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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

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,


KatieBMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 20-Dec-13 14:14:48

Thank you for all your comments. The winner of the prize draw is...


Congratulations, we'll PM you to get your details.

RemoteControlGeekToyOfTheYear Thu 19-Dec-13 12:21:29

Non testers: We'd love to know what your top tips are for saving gas and electricity around the home.
Curtains and draught excluders to help keep the heat in, closing doors particularly between colder or unheated areas of the house and the rooms you are in helps to save gas too. Setting computers to sleep after a shorter period of time, making use of half-load buttons on appliances if only dealing with a small number of items, switching to low energy bulbs has all helped us to save on our electricity.

How easy do your children find it to follow these steps to saving energy?
No children, but I do find myself constantly shouting 'born in a barn' at DP when he leaves the door between the kitchen diner and the freezing cold utility open!

How do you keep an eye on the amount of energy you use in your home?
Those who know me from certain threads on here will not be surprised that I spreadsheet everything - I have historical tracking spreadsheets, forecast spreadsheets, this year v previous years spreadsheets, the works. I take weekly meter readings and have even been known to watch the speed of the electricity wheel to see how much certain items use blush

Do you manage to stick to a budget?
Apparently so - having just entered my latest winter meter readings online, I was surprised that instead of going up, my monthly direct debit payments have in fact gone down. This was surprising because our monthly payments were already low due to us being in credit with our supplier though this credit has now run dry.

mindingalongtime Wed 18-Dec-13 13:36:26

Non tester, don't bath the children everyday, much better for your bills and their skin too. We only bathed once a week on hairwash night and shared bath water, all three of us in together. We were always clean and I had lovely long hair too!

W don't stick to a budget, I just pay a monthly DD of £275 for both gas and elec, that is just 2 adults, the minded children don't have the heating on during the day, they keep warm by keeping active and we go out a lot.

I seldom use the oven, slow cook all the time, 3 sizes of slow cookers according to haw many I am cooking for, or freezing the extra.

I always tuen off the gas once the pasta and veg are in the pot, the residual heat cooks them as we like them al dente or crisp!

I only wash 2 loads a week, but tumble dry it all, dh has got used to swiftly straight out of the dryer and folded polo shirts and tees, sheets and shirts go to laundry as cheaper than washing and drying them. 5 shirts washed and ironed £5, I value my time as well as the cotton wash and ironing time saved.

mum2jakie Mon 16-Dec-13 21:42:25

"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?"

We don't have a budget for energy use/costs but I am always made more aware of our usage after every statement. I'm conscious that our usage is going up so this Winter I have invested in hot water bottles which the kids love and means that I don't need to put the heating on overnight. (I did do previously as the little one would wake up in the night otherwise.) The kids find this easy - not so much remembering to turn things off, especially lights!

My other tip is not to have a tumble dryer. I am still catching any dry/windy days whenever possible and managed to get a whole line full of bedding dry outside over the weekend!

Coffeechick Mon 16-Dec-13 20:10:57

I use the oven to cook a few things and not just the dinner and the second item cooked can be eaten for lunch the next day and just reheated in a microwave.

Also encouraging everyone to put on a jumper when they feel cold and not just to switch the heating on.

I have picked up tips such as only heating the water you need for a cup of tea and encourage family members to do this. smile

CaptainSinker Sun 15-Dec-13 19:51:42

Our main way of saving energy is switching off things that are not in use! DD is a little young to get this but we do try to encourage er to close doors to keep heat in etc. I also leave the hot water in the bath once DD is out as it heats up the bathroom better than the radiator!

Letitsnow9 Sun 15-Dec-13 15:17:02

I'm a non tester but my tip is the obvious yet so often not done- turn things off when not in use!

InkleWinkle Thu 12-Dec-13 20:50:09


We used the Smart Meter to set a budget at the beginning - we answered the questions about size of house / no of occupants etc and it set a budget for us. A budget which we were astounded at - £6 per day. We get quarterly bills so this would be £540 per quarter. Very unaffordable for us. (That was approx our bill for Dec 12- Mar 13) However, we left it & it was still mild etc so we were way under (thankfully) and it has recalculated our budget as £4 per day currently which we are OK with. It was a struggle recently during a cold spell but we reckon it will average out as less than that over the 90 day period.

To stick to this, we are ruthless about switching electrical items off when not in use. Our 3 year old is great at 'gently reminding' people especially her big sister to switch lights off! We try not to leave items on standby as much as possible. Our heating (because gas is the main expense) is on much less than before. There have been some great threads on Mumsnet recently about how to keep warm so we've used some of those ideas instead.

It has been hard to change habits but hopefully we have learned new habits now and no more bills in excess of £400.

However, BG have changed our tariff in the past couple of weeks. Fuel costs are less but there is now a daily standing charge which I don't think the Smart Meter counts in so over the past week or two it looks as though we have been charged much less but I need to investigate how much will be added on the the actual bill. Reserving judgement on this til I see how it affects budget!

DoctorGilbertson Tue 10-Dec-13 20:36:07


We are on economy 7 (electric heating and water on overnight) but my children greatly aid my energy saving efforts by getting up at 5am every morning so that I can run the dishwasher, tumble dryer and washing machine on the cheap rate.

Live in a terraced house and go to bed early are my other hints.

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.

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

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.

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.

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 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

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

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

BakingWithToddler Sun 08-Dec-13 09:47:23

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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.

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.

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