How to run an energy efficient home

Today, ideas for how to run a more energy efficient home – and world – are becoming increasingly important. So, as we spring forward by one hour, let’s take a look at which parts of your house are the most power-crazed – and how they can dial it down a bit.

Last updated: 11th May 2020 at 11:28am

Washing machines and tumble dryers

A large portion of our energy consumption is through appliances – and washing machines are one of the most megalomaniac (potentially costing over £100 annually depending on the model, programming and how often it’s used). Follow these simple energy-saving tips:

  • Do you wash your clothes at 40°C? Turning the temperature down to 30°C can reduce costs by about 46% – this is because washing machines use 90% of their energy to heat water. Try using a 30°C cycle – and the occasional hot wash to get rid of bacteria/tough stains.
  • Do you, like 55% of people, ‘quick wash’ regularly? According to Which?, quick washes are not as efficient as we’d like to think – but are fine for clothes without tough stains/lingering smells, such as shirts you’ve worn to the office for one day.
  • While the British climate is not the most reliable, try drying your clothes on a washing line in the summer instead of using a tumble dryer, which are notoriously power-hungry. In winter, try drying clothes on a hanging rack in a well-ventilated room – or you can save costs just by using your dryer once less per week.

Similarly, waiting until you have a full load until you do your laundry and turning off your appliances when they’re not in use can help save you money in the long run – and reduce your carbon footprint.

Fridge-freezers

A fridge-freezer uses electricity 24/7, so it’s smart to invest in one that is as efficient as possible (labelled with an energy star rating (A+++ to G)), while following these tips:

  • Don’t hold the door. The longer you leave the door open, the warmer air can enter (the harder your fridge will have to work to chill again).
  • Don’t fill it completely. This will cut the air circulation meaning the appliance will have to work harder to cool down.
  • Set your fridge temperature to below 5°c and your freezer at 18°C – which affects how long food lasts and how efficiently the appliances can run.

Electric Kettles

While a lower energy consumer than the washing machine, electric kettles are also one of the most popular appliances (40% of people use it at least five times a day!) – and one of the most inefficiently used. We drink around 165 million cups of tea every day, so next time you’re heading for a dose of the nation’s favourite drink, remember:

At this point, let’s take a break from appliances to consider another great place to look for energy savings: electronics.

TVs, computers and phones

On average, we watch 19 hours of TV every week – our televisions account for around 33% of our electrical bill. With LED technology the new standard and plasma screens bowing out of the limelight, televisions are now more energy efficient than before. But here’s how to gain higher definition on your energy savings:

  • According to a Uswitch survey, 42% of people like to leave the TV on for a pet. If your TV is not being watched, put it on standby – or even better, turn it off completely.
  • Don’t constantly charge phones and other devices up to 100% – this harms the battery in the long run.
  • Send your computer to sleep/hibernation mode when not in use – or turn it off completely. We waste up to £80 a year leaving our electronics on standby.

Speaking of hibernation mode, do you like to crank the heating up in the winter, including when you’re not at home?

Heating

We waste over £2.2 billion a year heating our homes when we don’t need to (for 6.5 hours a week!) – it’s one of the most common energy-wasting habits. Want to change?

  • Set lower temperatures for the parts of your home that you don’t always use.
  • Try turning down your central heating by just 1°C, which can save you around £80 per year.
  • While we live in a world where you can have a conversation with your fridge, consider if you could benefit from a smart thermostat to control your heating remotely.

Lastly, always remember …

Lights will guide you home

… and make you more energy efficient. As a nation, we waste £4.4 billion every year by leaving the lights on unnecessarily. If you’re scratching your head for a brilliant idea to become more energy efficient, the light bulb is a great place to start.

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