As we all know, the cost of heating your home is pretty horrible at the moment, and we know this is going to get worse as the year continues, but there are ways to reduce the cost of heating your home, and here are my top 10 ideas...
1. Lower the temperature on your boiler as most boilers have a pre-set temperature, which may not be the most cost-effective solution for you, so check what the heating and water temperatures are set to, and make sure you change them to:
If you have a combi boiler, set your flow temperature to 50c for heating and 55c for hot water – it's potentially going to take a little longer to heat up if you need to turn up the heating as it's a chilly day, but the gas and CO2 savings make it worthwhile.
If you have a boiler and a hot water cylinder, set the flow temperature on your boiler to a few degrees over 60c for heating and hot water, and setting your hot water cylinder to 60c. Don't go lower than 60 to stop bacteria like legionella from multiplying, which isn't relevant for combi boilers, as it doesn't store water.
The saving on your gas for reducing the temperature is around 8%, which is a decent saving!
People I have spoken to have said that surely the water will be too cold if you turn it down. Still, the best way to check is to run your shower without turning on the cold water, and if it feels really hot, and you would typically instinctively add cold water by reducing the temperature via the dial, then your water is too hot! The turning of the dial adds (mixes) cold water into the stream of hot water to lower the temperature, meaning that you have had to reduce the temperature of the water as the boiler has heated the water to a temperature that you can't stand to be subjected to, which is a sign that you can reduce the temperature of the water!
You can always play around with the temperature to see what works best for you, but any reduction, even 1 degree, WILL save you money; it's that simple!
2. Use cold water for washing your hands. It’s the soap that kills the bacteria, not the hot water, so you can save the cost of heating the water!
3. Wash your clothes at a lower temperature in your washing machine. 30 is plenty for most clothes; you don't need to wash at 40 or higher. Many washing machines are cold fill, which means it takes in cold water and has to heat it to get to the temperature you have selected when choosing the programme. It takes a lot of energy to heat the water, so the lower the temperature, the less energy needed to run the machine.
Set your washing machine/dishwasher to run its programme overnight, as energy is cheaper when everyone's in bed! Most machines have a time delay function, so you use that to have the appliance turn on in the early morning, so it's still finished when you may need it in the morning but has cost you less to run. It's not recommended to run your tumble dryer at night for safety reasons; you want to run that when someone is around; if there is an issue, it's best everyone isn't asleep and can be aware of a problem. I know that sounds alarmist, but it's from experience in my earlier years that happened to my bosses parents, and it could have ended very badly, so I never leave the tumble dryer on when I'm not about!
4. Talking of tumble dryers, if you can use an air dryer rather than a tumble dryer, you will notice a saving of a good £40+ per year!
5. When you replace a lightbulb, go for an LED bulb if your budget allows. They have dropped in price these days, and they last far longer than a standard bulb and are up to 90% more energy-efficient. They will pay for themselves pretty quickly!
6. Turn off the lights when not in use! My dad always said it to me, and as a kid, and needless to say, I wasn't that bothered, but now I pay the electricity bill, and I do my best to drill it into my family, that turning off a light when you leave the room will save money, and is more energy-efficient! It's suggested that the average family can save around £20 a year just by turning off the lights, and the more lights you have, the more significant the saving!
You can always use a timer to turn off lights at certain times of the day to ensure they are off. I use Smart power switches, which I control via an app (Kasa), which allows me to monitor what lights are on, and this will enable me to turn lights on and off from anywhere in the world! Please read my blog post, which talks about Equiwatt, an energy-saving app that pays you to turn off nominated electrical appliances for up to an hour during special Equivent events; it's made me several hundred pounds over the last two years!
7. Turn equipment off standby! I know it's easier just to hit the standby button on the TV, but you could save £30+ a year by properly turning off appliances, so it's worth the extra 5 seconds turning it off properly!
8. Invest in a service such as Hive, if you can, as this has saved me a lot of money over the last three years as it's a device that connects to your boiler and allows you to change the temperature of the heating, using an app, or using the control unit, with the click of a button.
What I've found to be really handy is that you set temperature limits, so you aren't overheating your house, and most importantly, it can be controlled from anywhere, as it's connected to your internet connection, so you can keep your heating off during the day, or when nobody is at home, and then manually turn it on before you get home, so you aren't heating an empty house, but get home to warmth, which is super helpful! It also sends you reports about your home heating, allowing you to see when it's being used the most, compared to last month's usage, so you can see if you can make changes to reduce your consumption. You can read more about Hive in a previous blog post. If you are lucky enough to have either a wood fire or food-fired heating system, then it always pays to have a decent and reliable supplier of firewood that can keep you supplied with quality and properly stored wood to make sure you're getting the best results.
8. Take a shower instead of a bath if you can, as you use less water, so reduce the amount you are spending on heating the water, plus the amount of water you are using, which is super helpful if you are on a water meter! You may also be able to get free water-saving devices from your water supplier to reduce your water consumption, which I've written about previously HERE
9. Don't overfill your kettle! If you are making a cup of tea, you don't need to fill the kettle up; it wastes water and costs more to heat up. If you aren't sure how much water you need, measure out the water in the cup you are going to drink from, as that way you should get the correct amount of water.
10. Check your meter readings. You may find your meter readings are estimated and not as accurate as sending a meter reading to your supplier; therefore, you may be paying more than you need to.
It's worth mentioning that your estimate may be under what you are using. It's tempting to ignore that and just pay your bill, but beware, you will very likely find that a meter reading gets taken by the supplier at some point, and you will then receive an adjusted bill for the excess energy used and being that prices are going up, this could be substantial.
Therefore, send the reading over and pay what's owed now rather than running into financial issues later on. I'm aware of many people who have had bills of several thousand pounds hit the doormat, as they didn't send a reading over and hoped it wouldn't be noticed, and it's not a good position to be in.
If you are struggling with your energy bills, don't bury your head in the sand (Yup, I've been there, and it's not good for your wallet or your mental health), and get in contact with a dedicated energy helpline for those people who can't afford their bill, Simply Energy Advice is a decent one, and they offer impartial advice, plus their website gives extra information on schemes such as Winter Fuel Payments, Warm Home Discount and Cold Weather Payments, plus info on grants and other helpful advice.
For general debt related advice, organisations such as Citizens Advice, Stepchange, National Debt Line and Christians Against Poverty all give good advice, but what I would say is to explore all your options before agreeing to set up an IVA or Bankruptcy petition as they have long-reaching implications and should always be an absolute last resort, (And yes I know as I've previously had to file for bankruptcy, and four years on, I'm still dealing with the financial repercussions, which is a blog post that I need to write soon!)