It’s no secret that we are in the middle of an energy crisis and it is only going to get worse as we approach winter. The winter months are dreary enough as it is, cold mornings, shorter days and dark evenings, then add sky high energy bills on top of that and you have a recipe for misery. But don’t worry, there is always something that can be done to make things better. Let’s look at a few tips for saving money on energy costs this winter:
1. Tackle Draughts:
No we’re not talking about the game of checkers, although swapping a Netflix binge for a game of draughts would save you energy too. The draughts we are referring to are the kind that sneak into your home through any crack and crevice available. Draughts pose two issues within a home: firstly, they allow cold gusts of air to enter the house making you more likely to turn on your heating and secondly, once your heating is turned on, they allow the heat to escape through their point of entry. The easiest way to solve this problem is to install a draught excluder. Front doors are the most common culprit for draughts, so consider placing an excluder here. There are many different types of excluders:
- Self-adhesive edging strip
- Brush strip
- Hinged flap
- Efficient letter box flap
- Soft pillow excluder
2. Turn off Standby Mode:
According to Electric Ireland, appliances still use 20% of the electricity that they normally use when they are on standby mode – yikes! Think of all of the appliances you have in your home; your TV, your kettle, your dishwasher, your computer…the list goes on. There are two main ways to solve this issue:
- Install wall sockets with switches – most modern wall sockets have switches on them. Essentially these switches isolate power to that circuit which means that when you turn the switch off, it cuts off the flow of electricity to the appliance.
- Unplug appliances completely/Turn off Socket Switch – to ensure that electricity is not being used wastefully, either plug the appliance out or turn off the switch on the wall socket.
3. Don’t Overfill the Kettle:
On average, it costs 6 cent to boil a full kettle with a capacity of 1.7 litres. If you boil your kettle at full capacity 5 times a day, it works out at €9 per month. There is a way of cutting this cost in half and that is by reducing the quantity of water in your kettle. If you are only making a single cup of tea or coffee, use a cup to measure out exactly how much water you need – this way you avoid using unnecessary energy by boiling too much water.
4. Save Hot Water – Use a Flask:
We’re all human and sometimes it can be difficult to remember to not overfill the kettle, especially when you’re freezing and still half asleep. Fear not, the energy does not have to go to waste. Simply put the remaining boiling water into a flask. By doing this, you can use extra boiling water throughout the day.
You could in fact go one step further and invest in a thermo pot. A thermo pot is essentially a kettle and a flask in one – it boils water and then maintains it at a constant temperature so that it can be used throughout the day. Have a look at this portable 5 litre thermo pot.
5. Buy Low-Energy Light Bulbs (LED):
According to Electric Ireland, “LED bulbs use up to 85% less electricity than traditional light bulbs and 95% of that energy is converted to light with only 5% wasted as heat.” To briefly explain the science of this, LED bulbs contain a semiconductor which basically allows light to be emitted directly from the input source. By contrast, traditional light bulbs (e.g. incandescent bulbs, neon lights, halogen lamps) need to heat materials such as metals and gases in order for light to be emitted. On top of this, LEDs last much longer than conventional bulbs which will save you money on replacements over time. LEDs can last up to 20,000 hours in comparison to the 2000 hours of regular bulbs.
6. Go for Cooler (full) Washes:
Switching to cold or at least colder clothes washes can greatly reduce your energy costs. According to the General Electric Company, approximately 75-90% of the energy used by your washing machine goes into heating the water. A lot of people are under the impression that washing clothes with colder water won’t clean them properly, however this is not the case. In fact there are a lot of benefits to cold washes:
- Less fabric shrinking
- Less colour fading
- Less wrinkles
- Better for delicate fabrics
7. Turn your Thermostat Down:
An easy way to save money on your energy bill is to turn your thermostat down a few degrees. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about freezing yourself to death just to save some money. But turning down your thermostat at night when everyone is going to bed is a great way of saving energy. Not only will it save you money but it might actually improve your sleep. When our body temperature drops, we naturally produce more melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep patterns.
8. Use a Smart Meter:
Smart meters are electronic devices that record all of the energy data within a building. The main difference between smart meters and standard meters is that smart meters send the recorded data to your energy provider. This means that instead of paying for estimated energy use, you will pay for actual energy use. Having a smart meter is also a great way of identifying granular energy information such as which days you consume the most energy and which appliances are costing you the most.
9. Shower Smarter:
According to the Irish Times, it costs 68 cent to have a 10 minute shower. This might not seem like a lot of money but it quickly adds up, especially if there is more than one person living in the house, taking multiple showers per week. I am definitely not promoting the idea of giving up your personal hygiene routine, however, there are steps you can take to make that routine more energy efficient. Such steps include:
- Cold Showers: Similar to washing machines, the majority of energy used by an electric shower goes into heating the water. Therefore, it makes sense that having a cold shower reduces energy costs. Cold showers also have many health benefits such as: improving metabolism, increasing circulation and reducing anxiety.
- Shorter Showers: If the cold showers are simply a no-go for you, try limiting your shower time as much as you can.
- Make Use of your Gym’s Facilities: If you are a member of a gym, consider using their showering facilities instead of waiting until you get home.
10. Work Smarter:
We’re living in the age of remote workers and digital nomads and while this brings a lot of freedom to the individual, it also has some downsides – namely, energy costs! Pre-Covid, we left our homes in the morning and returned late in the evening. Now we are home a LOT more. Whether you’re a hybrid worker or fully remote, that is eight hours a few days a week of energy use that simply didn’t exist previously. So, what can we do about this? We can’t simply stop working, of course not (although I’m sure a few of you are tempted) but there are a few things that you can do to limit your household energy use during the day.
- Get Back to the Office: I know, I know, this is not the answer you wanted to hear but it makes sense. Some people may be saving a lot of money on transport costs by working from home but for those that live close to their place of work, it might be worth availing of your employer’s electricity when you can. Even if you are claiming remote working relief, going into the office a few days a week is sure to save you money!
- Work from a Cafe: Who doesn’t love a cozy cafe and a big cup of coffee? If you live close to a cafe, you should consider working from there a few hours a week to save your own energy. Most Starbucks actually have designated work station areas in their cafes for exactly this reason. If the hustle and bustle of cafes are too much for you, you could always go to your local library for a quieter work atmosphere.
I’m sure there are plenty more ways to save money on energy costs but I hope you find the tips above helpful. Wishing everyone a wonderful and warm festive season 🙂