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British Gas smart meter reviewer feedback thread month 3. Non testers: share your top energy saving tips and you could win £100 JL voucher. NOW CLOSED

(59 Posts)
KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 22-Nov-13 16:21:29

This thread is for the 3 Mumsnetters and 2 Mumsnet Bloggers who are testing the British Gas smart meters in their home.

Non testers: We'd love to know what your top tips are for saving gas and electricity around the home. What precautions do you take? How easy do your children find it to follow these steps to saving energy? How do you keep an eye on the amount of energy you use in your home? Do you manage to stick to a budget?

Everyone who adds a comment to this thread by 20th December will be in with a chance of winning £100 worth of John Lewis vouchers

Testers
Month 3: Budgeting:
For the final challenge we'd like you and your family to use the smart energy monitor to set yourselves a weekly budget for both gas and electricity and try to stick to this by changing the way you use energy around the home. For instructions on how to set a budget on your smart energy monitor please check your IHD user manual or watch this video
- What is your new weekly budget?
- How realistic do you think this is?
- What are you going to do to try to stick to this budget?
- How will you involve your children in trying to save energy? Perhaps ask them to help when you/your partner are making dinner - where could you save energy? Which vegetables could go in one pan instead of two? You can find some smart tips here
- How easy/difficult have you found sticking to the budget? Was it easier or harder than expected?
- Overall, do you feel that your relationship with gas and electricity has changed? Did you and your family change your habits for good?

Thanks and good luck,

MNHQ

ViviDeBeauvoir Fri 29-Nov-13 01:50:40

Switch everything off at the wall, close all internal doors/curtains/blinds at bed time.

Wear thermal pyjamas/jumpers

Slow cook food

Co sleep (that's the best tip - currently have all my DC snuggled in my bed after the two eldest sneaked in and it's nice and toasty!)*

*disclaimer - they are all under 5. This tip probably isn't helpful to parents of teens. grin

Maracas2013 Fri 29-Nov-13 13:56:52

Make sure your central heating system is balanced through the whole house. Balanced central heating = efficient energy use.

OddSockMonster Mon 02-Dec-13 14:22:19

Tester:

What is your new weekly budget?
New budget is £25 a week on gas, £5 a week on electricity.

How realistic do you think this is?
Electricity is probably realistic but I'm not sure about the gas, especially with colder weather forecast.

What are you going to do to try to stick to this budget?
Well I've just re-draught proofed the front and back doors, including sealing over the redundant cat flap, and no longer have the heating on during the day (between 8am and 4pm) when it's mostly just me in the house. Have also dropped the thermostat to 19oC to see if that's bearable, and reduced the time in the evening that the heating's on. I feel the cold most out of the four of us so have an extra jumper on (plus a scarf and down boots when I'm sitting still at the computer) and a sofa blanket for the evenings.

How will you involve your children in trying to save energy?
I've been dressing the kids with an extra layer in the morning but won't let them go cold and would rather crack the heat up when needed. They've been helping to switch off lights too and prefer their veg raw so that's one less thing to cook.

How easy/difficult have you found sticking to the budget? Was it easier or harder than expected?
It's definitely harder at the weekend, when we're all here and cooking more (e.g. a roast plus freezer meals for the week). I guess it balances out over the week but I can't see how to check what we've spent over the week, only how we've done against the daily budget.

Overall, do you feel that your relationship with gas and electricity has changed? Did you and your family change your habits for good?
I'm probably more paranoid about having the heating on, now that I can see what we spend in a day, and it's probably affected my habits more than the rest of the family - especially letting the house cool down during the middle of the day. It kicked me into re-doing the draught proofing though, which I've been meaning to do for a few months now so that's maybe a good thing.

Looking forward to the £100 JL voucher, I'm going to spend it on thermals.

petalsandstars Mon 02-Dec-13 19:13:47

Turn lights off unless absolutely necessary, always add my green veg to the pan of potatoes or pasta already cooking to save water and gas, tell my DH to put a jumper on rather than the heating!

Blankets on the sofa to snuggle under in the evenings.

We turn appliances off at the socket and try not to leave anything on standby. We only have lights on int the rooms that we use. Dishwashers, washing machine etc are only turned on when full. However our gas bills are very high as we have the heating on all the time so we need to shop around for a cheaper tariff.

CMOTDibbler Mon 02-Dec-13 21:15:36

Non tester - thick curtains pulled at dusk and tucked behind radiators. Turn off lights as much as possible. Thermostat on constant, lower heat so the house doesn't cool down. Thick duvets!

DrankSangriaInThePark Tue 03-Dec-13 14:27:38

Non-tester.

Wear more clothes, close windows and internal doors, boil kettle half full only. Have new washing machine which does an "eco" wash which supposedly saves us 25%.

Shout at everyone who leaves things on standby. Extra blankets and a hottie bottle at night. (I refuse to leave central heating on at night) <<<<cruel mammy. fgrin

ArthurCucumber Tue 03-Dec-13 14:33:11

Non tester - my main general tip is to really get aware of your energy usage in day to day living. Sounds obvious (esp on a thread like this one!) but monitoring really is the way forward. Paying by direct debit + paperless billing is convenient and can save money - but it carries a risk of losing track in a way that couldn't have happened in the old days when a bill used to land on the mat. We used to have to lift up the bill, open it, look at it, sometimes physically go somewhere and pay it. If that's all automatic, it's only human nature to let things slide, especially when you're busy.

We got caught this way and it was only when I sat down and went through everything that we realised how high our usage really was (I had a thread here at the time!). I'm now quite evangelical about monitoring energy usage because you can find out which appliances/activities use the most. We thought we were being frugal, boiling the right amount of water in the kettle, etc. - and all those things are great. But they're just clipping round the edges unless you know exactly how much is used by (for example) showering and cooking. That way you can work out when you're being genuinely wasteful and cut those areas down without having to feel you're going without.

That was quite general so my number one practical tip is to use shower timers, especially if you have teenage girls as I do. We have an electric shower which uses a shocking amount of electricity and we just didn't know. After a while using a monitor (not as part of this trial) we've halved our shower times and it's made a massive difference.

KateOxford Tue 03-Dec-13 16:30:01

We have a fixed tariff so our prices won't go up. I read the meters regularly and adjust our direct debit so we don't end up owing too much. We always think about turning lights and appliances off. We have energy saving bulbs, LED spotlights and Eco night lights. Our hot water is switched on by a timer so we don't forget to turn it off and leave it running too long. We have solar panels for our hot water these were already fitted when we moved in so we do save some money by using these. We do use the heating whenever we need it but always turn it back down when out etc. My children are too young to understand but I do say that we are turning the lights off when we leave rooms etc. I often try to cook a couple of things at the same time and always use a full load in the washing machine and dishwasher. We keep curtains closed to keep the heat in and have a blanket on our bed to minimise the need for heating. We keep ice in the freezer to make that run efficiently and I descale appliances which apparently increases efficiency. We shower one after the other and bath the children one after the other so the bathroom fan is not on too long. I don't turn the heating on if we are going out soon and try to use the washing line to dry clothes rather than the dryer. I put heavy sheets in the dryer for 20 mins to dry a very small amount then line dry the rest or hang over the banister! Nothing very radical but I am always conscious of energy costs since it's a cost you can't 'see.'

WowOoo Tue 03-Dec-13 18:49:22

Non tester

Tips: close doors, don't leave things on standby, only boil as much water as needed for a cuppa.
When I work from home I layer up - I can't justify putting the heating on for the benefit of one person. Not yet anyway!
It's hard to get my youngest to turn off lights but my older child is better at turning off things once he's finished.

Fumnudge Tue 03-Dec-13 19:43:21

In any rooms not used in the day, such as the bedrooms, I keep the curtains closed all day. It's dark when we get up and when we get home and the amount of heat it keeps in is amazing.
I've also made draft excluders from old curtains for all the doors downstairs so we can keep the through lounge toastie. The kids enjoyed stuffing them with old cushion innards.

lozster Wed 04-Dec-13 00:10:00

Non tester

I am on mat leave so watching the pennies whilst also being at home more and worrying about the welfare of my baby. I don't have a budget - I just try to minimise the energy use in my household. Without re-listing some more obvious ones, Here my tips and behaviours:

1. Make the most of sunshine - even in the autumn and winter the sun does pop out. I open the curtains as wide as possible on the sunny side of the house and shut them on the other. I also open the inner door on my south facing porch to let the heat in. If you have one sunny room use that one rather than heat a dark one
2. Only heat water as needed - exactly that really! We can get by with heating water every other day. Lots of appliances are cold feed only now anyway. If I need to wash something by hand I boil a kettle with just the amount I need. I also bought a baby bath for a few quid from ikea so little one gets one kettle hot to two kettles cold for his bath if there isn't enough in the tank. I think taking the hot water off a timer has helped to keep our bill down.
3. Man made fibres are your friend - I thought the baby acrylic hand knits I got given were old fashioned until I tried to dry a 100% cotton hoodie cardigan. The hand knits come out of the washing machine dry! As do fleeces - I won't be taking my little one back to the sweaty 70's but I'll be looking for fleece type outer garments for him and me!!
4. Use less hot water - dont fight a stream of hot water when applying products, turn the water off in between. It saves money and makes applying products easier.
5. Get out and about - go for a walk or go to the library or childrens centre.
6. Move around - plan to have the heating on when you are sedentary. If you are cleaning or cooking, you may not need it.
7. Keep the heat where you need it - don't heat rooms you are not using (but use them and heat them from time to time to stop damp). Shut doors - as I tell my other half, there is no point turning the radiator off in a room if you leave the door open and the other radiators are fighting to maintain the temperature.
8. Heat the easiest room - I have one room only on each floor that has three internal walls so I use these as they retain their heat better. My partner works at home sometimes and pops a heater under the desk so the warmth stays where it is needed
9. Layer up - thermals below and blankets on top
10. Don't overdo it - people and houses need some heat in
them. My baby is my priority. I wouldn't like an elderly person to follow these tips either - they need to stay warm in more than one room.

WaitingForPeterWimsey Wed 04-Dec-13 22:17:59

We've just got a wifi thermometer - hopefully saving lots smile

WaitingForPeterWimsey Wed 04-Dec-13 22:18:19

I mean thermostat blush

CheeryCherry Thu 05-Dec-13 03:17:49

Definitely switch off lights, keep them to a minimum - light candles instead/ as well.
We use an old fashioned airer which pulls up to the ceiling, works wonders as it uses all that rising hot air.
Check window seals and have thick curtains at all windows and outside doors. Make sure the cat flap closes properly!
Change energy suppliers regularly to get the best deals.

gazzalw Thu 05-Dec-13 13:33:50

My top tip would be to not leave anything on stand-by (not only to save energy but to reduce fire risks too) ever! And at this time of the year that includes the Christmas Tree lights too!

Hopezibah Thu 05-Dec-13 23:04:57

non-tester - I show the kids the elec and gas meter spinning and the readings and when they see them going up, they realise just how much energy is being used and it helps them remember to turn off those light switches and the TV when no-ones watching.

I explain that the more they can save energy, the more money there will be for Christmas presents and of course, the happier the penguins and polar bears will be as it helps stop their ice caps melting!

We've just found out about chimney balloons so we're going to get one to help keep the warmth in as we don't have a fire in our fireplace so theres no need for a huge gap for cold air to come down.

Uzma01 Fri 06-Dec-13 16:33:22

Batch cook to save on cooking related costs & defrost in the fridge overnight.

Turn things off at the plugs when not in use.

Turn off lights & radiators in rooms that aren't in use.

Extra layers (clothes/blankets etc) and heating on for short bursts.

Insulating foam tape to plug the gaps around the front door/frame.

Non testers:
1. We'd love to know what your top tips are for saving gas and electricity around the home. What precautions do you take? How easy do your children find it to follow these steps to saving energy? How do you keep an eye on the amount of energy you use in your home? Do you manage to stick to a budget?

Top tips:

LED bulbs instead of standard energy saving ones wherever possible, especially the bathroom / landing light that the needs to be on all night for the children.

Jumper on before heating up.

Blankets on legs while watching TV at night rather than turning heating up.

Lots of loft insulation

Make sure curtains aren't covering radiators - or drying clothes for that matter!

Close curtains as soon as it goes dark - put long curtains on the windowsill if they hang over a radiator.

Curtains should have thick (thermal if possible) linings to help prevent against heat loss when closed.

It is only switched on if in use - lights off if you're last to leave a room.

"Bye Bye standby" devices to prevent using electricity when devices are on standby.

Charging mobile phone at work via laptop or in car rather than in house overnight.

Replacing appliances with most energy efficient models as and when old ones require replacing.

New, A rated tumble drier consumes less electricity to dry a load of washing than putting radiators on to dry clothes hanging on them!

If you want to bake something, plan to put it in the oven before your tea needs to go in the oven so you only need to pre-heat the oven once, or if the meal and baking can be on the same temperature, put them in at the same time.

Batch cook (at least two family sized portions at once)/ batch bake. Microwaving frozen pre-made meals consumes less electricity (and time and effort) than cooking one meal from scratch again.

My children are under 3 so I don't yet have the issue of lots of plug-in gadgets of theirs to worry about. My eldest already reminds me to turn lights off as we're leaving a room. Sometimes she's most forceful and is unimpressed when I tell her the lights are off, I can't turn off the sun too!

We have a smart meter to keep an eye on our consumption, and switch suppliers regularly to ensure we are paying the lowest price possible.

Our direct debit for gas usually is more than we consume during warmer months, so we let the credit acrue so that in cold months it acts as a buffer so we don't suddenly find out direct debits have been increased. If there is any of this "buffer" left by March we ask for it back. If you're on a budget and do this, the money back could be used to buy something that will save you more energy, e.g. more loft insulation / reflective sheets for behind radiators / thicker linings for curtains, etc.

We don't have a budget as such, more that we try to save energy where we can and keep an eye on how much we're using, and who has the best deals. We've currently got a price freeze 2 year deal (no penalty charge for early exit though) which we got through a comparison website that was also offering cashback. We've saved money on the cost of the energy, and the cashback money basically means we had a month's electricity free!

addictedtosugar Sun 08-Dec-13 15:21:20

Wear socks! Make you feel much warmer, so you can turn down the heating.

sealight123 Sun 08-Dec-13 21:28:05

Non Tester tips-

Put on the heating when you need it. If you're out at work all day there is no reason to have the heating on for the invisible man at home. Same with the lights too.

Use energy saving bulbs where ever possible

Turn off everything overnight and when not in- TV's, PC's, everything

Wear more layers :P

Make sure any gaps in doors and windows are covered to stop any drafts coming in (and the heat getting out)

Get a clothes horse...no point having the heating on and having all of that warmth trapped under you soggy clean clothes now is there?

Blankets and hot water bottles galore!!!!

And of course cuddle more smile

manfalou Mon 09-Dec-13 11:25:37

Non Tester..

As I'm now a SAHM we found the bills were higher as I'm in all the time. We are trying to layer up more, trying to stay in the same room helps too. Defintly have the energy saving bulbs and don't switch the light on until we really have to. when we have cooked dinner we keep the kids in the lounge and leave the oven door open to make use of that heat. Switch all unnesscery appliances off. We made use of the free cavity wall insulation too (well we had to pay £100 towards it) to try and make things better. To be honest our windows are the main issue in our house and we can't afford to have them replaced.

caramal Mon 09-Dec-13 13:09:57

as money is tight at the moment we are doing what we can to keep the house warm for less and we have noticed a difference
-we try to keep all doors closed to keep heat in
-we set out hearing on a timer or turn it off and on at regular intervals
- use draft excluders under some of the doors
-turn individual heaters down or off in rooms that are not in use all of the time
- don't have heating on when we are out or at night.

ederney Mon 09-Dec-13 18:23:03

bought a dryer from Lakeland its 5p an hour . no more tumble dryer.
used it in sitting room to take the chill off and the bed room when ill

cheshirekat1 Tue 10-Dec-13 12:33:52

Non tester

Wear socks/slippers at all times! Found out our boiler in new house (3 yrs old) is most effective being switched on constantly rather than intermittently (ie twice a day) for heating and water. We have it set to 19degrees and layer up clothes where necessary. We turn it down when we are out for long stints.

Shut curtains in kitchen on patio doors as although newish and double glazed they still have a draft.

Turn off everything on standby and have replaced all our bulbs to low energy and also lower energy halogen/led bulbs (expensive to buy but lower in long run) also got a dimmer on them so not always at full brightness.

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