-heated home in Great Britain, using a gas price of 8p/kWh and electricity price of 30p/kWh. Water savings are based on average occupancy. Correct as of July 2023.
**Based on energy prices as of December 2022 in a Salford Energy House report. Based on lowering boiler flow temperature from 80 degrees to 60 degrees.