From boiling pasta to ‘vampire devices’, here are our top tips on how to reduce your energy bills
With the massive increases to energy costs of great concern to us all, we thought we’d put together some of our best tips for cutting how much energy you use and the cost of your bills.
Is it cheaper to boil water for pasta in the kettle or in a pan on the hob?
Generally speaking, it’s cheaper to boil water in the kettle than on the hob, as the kettle heats from the inside and doesn’t waste energy into the kitchen and by needing to heat the pan before the water can heat.
Kettles boil water more quickly and use less energy to do so.
That said, Which? says that because gas is cheaper per unit than electricity, it, on some occasions, can work out slightly cheaper to boil water on a gas hob than in the kettle.
Does it waste energy to leave phone chargers plugged in?
In short, yes.
British Gas has estimated that as much as 23% of our electric use, or £200 a year – before the price increases kick in! – can be attributed to what are being termed as vampire devices; chargers and items that are left plugged in and on standby.
These devices can include things like hi-fis, TVs, games consoles, set-top boxes and phone chargers, all of these use power whilst plugged in and on standby – and the older the device, the more power it uses, so, make sure you unplug or turn off at the wall when you’re not using them.
Furthermore, chargers you forget about – electric toothbrushes, razors, etc will do the same.
“As soon as your device is fully charged, try to get into the habit of unplugging it,” says Marc Robson, a British Gas smart energy expert. “As well as saving energy, this will prolong your battery life. And it could also save you about £60 a year on your electricity bills.”
Are electric or gas hobs cheaper to cook on?
Gas hobs are cheaper, because the unit press for gas is lower than the unit price for electricity.
This is offset a little if you’ve got an induction hob, as induction hobs are the most energy efficient because they don’t waste energy heating space around the pan.
Whichever you use, you can cut your energy use by using the right sized pan, not using more water than you need to and putting a lid on it whilst you’re cooking.
Does the microwave use less energy than the hob?
If you’re reheating food, microwaves are more efficient than both gas and electric ovens, but it’s more difficult to compare them with hobs; the microwave is likely to use less energy, but based on gas unit prices, a gas hob might still be cheaper.
Can I wash my clothes properly at lower than 40C?
Modern washing powders and liquids work effectively at lower temperatures. And many brands advertise that their products work at 30C.
In fact, just by moving the dial down to 30C, you can make a big difference to the cost of running a washing machine – it’ll cut the energy needed by 40%.
Also, spinning your clothes before hanging them out to dry, instead of relying on your tumble dryer will help you to save more energy on top of this.
Is it cheaper to keep the heating on at a constant low heat, or turn it on and off as needed?
This one’s pretty self-explanatory – if your boiler and heating are always on, you’re always using energy and spending money. Although the boiler will use extra energy to heat up when you turn it back on, it’ll always be less than it would use keeping it running constantly.
The only exception to this is if you have a heat pump, as these are more efficient if you leave them running for longer at a lower output.
You can also save money and energy by turning radiators off in rooms you don’t use often – keep the doors closed to these rooms and the cold won’t bleed to the rooms you do use.
Does it always make sense to turn lights off when you leave a room?
Neither modern LEDs nor traditional light bulbs take any extra energy to turn on, so you’ll always save money turning lights off when you leave a room. If you make a note to always do this, you could save around £20 a year.
What’s more, if you’re still using traditional light bulbs, then switching to LED bulbs will save you around 69% on your bills comparatively.
Is it cheaper to have a bath or a shower?
A short(ish) shower.
A typical bath requires about 90 litres of water, split between 60 litres or so of hot water and 20 to 30 of cold. A normal thermostatic mixer shower head discharges about nine litres a minute, requiring about six litres of hot and three litres of cold. So, providing you shower in less than 10 minutes, it will be more economical to shower.