✔ Only heat the rooms people are using
✔ Keep your fridge as full as possible
✔ Use your dishwasher instead of cleaning crockery by hand
The coronavirus is here – and so are you, stuck in your home for the foreseeable future.
While this means you’ll save on transport costs, restaurant bills, and cinema tickets, your constant presence at home will require a larger quantity of electricity, heat, and water than usual.
In the week commencing March 16th, gas and electricity usage rose by 4% in the UK, according to energy firm Octopus. This will cost customers up to £4.78 more per week – a figure which is likely to rise as we get further into this lockdown.
If you’re worried about keeping the power on – it’ll be okay. Gas and electricity suppliers have agreed to a series of measures to ensure no-one gets cut off.
Four million people on prepayment meters will receive financial help if they aren’t able to top up, while anyone struggling to pay their energy bills will be supported. No-one on a credit meter will be disconnected.
But with companies scrabbling to stay afloat and everyone’s financial future looking uncertain, it’s a good time to save money wherever you can.
You won’t be able to do things like install extra insulation, get your windows replaced, or have your boiler serviced (though you can get an emergency plumber) – but there are still dozens of easy ways to reduce your energy bills. Just make sure to avoid these home energy myths.
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Put lids on pots and pans to speed up cooking
As well as saving energy, you’ll also eat sooner.
Put a small pot on a small burner
Otherwise you’re just wasting energy for no good reason.
Switch off the oven before food is fully cooked
This allows you to finish your cooking without using further energy.
Don’t open the oven door while it’s cooking
Put your food in, then take it out when it’s done. You don’t need to check on the food every few minutes – especially if your oven has a way for you to look inside.
Don’t preheat the oven
This is an enormous energy sinkhole. Your food will start to cook as the oven heats up – just add a couple of minutes onto your waiting time, and ditch the preheating.
Cook your food using ceramic or glass pans
They retain heat better than their metal counterparts, meaning you’ll be using your heat more efficiently.
Don’t leave metal pans in your oven while you’re using it
They’ll steal some of the heat intended for your food, making it take longer to heat up a meal.
Use microwaves to reheat food, not the oven
Microwaves are more efficient heaters – as shown by their shorter cook times.
If you have a slow cooker, take advantage
A slow cooker is much more energy-efficient than an oven, and there’s no better time to use one than during a lockdown.
Don’t block your radiators with furniture
Unless you want a really hot table and an unnecessarily cold room, that is.
Turn down the thermostat
If the lockdown only lasts three months, that’s still £20 – which could pay for your first grocery shop after the crisis.
Heat the humans, not the building
Don’t keep the heating on all the time if you’re not cold, and don’t heat rooms you’re not in.
If the heating is on, shut your doors and windows
Don’t let the heat out of your home by opening the windows. If it’s warm enough that you need some cold air, switch the heating off.
In a similar vein, keep the heat in whatever room you’re in by closing internal doors. Opening them will cause the heat to disperse and become less effective.
Turn off all the lights you don’t need
Leaving them on all the time is harmful to the environment and your bank balance. If you’re not in a room, you don’t need it to be lit up.
Isolation doesn’t have to be isolating
Unless you have serious problems with your housemates, you should arrange to spend time together, all in one room, sharing the same light and heat.
You could have dinner together, watch a film, drink your worries away, or all of the above. You’ll cut your energy bills, and keep yourself sane.
Keep your fridge full
Your fridge will cool down your food, which will in turn keep the fridge cold. It’s a virtuous cycle, and if you can, you should take advantage of it.
Let food cool down before putting it in the fridge
One of the easiest ways to use excessive amounts of energy is to put hot food in the fridge, forcing your machine to use more electricity cooling the remains of your curry.
Instead, leave your chicken tikka masala on the side to cool down, before putting it in the fridge when it’s nice and tepid.
Defrost food in the fridge
This eases the machine’s workload, because the ice-cold food makes the rest of the fridge colder.
Turn the tap off while you’re brushing
There’s never any sense in wasting water, especially when you’re trying to save money. Leaving the tap running when you’re brushing your teeth wastes six litres per minute, according to The Waterwise Project.
If you brush for the recommended two minutes, that’s 12 litres wasted per brushing.
Fill a bottle with water and put it in the fridge
This’ll stop you from having to turn on the tap every time you want a cool, refreshing drink.
Use a kettle to boil water…
Using a pot on the stove is much less efficient, and you get that satisfying click when your kettle’s done.
…but only boil as much water as you need
Don’t make your kettle boil extra water, only to then force it to boil the same water the next time you want a cuppa.
Shower instead of bathing – and keep them short
A short shower uses less water than a bath.
Use the dishwasher if you have it
Washing everything by hand uses more hot water, so save some money – and the planet – by slinging that dirty plate in the dishwasher instead.
Wash a full load of clothes
Don’t waste energy by putting on unnecessary washes – wait until you’ve got enough to fill up your machine.
Clean your lint trap
Removing lint from your dryer means it doesn’t have to work as hard or run as long to dry your clothes.
Use your washing machine on its lowest temperature setting
Higher settings use more energy, and can damage your clothes.
The unnecessary heat can make colours fade, damage certain fabrics, and cause your clothes to shrink. Unless they’re especially soiled, a cold wash should do the job.
Check your items’ labels, and if they can handle it, dunk them in the frigid waters of your washing machine.
Bonus tip: Keep everything clean
This will keep dirt and dust from clogging up your appliances, leaving them to run smoothly, at peak efficiency – resulting in the lowest energy bill possible.
There may be more options available to you than those detailed above. If you’re able to switch energy suppliers, it could save you as much as £300, and if you have a garden or a balcony, hanging your clothes out to dry is a great way to cut costs.
If you put our advice into practice, you’ll maximise your savings – though if you need to take a long bath to maintain your mental health, no-one would blame you.
And when all of this is over, you’ll be able to do even more.