big energy saving week

Disclosure: this post is in partnership with Smart Energy GB

This week is Big Energy Saving Week – a joint campaign between the Energy Saving Trust, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Citizens Advice – all about helping people to check they are on the best deal; switching tariff or supplier; and saving energy by taking control of their heating and electricity.

I’m all about saving energy (and money).  I’ve spoken a lot about energy saving in the past – here are my 15 easy (and perhaps unexpected) ways to save energy – from dusting your fridge to adjusting your TV – but what about some of the more obvious ways to save energy?

Something I haven’t covered in the past are smart meters – those handy devices that can help you save energy and money in your home by providing you with your energy use in pounds and pence, in near real time.  I don’t have one yet, but my parents do and it’s really handy just to see exactly what appliances are energy guzzlers, and the difference just turning down your heating by 1°C can make to your energy usage and bills.

free smart meter

Smart meters don’t just tell you your energy usage, but also send automatic meter readings to your utility company, meaning accurate bills, and an end to meter readings and unpredictable estimates, which is brilliant.

If you’re on a prepayment meter then with a smart meter you’ll be able to check your balance, and even top up your meter from your smartphone, online, or on the phone.  When we moved into our house in April, we had prepayment gas and electricity meters which we couldn’t change for a couple of months.  We found it was a pain in the bum having to go to the shop to top up on a regular basis.  We also always ended up buying biscuits or cakes, even if we just popped in to top up the meter, so this would have been a godsend for our wallets and hips!  Our gas meter isn’t in the most accessible place, so it was a hassle having to scramble about on the floor to top it up too.

The good news is that you don’t have to go out and buy a smart meter – by 2020 every household in Great Britain will be offered a free smart meter from their energy company, which they will also install free of charge for you.  Smart Energy GB, the national campaign behind the smart meter roll out, have put together a guide on how you can get a smart meter, with tips on how you might be able to speed up the process.

Of course, it’s not just a case of having a smart meter.  You’ve got to be able to understand how to read it!  Here’s a really handy guide on how to read and understand a smart meter display:

If you can’t see the video you can find it here.

Some Other Top Energy Saving Tips

Beyond my 15 ways to save energy there are some other simple ways to save energy.  My top tips are:

Invest in basic draught proofing for your home – such as draught proofing strips for your doors and windows.  October is a good time to do this, in preparation for winter, and the strips can be picked up cheaply from any DIY store.

Add radiator reflector foil to the walls behind your radiator.  Not only will this reflect heat back into the room, but will reduce heat loss by as much as up to 50%, especially if you’re using it on radiators that are mounted on to external walls.  Again, the foil can be picked up cheaply from any DIY store – the cheapest I’ve seen it is £4.99 a roll – so we’re not talking big bucks!

Switching to LED light bulbs when your existing bulbs run out are another great energy saving tip.  Although more expensive than traditional energy saving bulbs they are cheaper to run.  We’ve recently installed them in our bathroom, and don’t heat up when in use, compared to halogen bulbs, making them safer too.

Rather than switching off your heating when you leave your house, try and get into the habit of switching off your heating about half an hour before you’re due to leave the house.  It takes around half an hour for a house to cool down after switching off the heating, so you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference, and you’ll pocket the savings!

Do you have a smart meter?  Has it changed your behaviour, or helped you to save energy?  Do share in the comments below!