Eight ways to start saving energy – and money – this winter

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Piggy banks saving money

It’s happened. I saw my first Christmas advert of the year the other week. It means the festive countdown is well and truly on.

It’s also hit home that winter is on its way. We’ve just braved what experts predicted would be the worst storm for decades (thankfully we were largely unaffected) and, although temperatures for this time of year remain relatively warm, they are slowly dropping.

Only recently, Public Health England launched its ‘cold weather plan’ to help people plan get through the winter. A lot of the subsequent media coverage focused on its advice for people to keep their homes well heated, to reduce potential cold-related deaths.

That’s all well and good, but it’s advice that not all people can afford to follow. Having your heating on constantly is expensive, especially when energy firms keep pushing up their prices. Last year, we didn’t switch on our central heating properly until November and I know it was something my husband wanted to repeat this year (and something we’ve largely managed to stick to). We want to keep our family warm and cosy, but we didn’t want to rack up unmanageable bills. It can be a fine line.

With that in mind, we have a few ‘rules’ we try to follow to manage our energy consumption as best we can.

Invest in some jumpers

Do you really need your central heating on or will another layer of clothing do? It’s always a useful question to ask. Obviously, there’ll come a time when the answer to this question is a big, fat ‘no’, but it’s definitely a question to think about when we’re on the cusp of winter.

Does that thermostat really need to be so high? 

Estimates show that turning down the central heating by just one degree could shave £60 off the average household’s gas bill (depending on your usage). Making even small changes to the settings on your central heating can make a big difference.

Buy a timer for the shower 

Showers are much more economical than baths, but it’s still easy to waste water (and energy) by spending too long under the nozzle. Buy a 5-minute timer for when you’re in the shower. It may not sound like a long time, but you’ll be surprised.

Switch off that television! 

It’s really easy to hit that ‘standby’ button on the TV remote control when it’s time to switch off and go to bed. I do it quite a lot much to my husband’s chagrin. It may not even cross your mind, but putting your television on standby, rather than switching it off altogether, is an unnecessary waste of energy. Remember, when you’re about to switch off your television, turn it off properly.

Become a night (laundry) owl 

Energy becomes much cheaper when it’s used ‘off-peak’ (early in the morning or late at night). Doing your washing in the evening and having it dry in your tumble dryer overnight will help save you money. If you invest in energy efficient models so much the better too.

Are you insulated? 

Getting your loft and cavity walls insulated may sound expensive, but it can help you save money in the long-run. My husband and I were surprised at the difference it made when we insulated our attic; it’s certainly helped keep the heat inside the house rather than drift out through the walls or roof.

Get your boiler serviced regularly 

A well-running boiler is more efficient and consumes less energy than one that has been left ‘unloved’. Make sure you get your boiler serviced regularly. Aside from saving energy, it’ll help guard against carbon monoxide leakages and breakdowns. Get some boiler cover if you can afford it.

Make the energy companies work for you 

Your actions can reduce your energy expenditure and costs, but suppliers can help too. E.ON wants to actively encourage consumers to save energy by reducing consumption. It might sound strange that a company wants to sell less of its product, but when more people are doing their bit to have a positive effect on the planet it’s refreshing to find a major corporation who thinks along the same lines.

E.ON has launched a special online tool to help its customers work out how you could make savings by comparing your energy consumption with that of others in your local areas. The Saving Energy Toolkit is designed to help you see how you’re doing in comparison to your peers, allowing you to identify if there is a need to change your habits or usage levels.

There is a wealth of energy saving information on their website for customers who manage their account online, to help you see how you use energy and where you could make positive changes.

Do you have any other tips to save energy during the cold weather?

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