Using less energy doesn’t mean you have to go without heating, there are easy ways to make your home more energy efficient and save money at the same time.
We took to the forums to find out how Mumsnet users were saving energy and spoke to eco-energy experts to find easy ways for you to do your bit to help the environment and reduce your energy bill.
1. Go unplugged
Remembering to turn your TV, computer, and kitchen appliances off at the plug will instantly reduce your carbon footprint and save you between £40-£80 a year. Particularly if your household has loads of gadgets, including however many games consoles, any Bluetooth speakers and the washing machine.
It will make a noticeable difference to your energy bill if you (and the children) get into the habit of turning things off completely when they're not being used – just make sure everyone stays clear of the TV switch if you were hoping to record David Attenborough, of course.
2. Check you’re not paying too much for your energy
Okay, we agree this sounds like a lot of hard work, but checking that you’re on the best energy tariff is surprisingly simple and could save you a lot of money. In fact, on average you could save up to £174 by switching to ESB Energy today.
3. Don't leave the tap running (and seriously, fix that drip)
In rainy Blighty it can be hard to remember that water is a precious commodity. Being just a little more conscious of your water usage can have a big impact on the environment.
A dripping tap is not only annoying, it wastes more than 5,500 litres of water a year. Now think how much water you could save by not leaving the tap running full-throttle while brushing your teeth – and, ok, it might be easier to leave the tap running when you do the washing up, but if you fill and use a bowl instead you could reduce your water consumption in a significant way.
"When kids wash their hands, just get them to put a bit of water in the sink and use that rather than leave taps running".
"We keep a jug of water in the fridge so that we don't run the tap until the water gets cold enough to drink".
4. Flip the switch - and use energy-efficient bulbs
How many times have you told the children to turn off the lights when they leave a room? If they (and you) can get into the habit, you could save energy and £50 a year.
LED light bulbs use 90% less electricity than other bulbs and can last up to 10 times longer than an ordinary bulb meaning you could save you about £50 over the lifetime of the bulb. Let's say you switched the living room, two bedrooms and both the upstairs and downstairs hallway bulbs –you'd save yourself £91 a year.
I had a main light in my living room with old-style energy saving bulbs (five bulbs in the one fitting), but when I got an energy monitor I saw just how much electricity it was using. I now use a table lamp with an LED bulb which doesn't even register on the monitor, and gives a nicer light.
5. Say goodbye to those bubble baths
Ok, we're not saying you should never take a bath again, but it's widely known that you tend to use much less water if you take a shower instead. And the shorter the shower the better: if you cut the time by just one minute a day, you could save yourself £10 over a year – would you even notice the difference?
If we're__ totally__ honest, though, it's often said that fancy modern high-power showers can use as much water in five minutes you'd use filling a bath, so it's also worth looking into the energy efficiency of shower heads to see how yours compares.
"A bath will use about a hundred litres of water, and a shower will use a lot less unless you have a drencher head (or stay under until you are pink and wrinkly). It's definitely worth running the shower into a bucket and timing it, to see how many litres per minute it delivers".
"I always take showers rather than a bath, and often switch off the shower while applying shampoo, conditioner and body wash, too".
6. Buy energy efficient appliances
For the appliances you simply can't turn off at the wall (fridges and freezers, for example), make sure you buy something which is highly energy efficient so it's not using more energy than necessary.
When your appliances have run their course and it’s time to replace them, make sure to go for replacements with a high energy efficiency rating. You can find out how efficient an appliance is from the energy label displayed on it. The most efficient products are those rated as “A” and the least efficient are those rated “D”. For example, an A+++ fridge freezer will save you around £19 a year compared to an A+ model.
"Fridges use the most energy as they are on 24/7, so definitely try to get an energy efficient one".
7. Wash your clothes at a lower temperature
Doing your everyday laundry at 30 degrees rather than 40 can be a third cheaper, which means savings of up to £52 a year for a larger family household (depending how often you wash). Plus, a cooler load is better for the environment and kinder to your clothes (reducing colour loss and fabric damage).
Don't be afraid to run the occasional hotter load too, though, which you'll need to do for those really muddy washes. An occasional hotter wash helps to keep the washing machine itself clean and bacteria free.
"I wash all our clothes on 30° and it works perfectly. For really soiled baby things, I used to soak them first for a bit. Don't be scared, it'll do wonders for your bills (and the environment)."
8. Turn down your boiler's temperature
If you have an ordinary boiler, or water tank, turning down its temperature is an easy way to reduce your energy usage – you’ll wonder why you haven’t ever done it before. Just think about it: there isn’t all that much point in having your boiler produce scalding hot water when you’re simply going to add cold water to it when you take a bath or shower, or do some dishes.
All you’ve got to do is ensure your hot water tank’s both heating and storing your water at the temperature you prefer. If you wanted to go one step further you could also put a coat over your boiler to help keep the water temperature up between water heating times.
9. Put a jumper on
Nobody wants to be cold at home, but putting on a jumper and turning down your thermostat by just one or two degrees is an easy way to reduce your energy consumption. And did you know for every degree you turn your thermostat down by, you could save around £50 a year? Surely that's worth popping on an extra layer? Plus, make use of the timer too, so the heating and hot water only come on when you actually need them.
"We switch off the heating for 30 minutes every hour and put on another layer. We really don't notice the difference".
"Wear layers – for me, an outfit for the office is nowhere near warm enough for the house. Base layers from Uniqlo or M&S are easy to slip under things. Snuggle under a cheap fleece blanket".
10. Investigate where your heat is escaping
Letting heat escape and allowing cold air to come into your home is like chucking pound coins out the window (or at least through that hole they left in the wall when they fitted the new tumble dryer). So make sure any gaps in your walls and all windows, doors and loft hatches are sealed properly, hang thermal or heavy curtains over your windows and doors, and don't forget flaps and draft excluders for your letterbox.
If your house has a chimney but you never light a fire in it, make sure the chimney is blocked: heat can escape easily that way, and draughts can come down. You could cap the chimney, or, if you do light a fire occasionally, buy an inflatable chimney balloon – just don't forget (eek) to remove it before lighting the match.
"If you don't light a fire check whether there's a draught coming down the chimney. I put a chimney balloon up my chimney last winter and the difference it made is amazing".