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Energy Saving

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

14 Easy Ways to Save Energy (And Money!) In The Home

living room with grey sofa, cream rug and plants

Looking for easy ways to save energy and money to help beat the energy price rises? I’ve got you covered with my handy, useful, and practical renter-friendly tips to help cut your bills and keep you warm.

With the new higher energy price cap taking effect from Friday 1st October, millions of householders across Scotland, England, and Wales are set to see their electricity and gas prices soar. It’s estimated that household energy bills will rise by a massive £139 a year. What’s more, prepayment meter customers (typically those who can least afford energy price hikes) will see an even bigger £153 increase.

At a time when many householders have had their finances battered by the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic, it’s poor timing. Particularly, as the days get colder and darker, we are all going to be using more heating and lighting. Not only that but food price rises are stretching household budgets, Christmas is not that far around the corner, and many people will be impacted by the withdrawal of Covid support schemes. In short, it’s a financial sh*t storm for many, many householders.

Easy Ways to Save On Your Energy Bills At Home

Image of a living room with a blue text box that says easy ways to save energy and money at home.

I’ve been writing for almost 9 years here at Moral Fibres, and in that time I’ve covered a whole range of easy energy-saving tips. In a former life, I worked in a local Energy Saving Trust advice hub. I also hold a City & Guilds energy saving qualification, so energy saving is something I know more than a little about.

There are so many ideas on easy ways to save energy contained in these here archives. So much, that I thought it might be really useful if I collated them in one post for old and new Moral Fibres readers alike.  Here you can learn ways to save money on both your electricity and gas bills, without compromising on the comfort levels of your home. I promise none of my tips involve wearing multiple jumpers, hats, scarves, and gloves at all times. However, it is of course good practice to pop a jumper on when you are cold, before cranking up the thermostat!

Many energy-saving tips focus on the big stuff. Things like insulating your walls, or switching to double or even triple glazing. These are very valid energy-saving tips. However, as someone who rented for many years, I remember the frustration at having ambivalent landlords who didn’t care that my energy bills were sky-high. I also remember the frustration at lacking the autonomy to be able to make these improvements. So, for these tips, I’ve focused on the more accessible energy-saving tips that almost anyone can implement.

Let’s crack on with the tips!

Easy Ways to Save Energy In Your Kitchen

Cream kitchen with wooden worktops and white exposed brick walls

Here are some of my easy ways to save energy and money in the kitchen:

Food Storage

  • Did you know that freezers work best when they are full?  This is because freezers expend most energy when they have to cool down the warm air that gets in when you open the door to take food out. Here’s some clever tips to pack your fridge and freezer efficiently – from filling water bottles and reusing styrofoam packing blocks to keep your bills down.
  • On a similar vein, defrosting your freezer, is a pain but so worth it! Frost buildup in your freezer increases the amount of work your freezer’s motor has to do. If the motor is working harder, then this means it’s using more energy.  Keeping it fairly frost-free means savings for the environment and for you. Not convinced? This Is Money says you can save £100 to £200 a year just by defrosting your freezer.
  • Whilst you are defrosting your freezer, you may want to dust your fridge.  Specifically the coils at the back of the fridge, if you are able to do so. This is a surprising but effective tip, as when dust gathers on the condenser coils, it means your fridge has to work a lot harder.  A harder working fridge means more energy is being consumed by it to do its job. This, in turn, results in bigger electricity bills for you.  And it can shorten the life of your fridge, so you may have to fork out for a new fridge much earlier than if you’d been a bit more vigilant with the feather duster. According to Friends of the Earth, keeping your fridge’s coils clean can improve your fridge’s efficiency by up to a whopping 30%. 

How To Save Energy When You Are Cooking

  • Why using your microwave can be more efficient at cooking small portions of food. You can save 80% of energy compared to using an oven.
  • Similarly, why you should switch your microwave off at the wall when you aren’t using it. A typical microwave is on for 70 hours a year. Yet a microwave draws power for more than 100 times as long, just to keep the clock and electronic controls powered. That means you are using energy and paying extra on your bills for appliances you are not even using.
  • When you’re using your hob, it’s good practice to use a lid on your pans. This is because the lid keeps the heat in the pan, where it’s needed, rather than escaping into the air. Your food will cook faster this way, saving energy on your gas or electricity bills.

Cleaning

  • Open your dishwasher door before it starts the drying cycle to air dry your dishes. This can save up to 50% of your dishwasher’s energy.
  • Use a clothes horse instead of drying clothes on radiators. Hanging wet clothes on your radiator makes your boiler work harder, to get your room to your desired temperature. This means it takes longer to heat your home. In turn, this uses more energy to heat your home and costs you more money. That being said, ventilation is crucially important to help prevent health issues. If you can, dry your clothes in a room where you can open a window and close the door on it, to allow the air to circulate freely. If that’s not possible, opening your windows every day for at least fifteen minutes helps fresh air to freely circulate, reducing the chance of dampness occuring.
  • Why you should turn down your hot water thermostat to 60ºC The average boiler hot water thermostat in the UK is set to 65ºC. This is very inefficient and a waste of energy and money. At this temperature, you have to cool the water that you’ve spent money heating to be able to use it. Heat loss from your boiler/hot water cylinder is also increased at this temperature. You can save around £30 a year if you turn your boiler temperature down from 65ºC to 60ºC. Don’t set it below 60ºC though. You need your hot water to be at this heat to kill bacteria associated with Legionnaires’ Disease. This is a potentially fatal lung infection spread through the inhalation of water bourne particles.

Ways to Save In Your Living Room

living room with grey sofa, cream rug and plants

Looking for easy ways to save energy in your living room? I’ve got heaps of ideas for you:

  • Rearrange your furniture. Yes, really! If your sofa or any other bulky item of furniture is in front of your radiator then it will absorb a high percentage of the heat being emitted from your radiator.  This means you’ll have to run your heating for longer for your room to warm up.  Moving your sofa allows heat to circulate freely.
  • Why you should turn the brightness down on your TV. When TV sets are packaged for sale or display, they are set at much higher levels of brightness and contrast than really necessary. Manufacturers do this bit of trickery so the screens look all bright and jazzy in illuminated shop displays. However, the default brightness settings are too bright for most living rooms. Increased brightness and contrast on your TV means increased power consumption. By turning down the brightness this saves a surprising amount of energy.
  • Why it’s a good idea to get into the practice of charging your mobile phone during the day. Did you know that to charge an iPhone, it takes under an hour for a flat battery to reach 80% battery levels? Then it takes another 60 to 90 minutes to reach 100%. That’s 1.5 hours maximum, to recharge your phone’s battery. But if you sleep for around 8 hours on a good night, you are using 6.5 hours of extra power that doesn’t need to be used.  Leaving your phone on charge when it’s fully charged can also decrease the battery’s lifespan.
  • Finally, now that is is getting darker, here’s why you should close your curtains at dusk (and open them again as soon as you get up).

Have you got any easy ways to save energy?  Share with other readers in the comments below!

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

How To Get Your Home Ready for Winter

get your house ready for winter

Looking to get your home ready for winter? I’ve got a heap of ideas for you to keep warm and save money on energy bills.

To capitalise on a popular phrase – winter is coming! It’s always good to be prepared. By getting your home ready for winter, means you’ll be able to save energy all winter long for just some initial elbow-grease. And saving energy means a reduced carbon footprint and more money in your pocket. It’s a win-win all around!

Right now, we’ve been beavering away getting our old house ready for winter.

How To Get Your Home Ready For Winter

If you are looking to do the same, here are ten easy ideas for you on how to get your home ready for the cold months ahead.

how to get your home ready for winter

Seal Up The Cracks

Cracks and gaps can let in a tremendous amount of cold air. And likewise, they can suck warm air out of your home.

Our backdoor is the original wooden door that was installed when our house was built 100 years ago.  Over the years it has been sanded down and sanded down. It’s at the point where there are some pretty big gaps where the cold wind just howls through.  When funds allow we will replace the door.  For now, I opt for the budget-friendly option of sealing the gaps as best we can.

A couple of years ago I bought some draught proofing strips from eBay. These really stopped the cold wind coming through.  Sadly, over the summer, when the back door was constantly open my cheeky toddler peeled all the strips off. Therefore, draught-proofing is on the top of my winterise my home to-do list!  Hopefully, by next summer we’ll be over the curious toddler stage and we won’t need to replace the strips until we replace the door.

We also noticed that the keyhole let in a lot of cold air. As such, we opted for the very budget-friendly method of gaffer taping the keyhole on the outside of the door. We only use the door to access the garden, not to gain access to our house, so this works for us. However, there are prettier and more practical options out there online and in your local DIY store if you’re in a similar position.

Insulate Your Garden Tap

Got a garden tap?  Before the first frost, it’s a good idea to shut the water supply off to your garden tap, if you can. This will help to avoid the pipe freezing and potentially bursting.  If you can’t shut the water supply off to the tap then you can insulate the garden tap.

For insulating the garden tap we go down the cheap and cheerful route of recycling bubble wrap that comes into our house.  Wrapping a thick layer of bubble wrap over the tap and securing it with tape has done the trick for us at zero cost.  Again, if you’re looking for a more attractive finish then there are products you can buy that do the same job.

Order Fire Wood

If you have a wood-burning stove then now is a good time to stock up on fire wood. We got our first delivery of the season last week. I have now come to appreciate that there are few things as satisfying as a fully stocked woodshed.  Stacking the woodshed? Not so satisfying.

Get Your Chimney Swept

Getting your chimney swept is a really good idea to help keep a good draw on your chimney, and to help avoid chimney fires.

We use a professional chimney sweeping service once a year, and surprisingly there is zero mess involved.  A man comes with an industrial vacuum cleaner, pops a sheet down, and sticks various brushes up the chimney until all the debris is cleared.  The job is done in about 45 minutes, and he even gives us a certificate for our home insurance company.  Some insurance companies can refuse to payout in the event of a fire if you have a functioning fire but don’t regularly clean it so this is a reassuring touch.

get your home ready for winter

Clear Your Gutters

Clearing your gutters is an oddly satisfying job. It’s always surprising the amount of moss, leaves, and other debris that can gather in there over autumn.  If your gutter blocs and overflows it can cause leaks in your home and other untold damage

Repairing Cracks in the Mortar

Cracks in the mortar can let dampness and cold in.  Not only that, pre-existing cracks can be made a lot worse if water gets in and then freezes.  Needless to say, it’s a good idea to spend an hour or two repairing any cracks.  We did this ourselves this year. We bought a mortar repair kit from the hardware shop, followed the mixing instructions, and went for it.  As a handy tip – it’s a good idea to have a pair of latex or rubber gloves on to help apply the mortar neatly.

Get Your Boiler Serviced

Winter is a busy season for boiler repair tradespeople.  We got ours serviced early on in this month to beat the rush, so I’d recommend booking in a service ASAP.  A service can allow you to diagnose faults and get them repaired before your boiler breaks,  and to keep it in tip-top running condition over winter.

If your boiler is on it’s last legs it might be wise replacing it sooner rather than later, to avoid being left without heating or hot water over the coldest part of the year.  If the idea of getting multiple tradespeople out to give you quotes gives you the fear, then you can

Bleed Your Radiators

Bleeding your radiators might be one of those tasks that you always relegate to the bottom of your to-do list but it’s a pretty important one on your get your home ready for winter to-do list.  Here’s a quick video guide on how to bleed radiators if you haven’t done it before.

Line The Back of Your Radiators

Walls are pretty good at absorbing heat. The thing is you want that heat going into your room, not the walls.  To prevent this you can buy radiator lining foil.

It’s really simple to install. Simply cut the foil to size, and place down the back of your radiator.  You can’t see it once it’s in place, but it does help reflect the heat from your radiators into your room rather than being absorbed into the wall.  The foil is pretty cheap from any DIY store, and soon pays for itself in the form of lower gas bills.

Wash Your Windows

In autumn I like to give my windows a good wash, inside and out, to help maximise solar gain.  Dirty windows significantly lower the amount of light that fills your room on winter days. Therefore keeping your windows clean is a good step to let as much light as possible in.

What do you do to get your home ready for winter?  Any winterising tips I’ve missed?