Tag

energy efficiency

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 energy price cap rise taking effect from Friday 1st April 2022, millions of householders across the UK are set to see their electricity and gas prices soar. It’s estimated that household energy bills will rise by a massive £700 a year.

At a time when many householders have had their finances battered by the ongoing economic effects of the pandemic, it’s poor timing. Petrol and gas costs are rising, along with food price rises which are stretching already stretched household budgets. 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 10 years here at Moral Fibres, and in that time I’ve covered a whole range of easy energy-saving tips. In my 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 involves 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 of 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 are some clever tips to pack your fridge and freezer efficiently – from filling water bottles and reusing styrofoam packing blocks to keep your bills down.
  • In 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 occurring.
  • 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. Turning down the brightness 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, 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!

What To Do If You Are Struggling To Pay Your Bills

Remember, if you are struggling with your energy bills, do seek help. Speak to your supplier first – some energy suppliers offer hardship funds that you can access. Citizens Advice have details on grants and benefits that might be available to you to help you pay your energy bills too. And you can also contact your local council. In the Spring Budget, it was announced that local councils would receive additional funding to help support those struggling with the costs of living. None of this is nowhere near enough, but after the incredibly disappointing Spring Budget, I desperately hope that some of this can help.

Energy Saving, Home and Garden

How To Save Fuel While Driving – 10 Easy Tips

With fuel prices exponentially rising, we are all looking to save money and fuel. Try these 10 easy tried and tested tips on how to save fuel while driving to see how many more miles to the gallon you can get.

A couple of years ago I took an hour-long fuel-efficient driver training course. It had been two decades since I sat my driving test, and I remember I was so nervous about having someone sit in the passenger seat and judge my driving.

As I got in the car, my palms felt sweaty and my heart raced. I was certain the driving instructor was going to scold me for crossing my hands on the steering wheel. Or, my worst nightmare, ask me to parallel park in a tight spot on a busy street.

It turned out there was no judging and no tricky manoeuvres. Instead, we drove a circuit, whilst James, my friendly instructor, kindly pointed out some simple tweaks to my driving style, that could help improve my car’s miles to the gallon. I then completed the circuit again. When the hour was up, James calculated that I could save around 15% fuel from doing what I doing, just a little more efficiently.

The tips stayed with me, and I’ve certainly put them to good use. However, I never knew exactly how beneficial the course was, until, the end of last year. We bought a ‘new’ secondhand car. The dashboard displays how many miles to the gallon you currently get, based on your driving. Right now I’m getting 4.7 more miles to the gallon than the previous owner. If petrol prices do reach £2.50 per litre, then that’s some serious savings.

How To Save Fuel While Driving

Image of an open road, with a blue text box that says how to save fuel while driving

It goes without saying that the best way to save fuel is to avoid using your car when you don’t need to.

However, for journeys that you do need to make by car then adopting some fuel-saving techniques can help save you a considerable sum of money. In turn, it helps the environment too.

If you don’t have a fuel-efficient driving instructor, like James near you, that can teach you the fuel-efficient driving basics face-to-face, then all is not lost. Here are my easy tried and tested tips on how to save fuel whilst driving. These have helped, and continue to help me save big time.

1. Avoid Carrying Unnecessary Items or Loads

Are you the kind of person who drives around with a boot full of bottles, to go to the bottle bank, yet you keep forgetting to deposit them? Or a boot full of items for the recycling centre or charity shop, but you never actually get round to going? Or maybe, you are a golfer and you keep a set of golf clubs in the boot on the very off chance of an impromptu round of golf?

If you can relate, then perhaps it is time to rethink your ways. This is because anything that adds to the weight of your car will increase fuel consumption. Simply avoiding carrying unnecessary loads when you don’t need to will really help you to save fuel when driving, without even noticing.

2. Remove Unneccessary Hardware From Your Car

In a similar vein, you should remove any roof racks, roof boxes, and bike carriers from your car when they are not in use. This is because these types of hardware significantly increase air resistance, particularly when you are driving at higher speeds. This in turn increases your fuel consumption. Taking these things off your car once you are done with them can be fiddly. Yet the amount of fuel you can save by doing so is not to be sniffed at.

3. Check Your Tyre Pressure Regularly

Checking your tyre pressure regularly is a good habit to get into. This is because as well as being a safety hazard, underinflated tyres create more rolling resistance. More energy is required to overcome this rolling resistance. This, in turn, means more petrol or diesel is needed by your car.

Always check your tyre pressure with a gauge to ensure it is around the tyre pressure level indicated by your car’s manufacturer. A tyre with 25% of the air let out of it looks like a fully inflated tyre, so never trust your eyes.

Overinflating your tyres does not improve your car’s fuel efficiency, so don’t be tempted to overinflate. Stick to the guidelines, and you will save fuel whilst driving, without compromising your safety.

4. Drive Smoothly To Save Fuel

a car using eco driving techniques

Have you ever been a passenger in a car, where the driver zooms up at high speed to the traffic lights that are clearly going to turn red? The driver then has to come to a very abrupt halt.

I know I have. And whilst it’s not a great driving experience for passengers, it’s even worse for your fuel economy. This is because any unnecessary braking and acceleration all increase your fuel usage.

Instead, adopting a smoother driving technique is the way to go. As well as saving fuel when you are driving, it’s also a much less stressful style of driving.

To drive more smoothly, it’s simply a case of anticipating situations and other road users as far ahead as possible to help avoid any unnecessary braking and acceleration. So, for example, if a pedestrian is waiting at traffic lights to cross, it’s likely the lights might turn red. Ease off the accelerator a little, so that if you do have to stop, you will require less braking. As I have seen, little tweaks like this can make a big difference to your fuel economy.

Meanwhile, keeping a good distance from the car in front of you also helps you to save fuel. This is because you can ease off the accelerator to control your speed when necessary, rather than having to press on the brakes.

5. Don’t Linger In Lower Gears

Lingering in lower gears is one surefire way to unnecessarily use up a lot of petrol or diesel. This is because when you drive at high revs per minute (RPM), your car engine works much harder than it needs to.

To save fuel when driving, instead, when you are accelerating, shift up to a higher gear as early as possible. Aim to be driving at no more than 2,000 to 2,500 RPM before moving up a gear. It is also fuel-efficient to skip gears. So, depending on the speed you are planning to drive at, when you are accelerating you could skip from 3rd directly to 5th gear, to avoid sitting unnecessarily in 4th gear.

6. The Accelerator Isn’t Always Your Fuel Saving Friend

One of my favourite ways to save fuel is to simply ease off the accelerator. If you are driving downhill, you can remain in gear, but ease right off the accelerator as soon as you start going down the hill.

It’s a particularly good technique if you are driving in a 20 or 30 mph zone. This is because it avoids having to unnecessarily use the brake to stay within the speed limit. However, even on higher speed roads, if you have been driving at speed then your car should have enough momentum to get down the hill at a decent speed without using any fuel.

Remember, never coast down a hill in neutral. This is against the Highway Code because coasting can affect the steering and control of your vehicle.

Similarly, driving at excessively high speeds also increases your car’s fuel consumption. Drag resistance increases dramatically at high speed. Research by the Department for Transport showed that for a typical modern car, fuel consumption increases by around 14.9% between 60 and 75mph. This figure is double for vans. And driving at 80 mph, whilst also illegal, can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.

Taking it easy on the accelerator means your wallet takes it easy too.

7. Don’t Be A Fan of Air Conditioning

When it comes to the bells and whistles of your car, air conditioning is probably the highest consumer of fuel. In fact, running your air conditioning could increase your fuel usage by as much as 10%.

While it probably isn’t practical to stop using your air conditioning, consider where you might be able to use it more sparingly. On hot days, parking in shaded spots for example could help keep your car naturally cooler. Meanwhile, opening a window when driving at lower speeds could help to keep your car cool without any impact on your fuel use.

8. Close Your Windows At High Speed

When driving in areas with a lower speed limit, it is more fuel-efficient to keep your cool by opening your windows. However, the opposite is true at high speeds. Keeping your windows open when driving at high speed on dual carriages or motorways, in particular, creates resistance. This is because an open window, even if it is just slightly open, adversely affects the aerodynamics of your car. The engine, therefore, has to burn significantly more fuel to overcome this resistance.

On a hot day, it’s, therefore, better to use the air conditioning to keep cool when driving at high speed. When you drive on to a slower road, you can then turn off the air-con, and crank open that window to help save fuel.

9. Save Fuel By Avoiding Idling

One no-brainer to save fuel is to turn off your engine when you are not driving. Avoiding idling when you expect to be stationary for more than 30 seconds, helps to improve air quality for everyone. It also stops your car from burning through fuel when you are not in motion.

10. Reverse Into Parking Spaces

Finally, my last tip to help you save fuel when you are driving is to try to reverse into parking spaces at the end of your journey, where possible. This is because a cold car engine consumes substantially more petrol than a hot engine, where the petrol is mixed with more air.

Reversing into the space at the end of your journey, on a warm engine, uses only minute amounts of fuel. Meanwhile, reversing on a cold engine is significantly more fuel-intensive. Leaving the car pointing the right way for its next journey significantly cuts fuel consumption, because setting off straight on a cold engine is much less work for the car’s engine.

Got any more fuel-saving tips? I am all ears! And if you are looking to save money on your heating costs too, then here are my easy ways to save energy and money in the home.