Am I doing something wrong (laundry related!)

(154 Posts)
alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 09:44:59

Trying to cut down on our mega combined fuel bills of almost £200 p/m for a three bed terraced house. (trying to cut down/save money in all ways really, but thats fodder for another thread I think!). Several friends have commented that I seem to do a lot of laundry; I estimate for a household of me, DH, DD(4) and DS(1) I seem to do probably on average 3 or 4 loads a day. I don't think I over-launder, but friends with similar households all seem to say they only do one or maybe two loads max. Heres what I seem to do in a week and in () the loads of washing it creates:

Bedding for our bed, daughters bed, cot. One bed change a week each. (3)
DS's Grobags, prob has a clean one every third night, totalling (1) per week.
Bathsheet and towel each for me and DH, bath towel each for DC's, bathmat. Change weekly (3). Handtowels for both loo's I change twice a week, teatowels prob three a week, so totalling (1). Swimming once a week so 4 lots of swimwear, two grown up towels, two small towels (2).
PJ's and vest for baby (clean every day, so 7 lots) and PJ's for daughter who invariably gets breakfast down hers and it's rare she doesn't have a clean pair most nights, totalling (2). DS's daytime clothes, plus the invariable changes due to leaked nappy, spilt food, bibs etc (1). DD's non-uniform clothes, if shes going to play somewhere after school, weekend wear etc (1)
5 work shirts for DH, 5 t-shirts he wears under work shirts (cold office!) (1)
DD's school uniform, polo shirt, skirt, tights, vest, cardigan. Rarely a day passes where I don't need to wash the whole lot. She's only little and gets lunch on herself, or glue, snot, paint, etc! probably (2) a week although I do have to wash her burgundy cardis seperately as they run.
My work clothes, I have a clean top/blouse every day and try to make trousers last two days, so would guess (1) total a week
non-work clothes for me (wear two nights running, jeans and top for example), weekend clothes, and same for DH (2). PJ's for me, again I invariably end up with baby breakfast and am a bit fussy and change every second night. DH's PJ's once a week so (1). DH is also going a lot of work on the house and garden, and I seem to get a load of work clothes at the end of the weekend too (1)

So thats 21 loads, before anything "incidental" happens - bed accident (rare, but still occasional), changing cot sheets daily when baby has a snotty cold, someones coat needs a wash through, washable sofa covers if something gets spilt, matress covers need a wash, etc, etc.

I wash everything on a 30 minute fast wash where possible. I use a 40 degree slightly longer wash for bedding and towels, and do an extra 10 minute 1600 spin to get them as dry as possible.

And I know I'm a bandit for doing it, but 80% of all the above goes through the dryer too - so therein lies my theory that a significant portion of our fuel costs derive from the above! The dryer is often on for 2+ hours a day.

I'm tight as a wedge with the heating so don't want to start drying stuff on the radiators. Do heated airers work? I don't want another outlay of £30 odd when I really can't afford it unless I will be able to recoup that relatively quickly.

There must be something I can do to cut this back or significantly save money. Anyone got any bright ideas?

vodkaanddietirnbru Thu 25-Oct-12 09:56:25

how big is your machine? - some of your loads seem quite small e.g. I have a 6kg machine and can fit 3 big bath towels and hand towels in one load. I can also fit all of dd/ds's school clothes into 1 load (skirts, trousers and polo shirts). Do you do mixed loads with yours and the kids stuff e.g. if the machine isnt full enough with the clothes from me/dh then I'll add in some of the kids stuff to make sure I am doing a full load. I do proper longer washes too as clothes dont always come clean with the shorter cycles and then you have clothes to rewash.

I also dont do a bed change for all of us every week (normally every couple of weeks). Grobags never got changed until they were dirty/been puked or peed on.

I do quite lot of washing too as dh goes to the gym 4 mornings a week, I do exercise classes 3 mornings a week and dh also plays football 2 evenings a week and I have his work stuff to wash plus the kids school stuff. I dont tumble dry though unless I have seriously run out of space to hang stuff and use 2 clothes airers (not heated) instead.

SoggySummer Thu 25-Oct-12 09:56:49

I am watching this with interest as we seem to have a stupid amount of laundry in this house too.

Its towels with us. Dont know what it is with my disgusting family but I seem to be the only one who actually hangs a towel up so it can air after use. The best the rest of the family manage is a screwed up mass more less balancing in the towel rail which then goes fousty smelling and icky in a day or 2. No matter how much I explain, ask etc - I come home to this most days. Most of my washing is towels which are a nightmare to dry.

One place I really think you could cur down is with the tumble drying tbh. I generally air all my washing even on the line or on a clothes horse before I tumble.

Even yesterday ( a very dull and dark day) I put a kingsize duvet and 3 bathsheets on the line at mid day and when I got them in at 5.40pm (was home a bit later than planned) they were significantly lighter and drier than when I put them out. I dont like towels dried in the house as they go a bit cardboard so they went in the tumbler straight away but the bedding I left on a clothes horse overnight and will pop that in the tumbler later this morning to finish off. I do hate having washing hanging around and am lucky to make use of a spare room I can shut the door on when I do this. I so this even whenI dont have the heat on - last night I had it on for an hour but even when I dont the washing still seems to dry a little.

Only on wet weekends when the turnaround with games kit and uniforms etc do I ever go straight from washer to tumbler.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 09:57:08

You seem to wash some of your things less frequently than I do, but I don't do 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day confused

You do need to stop using the dryer so much, though. I use mine for bath towels (handtowels and teatowels go on the airer), bedding, shirts (because I am too lazy to iron anything) and jeans. Everything else gets hung on the airer (non-heated) or on hangers in doorways. It's always dry within 24 hours and never smells damp (and I'm weird about how my laundry smells, so I'd definitely know if it did).

I have the heating on for 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening if it's cold enough for it to come on (thermostat on about 17C). I dry thick things like hoodies on the radiators.

I would like a heated airer, and think that the outlay would be worth it for you.

My combined gas/electric bill is under £100/month, and that's for me, DP, DS(13) and DD(11). And I'm really not tight with it.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:07:12

I don't knows much about tumble dryers as I don't have one, but I have heard they're expensive - don't know if they're more expensive than heating but at least if you've got the heating on you'd be warm as well, and 2+ hours is enough to pretty much dry a load of washing if you put it on an airer in a room with heating on. Also, I agree with SoggySummer that even on cold days it's worth hanging the washing out, especially if there's a bit of wind - it's still drier than when it's taken out of the machine. Also, as long as there's no rain I sometimes hang mine out at night - honestly, it works!

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 10:08:03

Being honest the dryer ends up being used because of space - I don't have a spare room to air stuff in, only the dining room which is closed off and the radiator switch off anyway. I wonder if it's more effiicient to have the radiator on and dry the washing there, or have it off and use the dryer? Even so that one radiator wouldn't dry much, which is why I thought about putting a heated airer in there. I can't use the kitchen radiator as the kitchen is the coldest room in the house and I don't want to block the heat. Heating is currently only on for 2 hours a day, although more over this weekend as its looking colder.

I do combine things, yes. I think maybe is hold stop being a stickler for always having an empty basket. Perhaps if I waited a few more days, i could combine more / cram in more! My machine is a 7kg load but I'm never really sure when it's properly full and my mother is always commenting how you should never overfill it as it'll knacker it! I'd guess two big bath sheets and a hand towel would be a full load to me.....

Then of course there is the laundry powder too. I use a 25 load box each week, plus a big fabric softener (always use more than the stated amount as otherwise I don't think it smells nice, bad habit I know) and therefore I suspect laundry 'goods' are costing another £9 a week odd!!!!

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 10:08:42

Might restrict the dryer for the whole of November and see how that makes a difference..... We have an energy monitor so it should be visible.....

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 10:09:46

.....also its the ironing thing. I save sooooooo much time not ironing (time I don't have!) by folding things straight out of the dryer?!

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:11:32

2 bath sheets and a hand towel is NOT a full load!

notcitrus Thu 25-Oct-12 10:16:58

Keep putting more stuff in your loads - if you get a load out that doesn't smell quite so fresh, then you know it was too full - not the end of the world.
For reference, can't get kingsize duvet cover and sheet in at the same time, but one can easily go in with four pillowcases, toddler sheet and a couple grobags and hankies.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:17:07

I only do the towels every two weeks. I mean, I change them between that, and make sure they're dry when I put them in the laundry basket, and then bung them all in together when there aren't any clean ones left. I get loads in. And they're definitely clean because (I am proud of this even though it's a little sad) friends have often commented on how white they are.

MrsBungleBear Thu 25-Oct-12 10:17:57

2 bath sheets and a towel is no where near a full 7kg machine load.

My dc are the same age as yours and I wash about 3 or 4 times a week. Often less. Gro bags only washed when dirty, same with baby vests etc.

I don't have a drier. Everything Hung on a non heated clothes horse which is next to a radiator.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:22:28

You can't get a king sized duvet cover in the machine along with a sheet? My entire bedding set (2 pillow cases, king sized duvet cover, double fitted sheet) is a load in my 6kg machine.

vodkaanddietirnbru Thu 25-Oct-12 10:23:50

A full load is where it is full enough that you are left with a hand space (hand turned on its side with thumb at the top) from the top of the clothes to the drum. I tend to do a few loads one day and then none or only 1 the next day (gives the other stuff time to dry)

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:26:19

I haven't got a king size bed but I easily fit a duvet, sheet and two pillow cases in mine. No idea what size the machine is though but it is however a very old basic one (so old that it doesn't even have a 30 degree wash option on it).

forevergreek Thu 25-Oct-12 10:28:24

We do at less than that

How big is your washing machine?

We do approx:
1 load with towels
2 loads with bedding
1 white wash
1 dark wash

That's in a week, so 5 washes? Do bedding and towels on a sat usually, and clothes random evening when full, so only 2-3 days we actually wash

Adults- no pjs
Kids- 1-2 pairs of pjs a week

Cot bed sheets, kids duvet cover, 1 gro bag, pillow cases fit in one load easily.

Tea towels etc just go in with towels

Can you daughter wear a bib or something to stop breakfast on pjs every day? Ikea do nice wipe able ones

Floralnomad Thu 25-Oct-12 10:28:27

You are definitely not doing big enough loads . Are your tumble dryer and washing machine energy efficient as I do more washing than you and run a tumble dryer for a few hours 4/5 times a week and my bills aren't that high .

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 10:28:46

Duvet cover I mean, not duvet. I don't live in a launderette.

nbee84 Thu 25-Oct-12 10:31:25

You should fill the drum of the washing machine with the items and when you put your hand into to the top you should be able to press them down to about 3/4 height easily. If you have stuffed the items in and cannot push down in them easily then you have put too much in. Don't forget when the water goes in they compress down.

Another way to check is to bundle up your washing so that you can pick it all up at once - then weigh yourself without the washing, then again with and you'll be able to see how much you've got. 7kg is quite a big capacity.

From the Which website;

6kg machine
6 small towels
2 pillowcases
6 T-shirts
2 sheets
2 pairs of jeans
14 socks

7.5kg machine
6 small towels
2 pillowcases
10 T-shirts
2 sheets
4 pairs of jeans
14 socks

Iggly Thu 25-Oct-12 10:32:48

3-4 loads a day!!

And over using laundry powder hmm you can't smell it because your nose gets used to it so you use more... Best thing to do is switch scents or brands every few weeks or so, then the smell is new and you use less.

Combine loads more. Get over the empty basket thing.

Fist your machine to check if full. Ie can you fit your fist in, then it's not over loaded.

marquesas Thu 25-Oct-12 10:35:30

Your list was a bit long for me to take in but there's no way that a family of 4 needs to be doing 3 loads a day. I couldn't find that much to wash unless I did all the bedding every single day.

I have a load on at the moment which includes a king size duver cover, a bottom sheet, a mattrass protector sheet and pjs and some others mall items. afaik my machine is 6kg - is there a reason you can't put more things in your machine.

Am I understanding correctly that you wash 2 grobags per week and that's a whole load?

In the nicest possible way, lighten up a bit and stuff a bit more in each time and you'll be able to cut the loads in half.

Iggly Thu 25-Oct-12 10:36:01

Also use your rumble dryer more cleverly - things that take longer to dry (towels and jeans) will obviously need a longer tumble. So take out the other lighter stuff and it will be dry first then tumble the towels etc.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:36:46

"Fist your machine"


Naghoul Thu 25-Oct-12 10:37:36

I wash the same amount of stuff as you, but I pack it into 6-8 loads a week.

I thought you were going to be one of those people who washes a towel everytime someone dries their arse grin

Thelobsterswife Thu 25-Oct-12 10:38:02

Your loads aren't big enough as others have said. Other than the school cardigans (my DDs also run) colour catchers are great for doing a big load of mixed colours and in the main, prevent colour runs. If you have banisters on a landing upstairs, they are fab for draping towels and sheets over to dry them. My tumble dryer broke and I hate not tumbling towels but you can buy towel softener to use instead of fabric conditioner which helps a little. I have a heated airer that I love but I am not convinced it is that much cheaper. I think I remember PigletJohn saying the most efficient way to dry clothes is to put them in a room with an airer in and with an extractor fan on if you have one in your bathroom. I know some people use dehumidifers to the same affect. Your bills are very high. My three bed semi was about half that, albeit a new build and therefore presumably more energy efficient.

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 10:42:06

I thought you were going to be one of those people who washes a towel everytime someone dries their arse

I am one of those people and I still only do probably 1 load of washing a day.

nbee84 Thu 25-Oct-12 10:45:15

Lobster - I think some of the heated airers are very cheap to run. This one says 5p per hour and others I have seen usually state the costs are equivalent to a lightbulb switched on. The extractor fan in my bathroom only runs with the light switched on so is actually using more electricity than just a lightbulb on it's own would.

raindroprhyme Thu 25-Oct-12 10:46:15

what size is a small towel?

we have 5 of us, plus swimming and rugby 3 times a week. and some one at the gym every day.

i do 1 load a day and then 2 saturday 2 sunday for towels bed clothes which generally get changed every 2 weeks.

everyone has a large washing basket in their room which are never empty and anythign they want washed immediatly goes in the machin as they take it off so is combined in that days load

i have strarted using the scoop from the vanish oxi tub as my washing powder scoop so i am not tempted to use too much powder and i have a ceiling airer and tumble dryer.

We are a family of 4, I probably do 5 or 6 loads of clothes a week plus one of sheets, one of towels and one of the DCs sheets every other week. I think I do more than I need to, the DCs clothes often go in when they aren't really dirty.

All those swimming towels don't need to be washed every time, either take the ones you are using that week from the bathroom or dry and save the swimming ones for next week. We have a 7kg machine and For a towel load there are usually two bathmats, two bath sheets, various small handtowels, a couple of tea towels and a few e-cloths. For bedding, a kingsize duvet cover, fitted sheet and 4 pillowcases easily fits in with probably a couple of hand towels and tea towels as well. Clothes I do one lot of whites, one lot of reds/pinks and 3 or 4 lots of other mixed colours.

Also, I use tablets instead of powder, only use one per wash instead of two and never use fabric conditioner (can't stand the smell, obviously we differ on that).

Naghoul Thu 25-Oct-12 10:53:07

<wonders if I should buy special small arse-only towels> grin

Iggly Thu 25-Oct-12 11:03:18

grin Toby, I got that from another MNer <what a surprise>

MrsHoarder Thu 25-Oct-12 11:12:25

We are a family of 3, and I run the machine once most days.

That day I decide whether I need to do a darks or whites wash (yes, my washing machine is clearly racist), then everything that isn't woolens or bedding goes in that wash. I never have a backlog and throw towels, gro bag etc in whn there's space. If its not raining washing goes on the line if its nice enough to dry completely in the day or on the decking on airers (for easier moving in and out). It has to be an exceptionally messy wash (poo explosion) for me to use 2 tablets instead of 1.

Drier only used if its raining and never on work clothes (apparently it makes them harder to iron).

MrsHoarder Thu 25-Oct-12 11:14:20

And yes, take your "old" towel swimming and then wash it and get a fresh one for the bathroom. Anything else is madness.

I echo the rest, your loads sound far too small!

Myself and DD (teenage, so adult size clothes) have about 4 washes a week in total (that's 2 each) - you're averaging 7 per person! We seem to change beds/towels about as often as you do.

One thing that I find handy is to buy loads of knickers and socks each. You'll then always have clean kaks/socks, so won't put on a small wash to ensure you have some for the next day, and won't be tempted to use the tumble dryer so often.

I'm in a 3 bed terrace (like you) with no tumble dryer and I dry my clothes on the rads, the upstairs bannisters (4 horizontal planks, they hold a full wash) and in the spare room on a non heated airer (no rad ever switched on in that room. The door is ajar though so fresh air circulates). I also put small things (underwear, tea towels) on one of those octopus things from IKEA - air circulates round them and they dry in a day or so. I also never switch on the rad in the hall - no one is ever in the hall for more than 60 secs!

My electric bill is about £60 pm and oil is about £47 pm so total £107 pm - half of yours (however, I work FT and DD is at secondary school so we are only in the house in mornings and evenings during the week).

I'm also a divil for things like leaving the extractor switched on after I cook - I intend it to be on for 5 mins to get rid of the smells and 30 mins later I remember and run back in to switch it off - so I'm not a poster girl for saving energy. I reckon if you use your energy monitor to find the high energy appliances you could comfortably get your bill down 30-40%. Actually if you do, please come back with your tips!

WitchesTit Thu 25-Oct-12 11:17:47

I have a 7kg washing machine and can get double, single and cot bedding in one load. So one a week.
All towels and bath sheets and mats go in one load. So one a week.
Baby's grow bags go in with his clothes of which I do 2 loads a week.
I do a general clothes wash once a week and DHs and school clothes on a Friday, so that's another 2 a week.
We also have reusable nappies so that's an extra 2 loads a week but they only take up a small amount of space so I usually end up chucking whatever dirty towels are hanging about in too which takes away from the towel only load so then those towels get chucked in with the general wash.
That adds up to 7 loads a week, but I don't have the washing machine running every day so I must be doing more juggling and cramming in than I thought!

The big problem is getting it dry in this weather. It's hanging all round the house and just ends up smelling weird.
A devils own machine, the terible tumble dryer is definitely top of the list grin

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 25-Oct-12 11:22:51

The quick wash often uses more electric than a normal cycle, so a lot of the money is probably going on the washing machine as well as the dryer.

Have you checked to see if you are on the cheapest tariff? we dont have the heating on much but a wash can dry on a clothes horse overnight in this house.

noseymcposey Thu 25-Oct-12 11:27:39

That is an insane amount of washing! I think I do too much and I do about a load a day shock

I would suspect that putting the heating on is cheaper than having the drier on for 2 hours a day. We have the heating on for a couple of hours a day at the moment and have things on radiators and also have three drying racks for hanging things on. I can't swear to that but it might be worth a try.

All our washing goes in different baskets divided into whites, lights, colours, darks and towels and when I have enough for each loads to fill the machine then it goes on whether that means mixing different types of washing.

For example you have 2 loads of washing for your daughters pj's. Even a new pair every day mean that's 7.5 items of 4 year old clothing per wash. I would say if I'm doing a wash for a child I have nearer 20 as a rough guess.

The good news it that you can easily cut your bills just by filling the machine up and also hanging stuff out to dry.

WhinGin Thu 25-Oct-12 11:28:18

To make sure you are filling your machine to capacity you could buy one of those scales for holiday luggage that you hang your suitcase on to weigh it, I picked one up in the supermarket for a couple of pounds, and put your laundry in a bag to weigh it. Until this moment I had never thought of this but as I have no clue how much my washer holds in kgs it is of no use to me grin

TheregoesBod Thu 25-Oct-12 11:28:50

I think the tumble dryer is a big part of your problem. I hang the washing out even on slightly damp dreary days (like today!), then bring it in and tumble dry it just to finish it off. It seems to cut down the time needed in the dryer by 80% (disclaimer -that's a guesstimate, I haven't sat and timed two identical loads!).

Sometimes I would rather hang particulaly thick things over a chair placed by a radiator to finish them off- I figure if I'm going to pay I would rather have the heating on than the dryer!

tugamommy Thu 25-Oct-12 11:36:31

We're a same size family and do 6-7 washes a week.
The only thing I would add is we save loads on detergent by using Eco balls - I reduce the amount of powder to approx half. I bought a 4.5kg of persil for 12 pounds at the beginning of august and We still have maybe 1/5 th left. And We don't use conditioner.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 11:36:35

Okay..... so for November then....

- stuff more in. It's a 12 month old, efficient machine and obviously what I need to do is hold back on automatically trying to clear the laundry basket every day or so and put more in each load.
- slow down and divide out the wet washing into stuff which I can get away with drying on an airer, and stuff like towels which I will still use the dryer for.
-cut back! Eg. Baby has clean vest both at bedtime and in the morning. If he's getting dressed in the morning I'll leave the vest on from the night before (it'll be less hassle too). Try to cut back on DD's PJ's.
-buy a couple more school polo's and cardi's, so I can stave off/save up washes. At the moment she only has two polos and two cardis so I tend to be washing them midweek all the time. I've also twigged that I can possibly find somewhere that sells her polo colour (bright yellow!) without the badge which has to be therefore got from the uniform shop, because on days when she wears a pinafore you can't see the badge anyway?! Cheaper option maybe!

I'll see where this leads us is November. The energy meter is quite good as it allows you to compare months, so we'll see how we get on. Would be nice to be free from constantly doing so much laundry too!

As for the bills, well..... they are still astounding me anyway. We pay £192 on the cheapest possible researched provider and tarrif. We were so concerned we even got someone to check that the meters weren't faulty. I think the problem is also the house - it's a three bed terraced but it's big - 35ft kitchen which is really chilly, 9ft ceilings, etc. Basically a terribly unefficient old house. I have the heating on for 2 hours at the moment, but that will probably go up to 4 hours this weekend. We also light our open fire from 6pm onwards so add on the cost of coal and wood to the above (probably another £20 a month). I still think it's astronomical......

tugamommy Thu 25-Oct-12 11:39:02

Oh and we live in a 4 bed terraced and pay 65 pounds per month for gas+elec.

Woodlands Thu 25-Oct-12 11:42:06

One full load for me is a double duvet cover, two pillowcases, two bath sheets and two hand towels.

We are two adults and one toddler and we do about 3-4 loads a week (though we only change bedding fortnightly, yes, I know we ming). We live in a 2-bed flat and don't have a tumble drier. We have a Lakeland heated airer (which lives in DS's room) which gets a load dry in about 24 hours. We hang other washing on radiators/bannisters even if the heating's not on - it doesn't take too long to dry. This time of year is the hardest, when it's too cold/wet to dry washing outside but yet the heating's not yet on.

tugamommy Thu 25-Oct-12 11:46:01

If your house is that inefficient, have you considered insulating? We did that last year, both loft and walls and it made a huge difference. Cut our spending 30 pounds per month. And we're now warm and comfortable! smile

bbface Thu 25-Oct-12 11:54:50

your loads sound too small, but overwhelmingly it will be the tumble dryer that will be causing the most cost. Try to cut that down, and THEN you will see your bills fall.

PoppyAmex Thu 25-Oct-12 11:55:04

Agree that the main problem seems to be the small loads - I think if you actually use the full capacity of your machine you'll cut the washings by half (at least).

I have a tumble dryer and would never get rid of it, but my Pulley Maid is just one of the best buys ever; efficient, dries things really fast and eco friendly. Might be worth considering?

bbface Thu 25-Oct-12 11:55:44

Woodlands, that strikes me as an enormous load! that would definitely be two loads for me.

TuftyFinch Thu 25-Oct-12 12:02:30

We've got one of those pulley dryers that go on the ceiling. It's at the top of the stairs on the ceiling. It can take an 8kg load and as heat rises it dries relatively quickly and can be folded and put straight away. It keeps it contained to one area.

TuftyFinch Thu 25-Oct-12 12:03:43

X post with poppy who's post was much clearer!

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 12:04:49

That pulleymaid looks brilliant and reminds me of a clothes-drying apparatus that a very handy-with-a-toolbox friend rigged up in a house we lived in - it was enormous but we were in an enormous house so it worked brilliantly - even with four of us we could all get our washing on it, and it was above a radiator so it all dried really quickly. It was kind of like the pulleymaid but it had several levels to it - all suspended from the ceiling but with a rope to pull it down. It really was a work of genius.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 12:08:35

PoppyA - where do you have the pulleymaid? I'm not sure where it would go. Kitchen ceiling is pitched and sloping. Can see how they work though. Quite like the idea!

Tuga - loft already insulated, then double insulated with a ton of crap stored on top of it!!! Can't insulate walls - terraced house and no cavity on the front and rear walls. Kitchen is huge, high ceilings and one wall completely glass (albeit double glazed) which sucks up a lot of the heat.

Going to dig out the clothes horse when I get home!

NewNames Thu 25-Oct-12 12:11:09

Yikes. Do you guys have jobs? How on earth do you find the time to do so much washing? And more to the point, the inclination?!

You won't wish you'd had cleaner towels when you're on your death bed. Just wash stuff less. Simple!

MrsCantSayAnything Thu 25-Oct-12 12:18:35

I do sheets and towels together and I do one black wash, one colour wash and one white wash every two days. There are 2 adults and 2 DC here.

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 25-Oct-12 12:20:57

It's the air in insulation that provides the insulation, if you have "stuff" on top of it squashing it down then you wont be getting the maximum benefit from it.

Check you washing machine manual, you can down load them free off the internet too, and check each cycles Kwh useage. Mine uses more electric on the 30 cotton than the 40 cotton to make up for a lower temperature it agitates the washing more and so uses more power.

I'm only spending £65 a month on a 4 bed detached.

CelineMcBean Thu 25-Oct-12 12:22:28

Wow that is loads of washing! Yyy to bigger loads. If space is tight or not enough wall space for a pulleymaid an over bath airer might be an option?

My top tip is don't put things actually on a radiator. It will stop the hot air circulating and will only dry those things actually on it. An a-frame airer put sideways on to a radiator will dry more things more quickly - just make sure there is nothing in front of the side so the warmed air can get in.

There really is no need to clear the laundry bag every day. Do washes based on colours/fabric type. I do a wool wash or a hand wash cycle every couple of weeks or so and "normal" washes every couple of days and have clothes in with towels and sheets. If it's a dry day I put some laundry on to save the dryer/airer clutter.

Your energy costs seem huge! Have you got insulation? Are your windows and doors as air tight as they could be? If not a curtain or blind will make a difference.

DorisIsWaiting Thu 25-Oct-12 12:26:04

Personally I would use your dining room as a drying room we have a playroom /drying room. ( hang larger clothes on coat hanger on the curatin poles (dual aspect) and then the smaller clothes I dry on a rack (like those you can get in Lidl) we dry only socks pants and flannels in the tumble dryer (normally 1 load a week ).

NB Family of 5 but youngest is 3. DD's have red school cardigans but they all get left until friday and I do a navy red jumpers tights and skirt wash and anything of dh/mine that is v dark.

tbh I mostly wash at the weekend then the playroom can be used once the washing is cleared and the loads or maximised for ecconomy.

I also only washed growbags when they needed it same with children's bedding.

CelineMcBean Thu 25-Oct-12 12:26:04

I don't use fabric softener either - it's a waste of money. I also don't buy branded washing powder/liquid unless it's on some amazing offer.

I always use about 2/3 or half the amount of detergent recommended. It still washes fine. You can also cut your powder with soda crystals. I usually do 50/50. A big bag of soda crystals is about 80p.

Babyrabbits Thu 25-Oct-12 12:27:06

I read that each 1 hour cycle of tumble dryer costs from 35 to 50 p!!!

BiddyPop Thu 25-Oct-12 12:27:36

If you only go swimming once a week, you should be able to just dry the gear and reuse it the following week - it should only need cleaning about every 2-3 weeks (I swim 2-3 times a week at the gym, and only change towels once every week or 2).

Do you have any outside space to hang clothes? I really would do that. And while putting things on rads mightn't be an option, putting them on a clothes horse overnight and then finishing off in tumble dryer would reduce drying time in the machine a LOT.

And I agree with others that the loads do sound small. With a sports and outdoor mad DD (6) with no uniform (so lots of sports gear and possibly jeans etc too daily - always need changing cos gets covered in mud), DH who also wears tshirts under workshirts, and individual towels household, and teenage au pair, I do an average of about 5-8 loads per week.

PropositionJoe Thu 25-Oct-12 12:29:36

We have a five bed semi with high ceilings and a family of four. I wash daily but not more than that. I think our bill is £140 PCM for gas and electricity. I agree that you need a rack or two in your dining room and bigger machine loads. I also think you need to get used to the idea that the laundry basket will always have stuff in it, that's what it's for! Try to limit yourself to one wash a day, see how you get on. Fewer vests and babygros for the baby, does your daughters bed really need doing every week, swimming towels don't need washing every time if you hang them out as soon as you get home.

M and S do yellow polo shirts.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 12:31:58

Actually, and this is a bit of a tangent so sorry and I'll understand if people don't want to answer, but speaking of mud I have a question. I find that if I don't wash/soak muddy clothes immediately, they just don't get clean. Is that the same for everyone or do I just have a crap machine?

Kind of an academic question really as I can't afford to get a new one but I am wondering.

moogalicious Thu 25-Oct-12 12:34:51

£200p/m shock

We are a family of 5 and our combined bill is £90p/m. So -

- I don't wash swimwear after each lesson, just rinse and dry
- childrens bedclothes don't need changing every week. Every 2 weeks here
- ditto towels
- if school trousers/skirt have a small stain I just wipe it off
- dc's stay in their uniform after school. The tops are dirty anyway, so what's the point of changing them. They take their jumpers off to eat.
- I have a 7.5kg machine

I probably do a couple of dark washes, one light, one whites and one woolly each week.

CelineMcBean Thu 25-Oct-12 12:47:40

Gosh do at least give swimming stuff a thorough rinse or the chlorine will perish the fabric. Which is expensive and potentially embarrassing!

I'd put swimming stuff straight in machine, rinse it but stop before the spin and then add rest of a load. Like one does with nappies.

I also have a lidded bucket - actually a nappy pale - that any weed/sicked on/otherwise damp/filthy stuff goes in. Then I do the rinse and add rest of load with that depending on what's in the bucket and laundry bag. Just make sure the pale gets completely emptied and cleaned every couple of days.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 13:06:44

In a previous life, my eh-h used to play cricket and I had the delightful task of trying to remove caked in mud from nylon cricket whites that could only be washed at 40.

Tried every bloody available thing, and in the end the only thing that got mud out was an overnight bucket soak in old-fashioned bio-tex (you can still get it in wilkos and tesco I believe). But yes, the sooner the soak happens the better. Days old mud is a sod to shift.....

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 25-Oct-12 13:08:06

Agree that your loads are far too small. Surely you can get cot bedding and single bedding in one load?

And yes you have to stop obsessing about the basket being empty. I know you don't want to let it build up, but it sounds like you are a bit OTT with it.

We are a family of four. DH wears a shirt to work every day, DS1 has uniform, 19 month old wears at least one full outfit every day, I rarely get more than one night out of pjs for the DCs or myself, DH goes two nights. I wear jeans 2-3 days before I wash them, clean top for me every day.
Bedding gets changed once a week, our bed is a kingsize and with all the pillowcases that makes a full load. DSs bedding is most of another load but I always put in some pjs etc with that to make it up to full size. Towels we change once a week, kitchen and downstairs loo ones get changed twice a week, I do two loads of towels each week.

On average I do 2 loads a day. Occasionally none, always at least one, sometimes 3-4 if I'm having a catch up or washing extra things like coats or blankets.

The amount you are spending on laundry stuff is bonkers too. I buy the huge bottles of Persil non-bio and colour liquid. Each does 54 washes, which is roughly a month at around 2 loads a day. Always buy it on offer at £6 a bottle instead of £12 which is the 'normal' price. So £6 a month, plus some of a bottle of fabric conditioner and I also put a colour catcher in 80% of my loads. I reckon I spend no more than £2-2.50 a week on laundry products.

Wallison Thu 25-Oct-12 13:12:00

Thanks alabaster. I shall just carry on soaking then and not blame my ancient machine. My son is obsessed with football and seems to spend most of his days whether at school or on the weekend sliding around and doing what he calls 'tackles' (I don't know much about football but I always thought that getting the ball was the aim, rather than trying to cover every inch of your clothing (and hair) with mud).

ScarePhyllis Thu 25-Oct-12 13:14:15

The amount of washing you are doing is utterly crazy. No wonder it is costing you a fortune.

OK, this is how I would do it:

- Bedding - sheets and pillowcases changed once a week. Duvet turned over after one week and cover washed every two weeks.
- Do you and DH need to have a bathsheet and a bathtowel each week? Could you use just one bathsheet, or two towels? It would just cut down on the weight a bit. I probably use about two towels a week.
- Change grobags only when dirty, or at the end of a week if unsoiled.
- Change handtowels once a week.
- Everyone takes a used towel swimming.
- Teatowels - this will be controversial but I change once a week. But I have a dishwasher so I don't actually use them very much.
- Handwash school cardis so you're not running a full load just to do them.
- DD wears wipable apron to eat breakfast and dinner, thus saving PJs and possibly cutting down on spillage on uniform in evenings. You wear apron to give baby breakfast.
- Buying extra uniform not a bad idea if it stops you doing a wash just to clean a few things each night.
- If stuff is spilled on DD's pinafore/cardigan/skirt try to get it out by just soaking the spot in a bit of water and a little bit of laundry detergent. It doesn't necessarily need to go on a full wash.
- I would make trousers last longer than 2 days, rotating days of wearing them to give them an airing (unless you have a very physical job). Especially the ones worn in the evening unless you're going to the gym in them or something.
- Do a 60 degree wash for towels, bedding and whites - I don't think they get clean properly unless you do this - and a 30 for everything else.
- Load machine fully - don't do a wash until you have a full load.
- Scrap the dryer and get a dehumidifier and/or heated airer - towels may be an exception though. Using airer etc will get a load dry overnight. It's insane to be tight about heating and to run the dryer for 2+ hours a day.


ClareMarriott Thu 25-Oct-12 14:13:44

Heavens, all this precision about washing clothes. !!! Unless something is seriously going to run just ram in enough for a full load, chuck in some powder and let it start !! I don't have a tumble drier so hang everything on free standing driers and I have'nt ironed anything for about 35 years !!! Think of all the other things you could be doing when you're pondering what to do with this or that piece of clothing !!!

Your loads are way too small IMO. I have 4 people here, me DH dd (8) and ds (6). I do about 3-4 loads a week. Bedding is done every 2-3 weeks, towels once a week (dried on heated towel rail every day) school clothes only get changed if dirty (and baby wipes take most lunch spills/paint off of jumpers), dcs do have clean pjs each night but me and DH don't wear any. Everything gets hung to dry on an airer in the living room (can take 36 hrs this time of year but turning things can speed it up). I don't iron anything except DHs work and dcs school shirts. Everything else is hung out flat straight from the machine.

AGeeksWife Thu 25-Oct-12 14:49:00

I do 1 load a day (2 on Sundays)- Monday, Wednesday, Friday is nappies, Tuesday is darks, Thursday is lights, Saturday is darks and Sundays is towels and bedding. That's for 2 adults, one small child and a toddler.

I do have quite a big drum but I wouldn't want to do anymore, I'd feel I was constantly washing!

nannyl Thu 25-Oct-12 16:36:25

another vote that your loads are way too small

i get our (kingsize) bed linen and cot linen and grobags and some muslins and other white smalls in 1 load.
(OR kingsize bed linen, and all the bath towels)

I do all our swimming stuff and swimming towels and a load of clothes as 1 load

i also do 30 cloth nappies, perhaps 5 wraps, 40 cloth wipes, and a changing mat cover as 1 load.

and i use 1/4 (MAX) of the amount of detergent you are supposed to use.

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 17:40:44

Oh dear..... I've come home, gathered up all the washing I could locate and normally that would be switched on without a thought. However, this time I squashed it down and blush there is still about 40% of the drum free (so I'm guessing about 30% more useable space.

I feel like a complete plank for not investigating this before. I have of course now not put the load on and will wait for further dirties before doing so.
I also tested the stuff from the dryer this morning, and it's still slightly damp. I'd have wacked that on for another 20 mins without thinking twice. Instead I've taken it out, and put up the airer in the dining room and moved a couple of chairs that were in the way in front of the radiator.

Am hoping this will all help. Basically I need to find/save/be better off by about £150 a month minimum (not just with laundry I might add!). I made a big, financially painful decision to return to work p/t this June, based on stress levels and wanting to spend more time with the kids. Unfortunately my employer hugely messed up, and so did I (not realising) and now I have an overpayment on my wages to pay back along with a tax underpayment from the last 2 years for my company car. Basically I'm going to be £100 a month worse off than my usual p/t wage for about 18 months, and it's struggle enough without any more loss.

I'm seriously hoping to at least make the fuel bills more like even £140 than £190 and then thats already £50 saved.......

TobyLerone Thu 25-Oct-12 17:43:05

Well done! MN wisdom strikes again grin

SoggySummer Thu 25-Oct-12 19:04:53

With the towels - they take ages in tumbler. They still come up soft and fluffy if you part dry them first on the airer or the line.

I have a bit of a rotation system going. As stuff come out the washer I remove yesterdays from the radiators or clothes horse and stuff thats not dry I finish off in the tumbler. Generally I try to hold off as long as I can putting stuff in the drier. Even without the heat on the longer its on the airer the drier it will be and the less tumbler time it will need.

sweetkitty Thu 25-Oct-12 19:11:42

There's 6 of us here I do a load a day in a 9 kg machine.

I hang the load on an airer overnight and tumble in the morning, cuts drying time in half.

Beds changed fortnightly, PJs clean on 3 times a week after baths, new towels every bath/shower. School uniform I can get 2 days out of unless they spill something down it.

I think you do an excessive amount of laundry our combined fuel bill is £109 a month, I'm a SAHM do in the house a lot and I'm always freezing and don't scrimp with the heating.

BackforGood Thu 25-Oct-12 19:19:21

Hoping I'm not repeating as I'm committing the MN Mortal sin of only reading pages 1 and 3 wink
Agree with everyone else (and cleary yourself now grin) about you not putting enough stuff in each wash.
I have 5 people in this house, and 2 of them are teens, so all their clothes are bigger, and they use towels like they are going out of fashion. They all camp a lot, and do lots of other things that attract a lot of mud. dc3 plays tons of sports - incl 2 football teams - which obviously means a lot of kits to wash as well as normal clothes. I reckon I probably do about 8 loads a week (that's allowing for at least some of them coming back with a holdall full of wet, muddy camp stuff each week).
I tumble dry eveything that is tumble dryable - saves in the long term to never have to iron and not to have horrible damp smell and condensation around the house, and extra heating on to dry it all!
Our house is pretty big - Victorian, high ceilings, over 4 floors, incl 6 bedrooms and of course 3 dc who can't grasp that the off switch is usually the same as the on switch. Loads of electrical items (lap tops, their own CD players, and X-box, etc.,etc). We pay £114pm for gas and elec combined.
I do 'shop around' every year to make sure I'm on the best tariff.
Unnecessary wash loads aside, I think your bills are far too high for the size of house though.

PoppyAmex Thu 25-Oct-12 19:51:01

"PoppyA - where do you have the pulleymaid? I'm not sure where it would go. Kitchen ceiling is pitched and sloping. Can see how they work though. Quite like the idea! "

Mine is in the utility room ceiling, but I've seen many over kitchen ranges or the top of the stairs, like Tufty said. In fact, I think the stairs would be brilliant as all the heat rises.

I try to use my Pulleymaid for most things (including cloth nappies) and then tumble dry on low heat for 10 minutes to get that "fluffy" feeling smile

alabasterangel Thu 25-Oct-12 20:11:47

I agree backforgood - it's insane. Our over the road neighbour is detached 4 bed and she pays half what we do, however we have had it checked and we are classed as 'high users'. We are on eons lowest tariff, and that's checking annually with comparison sites. We have a brand new (feb) top of the range Worcester Bosch combi boiler. In the last 6 months we have used 3914kw elec and 14499kw gas. We will do another supplier review in jan, and am hoping that by then our new boiler will have paid dividends, but am seriously fed up with so higher bills.

It is a deceptively big house, big cellar, two big reception rooms, three double bedrooms, 12 radiators, but we do try to rely on the open fires. Heating goes on 5pm till 7pm by which point the upstairs is toasty and we light the fire downstairs. Baby has a top efficiency portable radiator for really chilly nights, although now he is 18 months we prob won't use that again this winter as he'll have to toughen up!

Still at a loss as to where it all goes though otherwise.......

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 25-Oct-12 21:02:13

Lightbulbs? Fridge/freezer? How many computers and TVs on?

It is your gas usage that looks huge tbh, I would really look at insulation. We bought some very cheaply in Homebase last winter which DH just rolled out very unscientifically in the loft and it has made a big difference. Windows? Have you got proper draught excluders fitted to the door to your cellar?

Babyrabbits Thu 25-Oct-12 21:28:34

I would suggest curtain interlinings ( like mini duvets) in your curtains with thermal blinds, even cheap argos ones.

Close your curtains before dark, 4.30 ish turn your rads down.

noseymcposey Thu 25-Oct-12 21:58:29

If you are really under pressure to cut bills then it might be possible to wean yourself off the tumble dryer altogether. I have never had one and manage absolutely fine smile

Honestly, you can definitely get this bill down! What about oven, do you have that on for long periods of time? That pushes the bills up quite a bit too.

Also, do you have a dishwasher? If so, I hope you are filling that up properly now too smile

noseymcposey Thu 25-Oct-12 22:01:39

typical annual consumption is apparently
gas 16,500
electricity 3,300

so I think you need to look at both, as you are using double the 'average' roughly for gas and electricity.

BackforGood Thu 25-Oct-12 23:32:41

I've just looked mine up for you alabasterangel

Our elec for year 6640 KW
Our gas for a year 17,415 KW

We have 11 radiators + bathroom heated by a heated towel rail, so same as you give or take, but spread over more rooms. We don't have any open fires to help, and our heating stays on until about 10.30 at night.

So considerably more than you, but £114per month is what we pay.

Am with Scottish Power now, but was exactly the same payment last year with EOn (swapped as they annoyed me about something and then Quidco said they'd give me £30 or something to move)

ScarePhyllis Fri 26-Oct-12 01:28:37

Lakeland say that their heated airers cost less than 3p an hour to run. And a dehumidifer should be about 3-4p an hour. That's got to be cheaper than the tumble dryer, right, even if it means an initial outlay? You could use those for the washing and not use the tumbler or radiators at all to dry with.

It's got to be the tumbler that is using most of that electricity, but other small things - energy saving light bulbs, turn off lights not being used, switch off electrical things at the socket when not in use, check efficiency of fridge?

As for gas - only heat the rooms you need, use a fire (is that a wood or gas fire?) instead of putting the heating on. Thick curtains everywhere, especially for that glass wall in the kitchen. In fact I don't think I'd bother to heat the kitchen - it sounds far too big to heat.

ScarePhyllis Fri 26-Oct-12 01:43:42

I just looked at our electricity usage for the last year (don't know about gas as landlord pays it) and it was 4065kwh. That's for 5 adults in a super old house, with a tumble dryer that probably gets used about 6-8 times a week, and three fridges (don't ask) and lot of computers. But it is less than half the average US electricity use (11500kwh) ...

I am really puzzled. Are you certain you haven't got neighbours tapping into your electricity to power a cannabis farm?!

bissydissy Fri 26-Oct-12 02:12:38

Turn your thermostat/boiler down a degree or 2?

ParsingFancy Fri 26-Oct-12 02:17:32

If you have open chimneys, they might be costing you more than you save.

Try not using them for a while and stuffing a chimney balloon up there. Or make do with scrunched newspaper or an old pillow - but be sure to remove before you light fire. shock

And remove anyway in summer to make sure the chimney dries out (proper chimney balloon does allow small ventilation draft).

TheCatInTheHairnet Fri 26-Oct-12 02:25:56

Threads like this make me realise that the reason I find it hard to budget is because I don't even consider things like laundry when I'm trying to save money!

I do 2 loads a day and we're a family of 6 with 2 dogs. The dogs bedding gets washed each week as I don't want the house to smell of dog.

Also, I'm really lazy so I throw mixed colours in with each other and I have never, ever had a colour run problem.

DottyDot Fri 26-Oct-12 02:38:00

Blimey Charlie. We're a family of four and do about 3 loads a week. No dryer so we peg it all out but still don't iron!

I'd say it sounds like you're not filling your machine enough - I get loads more in mine than you've described and our machine isn't big - just average sized I think.

Stick more in and don't use the dryer! Our combined gas + electricity direct debit is £100 a month and I couldn't afford for it to be much higher!

DottyDot Fri 26-Oct-12 02:43:11

Ah - just seen you're already sticking more in the wash - excellent! We tend to prioritise school uniforms so do 2 of the 3 washes at the weeken - get all school + work clothes for that week done plus one lot of bedding (we change one bed a week). Then the 3 rd wash is usually mid-week for odds and sods, underwear, any towels etc. yes there's always something lurking at the bottom of the washing box, but that's life! Ds's have learned that if they want something in particular washed, they stick it straight in the machine - usually football-related clothes... hmm

vodkaanddietirnbru Fri 26-Oct-12 08:11:36

I use 5341 Electricity and 18033 Gas over 12 months - we now pay £125 per month as £96 combined wasnt covering our usage. I did a couple of searches and the only other tariff cheaper than mine didnt offer coverage to customers that are served by an IGT (Independent Gas Transporter) which we are. (always costs us a bit extra for gas)

vodkaanddietirnbru Fri 26-Oct-12 08:14:28
alabasterangel Fri 26-Oct-12 13:12:45

Thanks for all the advice. I do agree though, I do feel like something is very wrong somewhere.... another long ramble, sorry....

Yes, it's an old house. We have a long, tiled passageway with the original single glazed victorian door. I can't ditch that for a plastic one, but we have a curtain partway down the hall where there is a big archway and that divides off the cold part of the passage that we don't use. The fires (we have two open downstairs - one is used daily and booms out loads and loads of heat. When it's ever not in use for any period it has a flue-flap thing which is down to prevent draughts. The one in the front room is down all the time and you can't feel any cold there, and the same in the kids rooms although obviously their fireplaces are never used. In fact with theirs, they have the flues shut AND a black bag filled with screwed up newspaper above that to stop bird noises apart from anything. The house is double glazed, apart from the three big front windows which are single glazed sashes. Its a conservation area and non of the other houses have the fronts double glazed either; would look pretty grim. Having said that the neighbours I've talked to with the same windows don't have the bills we seem to have!!! The monster window in the dining room is the room we use the least, until yesterday the radiator was off and the door shut all the time, although I've put the radiator back on now to deal with the laundry. I do have thermal lined curtains in there and shut them every night too. The kids windows are single glazed sashes too, but we have on their windows (get this.....) a sheet of thermal fabric which I stick up flat to the window with velcro every night (blacks the room out too), then a thermal blind, then curtains which are FIVE (yes!!) layers of fabric and superheavy. I'm handy with the machine, so I got them two sets of curtains each, sewed them together back to back with a thermal layer in between. All that lot goes up at sunset, and their rooms are super cosy. All other curtains are thermal lined, and all get closed, with the exception of the kitchen which is semi-conservatory type of thing and has no blinds or curtains but is double glazed.

Thermostat in the hall (on the warm side of the curtain) is set to 18. All the radiator therms are set to approx 3 (on a scale of 1-6). Heating comes on for an hour in the morning, and as of today 2 hours at 5pm and by the time it goes off the kids have been bathed and the fire is lit. The radiator in the hall is off, as is the landing and the tiny one in the utlity room. The downstairs loo one was turned off and last winter it got so cold in there as a result that the water in the cistern froze!!!! The kitchen this morning when the heating had been on for 30 mins was 15 degrees (i.e. bloody cold to me!). The kids rooms (baby has a therm on his monitor) get to about 18 lowest overnight which is about right.

There are no laptops plugged in (ipad gets charged once a week and I use my work laptop which holds its charge for hours from being docked at work), only one tv, DVD is off not standby. Lights are always switched off when the room is left. One small lamp with a very, very low wattage low energy bulb is left on the landing overnight so DD can see her way to the loo. We do have a myriad of big lights (6 recessed lights in the bathroom, 12 overhead lights in the kitchen, and 16 bulbs in a mahoosive chandelier on the landing) but honestly, these are never on for any stretch - I'm concious of their cost! Even in the kitchen I only switch one of the sets on depending on which end of the room I'm at and again, off as soon I leave the room. Newish single fridge freezer, dishwasher but again used once a day (i'm anal about it getting filled correctly, unlike the washer!) and it's a super economical one which is run on a 45 minute cycle. Yes, I have a range cooker (dual fuel) but the oven is rarely on. I slowcook everything I can (even chickens!) and the most I'll have it on for is to bake a cake at the weekend or cook fish fingers for tea! I don't boil the kettle endlessly. No electric shower (just pressure driven).

I really can't understand it at all. However our electrician friend has checked the fuseboard and the meter and all is okay. We also asked the Eon man who fitted the meter to see what he thought, and he said "you just seem to be high users".

Ive checked eon and I am £200 in credit, but they suggest that will have dwindled to zero by the end of the winter....

At a loss as to what to try next, but rather cheesed off with it to say the least!!

nemno Fri 26-Oct-12 13:23:33

Good that you are putting more in washing machine as I agree with others on that. I think you are doing well on the windows but it is the kitchen that is the problem. I don't really know how you can help this but maybe depending on design you could use thermal blinds or partition off? Conservatories are just very expensive to heat.

ParsingFancy Fri 26-Oct-12 13:28:56

If you haven't already (sorry, may have missed it), get yourself a clip-on energy monitor.

But you'll have made a big change already by getting the laundry under control.

vodkaanddietirnbru Fri 26-Oct-12 13:32:56

if you are in credit then I would tell them to bugger off with an increase in direct debit. Tell them you will increase the payment when/if you slip into debit with them. We were in debit by £148 and our payment has increase from £96 to £125.

alabasterangel Fri 26-Oct-12 13:42:12

Yes parsingfancy eon provide us with one free. I'm scrutinising it more now than I ever have!

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 26-Oct-12 17:16:38

Did you check the washing machine manual to see how much electric each cycles uses?

Does it have an eco setting? takes longer but uses less electric.

ScarePhyllis Fri 26-Oct-12 22:10:37

Energy monitor is good. I think if I were you I would turn absolutely everything in the house off and check what the baseline is just to make sure there's nothing weird that you don't know about using power. I'm serious about the cannabis farm, actually ...

I also think it's got to be the conservatory that is sucking heat up - is it open to the kitchen or does it have a wall that you could cover up with a curtain? If you are handy at making curtains is there anything you can run up to improve the situation?

I feel determined to get to the bottom of this!

I very often don't wash things in the machine if they're only a bit stained. For example, if DS spills some lunch down his sweatshirt, then I'll just sponge it off and leave it to dry for the next morning, as it's not really dirty, it's just got a stain on it. Also, I was always told not to machine wash swimwear, so I always chuck all the costumes/shorts in a bowl of warm water and just rinse them to get the chlorine out. I probably put them through the machine once a month or so. Also, I only change sheets on beds once a fortnight; I used to do them once a week, but tbh can't see any difference in doing them every two weeks instead. So maybe just cutting down a bit would help.

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 14:58:20

Scarephylis..... And all.....
It gets more confusing.....we only had our energymonitor in feb, a week after having our superduper new boiler, so today I requested from eon a more accurate 12 month figure of our exact has usage....... Elec 6236 (so as has been said, double the uk average) and gas..... Get this...... 33,000kw !!!!!!!!

I've spoken to our over the road neighbours who are deal friends, and their bill based on the same supplier, 4 bedroom detached house, single glazing throughout, much much bigger hallway and landing to us, houses feel comparably warm, thermostats set to the same....... 12,000 kw usage in their house!!!! And another friend who has the same, 11,000 kw usage!!! Now hey, even if I am slightly more generous with the heat (and I don't think I am) then there is no way on this earth I am using three times more than they are!!! Today we have been freezing again, kitchen and lounge are 15 degrees, I've just about said sod it all and put the heating on now because its extortionate anyway.

If we do want to get this looked at further, has anyone got any ideas as to who would do it? Plumber? Transco? Eon? I'm not sure where to turn for the best.....

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 27-Oct-12 15:06:11

I think they've inputted the numbers wrong.

Is the boiler turned right up? Water stat set to.60?

justbogoffnow Sat 27-Oct-12 15:24:42

Energy monitor showed me how much energy our tumble dryer EATS.

Now I dry everything on racks indoors and on radiator racks (don't care if we look like a laundry). Then I'll do a v short 'spruce up' tumble by putting the dry things I want de-creased in with a wet, rinsed out flannel. It works. For towels I put in a wet rinsed out tea towel.

MousyMouse Sat 27-Oct-12 15:28:55

sounds rather a lot.
4 people here too and we do:
- towels/ kitchen cloths/sponges 1 load every 2 weeks or so (change towels in between)
- bedding every week, alternate between adult and dc bedding
- darks, wash whenever basket is full
- jeans, whenever we need clean ones
- lights (don't have any pure white stuff)
- socks, get washes separately as we are a smelly feet family.

roughly do 5 loads per week.

have a 7kg drum and try to fill it well. no tumble dryer, dairer is at a drafty place on the top landing. no iron, just hang up things as tidy and straight as possible and fold

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 15:37:31

Fluffy - boiler is new, energy efficient, and the rad temp on the boiler is set to mid-way (three out of six) and tap water temp set at 'e' which is the most economical setting for the boiler. Thermostat in the hall on 18 and all radiators set about midway.

Called eon. They say if we switch all gas appliances off and watch the energy meter it should baseline to zero, thus proving there is no problem with the meter. Tried this, it works. She was pretty aghast at the usage and circumstances though! She is asking the team manager from the efficiency team to call me on Monday.......

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 15:45:46

All that aside, I shall be treating myself to that bottle glass of wine later, as I have managed to do only 2 loads of washing in three days, and even so the basket is by no means overflowing....... Hurrah!!!!

When I had my room thermostat fitted by plumber said to turn up all the radiators to maximum. That way the heating would actually be on for less time.

So room thermostat at 18 degrees. It is cold. Heating comes on, rads on full blast go on. Within a few minutes the ambient temperature comes up to 18degree. Rads turn off. Drops a bit - quick blast - turns off. Residual heat from hot radiators lasts.

If you have mid-temp rads then surely the effect would be:
Room thermostat at 18 degrees. Rads come on at mid blast.... heats the space and nearly gets to 18 degrees - finally does. Takes longer than full blast. Finally gets to 18degrees - goes off. Mid temp radiators cool - temp goes down....heating comes back on - mid temp radiators struggle to get it above 18 heating on for longer.

I would seriously think about turning the rads on to max. Turn down/off those in rooms you do not use (though I would be tempted not to turn those down too much so they do not become ice-boxes which suck the warmth from the rest of the house). You may well find your heating bill goes down as it has to work less hard to do the same ambient temperature.

I may be talking out of my bottom though.... but worth a shot - as to be honest you cold not pay much more grin.

marquesas Sat 27-Oct-12 15:47:11

Are your bills based on actual readings or have they been estimating and done it wrong? Do you check your meter readings?

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 27-Oct-12 15:57:19

When we were with eon we had quartley bills of £900 for a one bed flat, where both occupants were out all day 8-4. They swore the bills were correct and basically said we were just high users. I used to open the bills and cry as we had no way of being able to afford nearly a £1000 per quarter.

Then we found that they had transposed the readings repeatedly, so reading day useage was recorded as night, this made it a huge leap and made it look like we had used loads when we hadnt.

In the end they got so tied up in not being able to read our meter properly, it was an E10 tariff, that we had no bill to pay for nearly 12 months.

Try turning appliances on one at a time eg turn the boiler on for an hour and see how much it uses for that hour on the meter.

I switch everytime we move as we always seem to end up back with eon and I refuse to hand over my cash to them.

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 17:48:28

Bills are based on readings not estimates. Our energy smartmeter communicates the live readings back to eon which are indeed correct (I.e. I have checked them on the physical meter itself against the smart energy meter thing and yes, they are correct.

If no luck finding a 'problem' somewhere then yes fishfingers I might well try that - or might do it for a day on the same timer settings and compare the kw usage.

Gas should not be this complicated and testing....!

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 27-Oct-12 18:32:47

When I was comparing gas prices etc for mil the energy companies based an average home on readings of 16000kwh for gas, I dont see how a terraced house can be twice that.

Somethings wrong, something is literally eating your gas.

If you go on money saving expert when you get chance they might have others on there who have experience of this.

thixotropic Sat 27-Oct-12 18:55:23

Just a thought on the electricity bill.


Our combined gas and electricity is GBP 50 per month for the 3 of us in a modern semi. We have a dishwasher and tumble dryer, probably a load of washing a day.

Dh is a bit anal obsessive, and has identified my daily hair wash shower as being a big cost, as I do linger a bit. Some of my showers were costing over a quid.

Shorter, cooler showers

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 19:00:31

I wish I got the chance of a long shower! DS(1) is banging on the glass and I'm lucky to get conditioner in my hair. If I shave both legs it's a good day. DCs share a shallowish bath every other day. Am a about to run their bath now, and DH have a shower after working all day, so ill watch the meter with interest but it doesn't show a peak at that time of day normally....

Will post something on MSE later, thanks for that idea.....!

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 19:01:15

Am mighty jealous of the £50 a month bill!!!!

vodkaanddietirnbru Sat 27-Oct-12 19:23:58

you dont use much more than we do on electric (5341 compared to your 6236) but your gas seems horrendously high (18033 compared to your 33,000). What gas appliances do you have/use and for how long/how often? There must be an issue with something as the figures just dont seem correct.

vodkaanddietirnbru Sat 27-Oct-12 19:24:53

p.s. we dont run a tumble drier like you do so the increased electricity consumption would be explained by that.

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 19:37:21

Only the boiler (combi, new, efficient) and the hob on the oven ( oven is elec, hob is gas).....gas is only used for water on demand (no tank) and heating radiators.

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 19:41:11

Heating is on a timer, on for prob 2 hours a day till now, upped that to 4 hours yest, and today overrode that for another hour early afternoon today as it was really chilly. Even on an extravagant day I'd say 5 hours max as the fires take over heating in the eve as soon as the Dcs are in bed......

5 hours a day in a 3 bed terrace can't use 33,000kw? I don't think 24/7 in a 3 bed terrace could use 33,000 kw!!!!

vodkaanddietirnbru Sat 27-Oct-12 19:41:53

Has your meter been changed recently - were the figures checked to see if they were correct (replacement meters are often refurbished old ones and will have a starting value on them rather than starting from 0 again)

From online here:

Check your bill to make sure it's correct. Mistakes include:

*an inaccurate meter reading has been used by mistake – check the reading on your bill against your meter
*you have been billed for the wrong property – check the address on the bill
*you have been billed for the wrong meter – check the meter reference number (also called MPR or MPAN) on your bill against the reference number on the meter itself
*you have been billed for the wrong kind of meter – check whether your meter is imperial (four digits) or metric (five digits), and that your bill shows this correctly.
*If any of these apply, tell your supplier and ask for a new bill.

vodkaanddietirnbru Sat 27-Oct-12 19:45:04

our heating is on for a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening so probably about 9 hours a day. We have the thermostat set about 18-20 degrees so the heating will go on and off as required to maintain that temperature. Our only other gas appliance is the hob.

ParsingFancy Sat 27-Oct-12 19:45:09

Oh, it's an actual Smart Meter?

If I understand correctly, the physical meter in your cupboard (or wherever) is a Smart Meter - the separate display it just shows what the Smart Meter tells it. If one's wrong, so will the other be.

There have been problems in the US with Smart Meters overcharging 1600 people, because of a design fault. Though that may have been a different design from yours.

But it's a new technology and the faults may not be well understood. I wouldn't be too confident that the guy you called out to check the meter can definitely say it's not faulty.sad

There's certainly something wrong somewhere.

ParsingFancy Sat 27-Oct-12 19:48:30
BoffinMum Sat 27-Oct-12 19:52:45
thixotropic Sat 27-Oct-12 19:52:53

Hmmmm, not showers then.

It took us a smart meter, and quite a bit of meter watching and being really really careful to get our bills down to that.

We did have a head start in that it is a well insulated house, and we have taken care to always replace appliances with efficient ones when any of them dies, even if it cost a little bit more in the short term.

Rikalaily Sat 27-Oct-12 19:54:34

I don't dry heavy items in the machine, they are put on an airer on the landing, you don't need a radiator on, they will air dry as long as it's not freezing in there. Even if you put towels, jeans, jumpers etc on the airers overnight and then popped them in the drier to finish it would save alot of electricity.

I have a washer dryer and the dryer takes an hour to dry 4 adults T shirts so only light stuff does in there. We are a family of 6 and I do 2 loads a day, would probably do 3 a day if I could get it all dry. When there were 4 of us I'd do 2 loads a day, 1 light, 1 dark and extra washes at the weekend for towels and bedding so probably 16 loads a week back then.

ParsingFancy Sat 27-Oct-12 20:06:12

Don't know if this has any relevance in the UK, but this thread about the Australian Smart Meter probs has a v useful post by someone who works in the industry (T Bone at 2011-Jul-29, 6pm AEST):

"One very common problem is the Meter Program Structure is setup incorrectly by the network & you end up registering off peak consumption twice. This can be very hard to prove without an installation inspection."

He details how to force an Australian energy company to check properly and admit an error. God knows if that is of any use here.

Sorry, not what you want to be doing.

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 20:14:00

I will have a look at that stuff about smart meters, so thank you.

What I would say though is that we had the new boiler and smart meter installed in feb of this year to try and and visually see/ cut down on bills that were already that high before the smart meter and new boiler was installed. Basically spending £2k on a new top end boiler has saved nothing!!! And seeing as our spend was the same (something like 3% lower actually!) then it can't really be the smart meter causing the problem as the problem was the same before........?

ScarePhyllis Sat 27-Oct-12 20:56:00

I think this sounds like a meter problem. Ask for an installation inspection, and if they refuse, you can take the complaint to the Energy Ombudsman.

In the meantime, now that you know you have a baseline of zero, can you go around turning things on one by one to check that there is no one thing that is disproportionately eating energy?

ParsingFancy Sat 27-Oct-12 21:04:27

Ah, yes, if the problem predates the Smart Meter, it oughtn't to be that.

Lots of good luck with call from Eon on Monday...

alabasterangel Sat 27-Oct-12 21:12:10

Scare Phyllis, yes, with the electric. Because we only use gas for the rads and water, and hob, it's not so clear.

I've used 50% less elec in the last 48 hours than in the preceeding days..... Due to the laundry no question!

MousyMouse Sun 28-Oct-12 11:38:30

regarding the gas: is your washer a warm fill mashine? if it is it will take hot water from the boiler instead of heating it up itself.

JulesJules Sun 28-Oct-12 11:48:39

It does sound like there is a problem with your meter, so I hope you can get that sorted out.

Haven't read whole thread, so apols if someone has already suggested this - but the Miele man told me that you never need more than a tablespoon of washing powder for a load of washing.

BoffinMum Sun 28-Oct-12 16:16:28

If so inclined, you could actually do the maths, and write down every single appliance, then calculate kilowatts/therms actually used, then cost it up yourself and see the degree of disparity for yourself. Then the supplier would have to examine what was going on and perhaps carry out technical tests in order to establish whether there was an error at their end of operations. Especially if the Ombudsman made them.

BTW FWIW once I lived in a flat and they mis-labelled our meters, so I was billed for the leccy of the bloke upstairs and vice versa, until we rumbled something was up. My dad did this for us (he was an Electrical Engineers) and it got them investigating things properly (he also got them testing current levels and if I recall correctly we found there were spikes that meant I was getting more than 216-232v at times, which caused problems with my wiring).

ParsingFancy Sun 28-Oct-12 18:45:21

If you still suspect the meter, you could get one of those clip-on monitors I linked earlier and see if the readings match the Smart Meter readings. They're not designed for forensic testing, but might give you an indicative result if you're desperate.

Theas18 Sun 28-Oct-12 18:52:39

4 here now (2 teens 2 adults) and I do probably a white and a dark 2xweek with 1 or 2 other loads ( bedding etc) . I do however change face flannels often ( single use for me - paranoid about my contact lenses!) and hand towels whn wet or grubby ( even teens leave dirty prints in thrm - ick!). There may e a rugby wash in there too but ds does that.

Friend of mine with 3 sporty kids and a gym going husband has 2 machines as she can't keep up - eek!

ScarePhyllis Sun 28-Oct-12 23:10:41

You might get the electricity bill down to a normal looking amount simply by using the tumbler less then. It's the gas bill that really intrigues me though - do you keep the water tank heated at all times?

vodkaanddietirnbru Mon 29-Oct-12 07:59:46

she says she has a combi boiler and no water tank. I cant work out why it would be so high either

ParsingFancy Mon 29-Oct-12 08:17:40

Ah, hang on. I have seen a cold-fill washing machine wrongly plumbed in before, so it was filling with hot. That would trigger the combi right enough.

And would still be using electric because the machine would be taking the cooled water that's been sat in the pipes.

alabasterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 13:23:35

No it's a cold fill machine and its correctly plumbed - plus the boiler is in the kitchen and you can HEAR that it is only kicking in when you a) run hot water or b) have heating on. The only other thing to use gas in the whole house is the hob.... And believe me, I don't cook that much!

I've no idea, really! I can see a dramatic reduction in elec usage over the past week due to the laundry but as scarephylis says she lions share of the bill is the gas. Eon are due to call me back later in the week. We've all been poorly with a horrendous d&v type episode over the weekend but as soon as I feel human I'll be chasing them. Spoke to my sister in law over the weekend and she has her heating on 24/7 (her house is like a furnace, I can't breathe in there!) and even her bill is lower than ours!!!!

alabasterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 13:24:59

Boffinmum - that's a good idea. I might actually do that, at least with the boiler, and I might ask the firm who fitted it earlier in the year to come back out and proffer efficiency advice......

blooblies Mon 29-Oct-12 17:00:08

hope you don't gave a leak?!

alabasterangel Mon 29-Oct-12 17:40:53

Update, and a hint of what the problem MIGHT be.

When we had the new boiler installed we got four estimates. Two of which said we could do with new piping from the meter to the boiler as an 'ideal' set up. In the end we used one of the ones who didn't (can't even recall why).

I've just come across a thread on money saving expert (thanks for that tip!) where someone with the same brand of boiler was also having extortionate bills which didnt tie up with usage. Turns out the piping between the meter and the boiler is too narrow and too long) causing the boiler to need to draw more gas/work harder, and therefore causing a much higher gas usage than should be required.

The poster had asked for Worcester Bosch to come out and investigate who confirmed that indeed it was the pipes. I've a fairly strong thought that the same comment was passed to us, that our pipes were 'borderline' and the distance was some ridiculous quantity, so that ties up too. I think I might get one of the plumbers back who gave us the estimate involving pipe work and ask his opinion again, plus also ask Worcester Bosch to come out too (it's under guarantee).

Obviously if that is the case, we could perhaps have recourse to insist that this piping is upgraded by the people wh fitted the boiler (could be deemed as unsafe, could be deemed as bad practice etc according to this other case). I suppose you could look for recourse for loss on the bills over the last year, but frankly as long as its sorted and the work didn't cost anything I wouldn't really care. So away from home tonight, but I will be chasing when I get back and can access phone numbers tomorrow!!

Fingers crossed!!!

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 29-Oct-12 17:53:58


marquesas Mon 29-Oct-12 18:56:38

That's good news about the reduction in electricity usage and intriguing about the boiler.

There's definitely something wrong with the gas - please keep us updated.

SpookleDust Mon 29-Oct-12 23:48:01

I feel your pain re. gas usage sad

Over the last 12 months our gas usage was 32,042kwh (electricity was 6621kwh). I think we live in similar type houses too. Ours is a 3 bed Victorian semi with very high ceilings, cellars and single glazed sash windows. I have been so pissed off with our crazy gas bills that I have tracked it fastidiously over the last 12 months (at times taking readings on a daily basis). I have a spreadsheet to show the levels of usage per month and have found our gas usage rockets in the winter months so ultimately it is just heating the damn house that costs all the money.

We have a digital thermostat set to get the temp up to 18C for an hour or so in the morning and the same in the evening. The rest of the time it is set to 15C so I am generally in thermals and a fleece at home during the day.

My current mission is to tackle as many draughts as possible but without spending serious money on replacement double glazed sash windows (also in conservation area) I can't see a way of significantly reducing our gas usage during the winter without getting hypothermia. It's shit and more so when the tariffs keep going up (have just changed tariff again to be on the cheapest at £180 dual fuel per month).

Our cheapest gas usage over the last 12 months was 43p per day (inc standing charge) over the summer, most expensive was £4.83 per day over the winter shock.

We can't have wall insulation (no cavity) and we have adequate loft insulation. I know this as someone from Mark Group came out this week to see if we could get anything done to help with reducing bills/increasing insulation. Instead I am hoping to thermally-line blinds and curtains to keep as much heat in as possible. Hope you have some joy with the boiler - I'll be watching with interest for any developments.

ScarePhyllis Tue 30-Oct-12 00:37:29

Ahaaa ... That sounds plausible.

If it does turn out to be that, do try to get the money from the bills back. The mention of a small claims court might prod them into action.

But I think you said the high gas bills were even before the boiler was installed, didn't you?

bubbles1231 Tue 30-Oct-12 00:45:43

Family of 4 here. 4-5 loads a week. if in doubt weigh your washing by standing on the bathroom scales with it.
All washing goes out on the line even in winter, as long as it's not raining. Even getting it partially dry will help. Consider having a pulley put up in your kitchen/utility room. The air near the ceiling is much warmer.

youngermother1 Tue 30-Oct-12 01:21:28

have you had the meter checked?

Fluffycloudland77 Thu 01-Nov-12 14:44:35

So hows everything going here?

CouthyMowEatingBraiiiiinz Thu 01-Nov-12 14:50:00

That's only about 4/5 loads less than me, and I wash my towels more often (have 4 towel loads a week) AND have 4 DC's not two.

How small is your machine? A larger machine saves on water, electricity AND laundry powder. I use the sane amount of powder in my 8kg machine as I did in my 5.5kg one, and the clothes are still clean and fresh.

I'm hankering after the 10kg machine I have seen, it will be my next one when this one dies.

I think your capacity is too small for your family size tbh.

MrsDeVere Thu 01-Nov-12 14:56:20

I do a lot of washing too.
I wouldn't put swimmers in the washer or dryer though. I would hand rinse them and hand up to dry. They are designed to dry quickly.

I save up my whites for one wash on a friday. DS3 wears white polo shirts to school so I have a full load by then.

I save towels and tea towels for one wash and do them on hot once a week.

I know its a pain having drying hanging up around the place but if you are struggling with fuel bills it is worth it. Finish them off in the dryer. We have an A rated one but I try not to use it too much.

We recently bought one of those heated airers from Lakeland. We are lucky because we have a large wet room. I stick it in there during the day and it has the added bonus of drying out the dampness in there.

Do you have any space for one at all? They do fold up flat and cost a few pence and hour. You can get loads on one.

DragonMamma Wed 07-Nov-12 15:25:13

That's a lot of washing OP!

There's 4 of us, my DH plays football twice a week and DD is in school, there's also DS who is a messy eating toddler. DH also washes his work uniform too.

We do this in a week:

1 dark uniform wash
1 light uniform wash
1 light wash
1 coloured wash
1 jeans and joggers wash
1 towel wash (I have a 6kg drum and it holds 2 thick bath sheets and 2 handtowels or 1 normal bath towel)
Ours and DD's bedding get washed together on a 60c wash and DS's grobags and bedding get left to build up as he has loads of sheets from his reflux days when they were changed a few times a day.

I have a utility room where there boiler is so I bought some of those over the radiator things and shove them on the top of the internal doors and dry as much as possible that way. What can go on the radiator does and what we aboslutely can't dry goes in the tumble!

Gas and electric are £100 a month together and we live in a 3 bed semi. DD's match up to useage for once too

Masses to read, but I wonder if anyone has pointed out that fabric conditioner on towels means they take forever to dry, because the conditioner 'coats' the fabric so the water can't evaporate.

And I agree with the suggestion to turn your dining room into a drying room.

madmomma Wed 14-Nov-12 22:24:42

when I do a wash I just shove as much as I can into the washer. Is that wrong? I know you can overload a dryer, but thought you just filled the washing machine drum confused

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