Energy efficiency is on many people's minds these days, and even if your reasons for making your home 'greener' are less to do with saving the environment than saving money, choosing more efficient products can make a big difference.
While insulation and double glazing will undoubtedly save energy and money during the cold winters, there are a number of smaller appliances and devices that can cut your bills without costing the earth. Check out our guide on energy saving appliances to see where you could save cash over the long term.
From cookers and dishwashers to fridges and kettles, kitchen appliances are undoubtedly becoming more and more energy efficient so if you are thinking of buying a new one, it pays to check the energy rating. The Energy Saving Trust provides a recommended list of all kinds of products to give you a better idea of what to buy, and all new appliances come with a clearly labelled energy rating.
Before you snap up the A++ rated fridge freezer, however, bear in mind that energy ratings are based on classification by size, and it could pay to buy a smaller fridge with only an A rated. To easily compare appliances of different sizes, check the annual energy consumption displayed at the bottom right of the energy label.
There's money and energy to be saved on small appliances too - though the saving is small, picking products that don't have unnecessary lights saves energy. And if you're a big tea drinker, consider a one-cup type that takes just seconds to provide your cuppa, or try something like the Philips Energy Efficient Kettle, which has a one cup indicator so that you don't boil more than you need.
Washing and drying
As with other kitchen appliances, a new washing machine will save energy and water, and to get the best you should wash at low temperature (30 degrees) and wait until you have a full load. To easily compare those machines that are available by cost, energy and water used, visit sust-it.net, which provides all the data you need.
The tumble dryer is one of the most expensive products we use at home, and you could save a packet by drying your washing outdoors. In the winter, though, that's not always an option, but there are more energy efficient products on the market. Gas tumble driers are much cheaper to run than the standard electric variety, but they're not suitable for everyone as they do require a gas connection and will therefore be more expensive to install.
Electric heat pump driers are another alternative, as they recycle the heat from the ventilation tube, sending it back into the drier itself. If those options are too pricey, choose a product that includes a sensor to alert you when your load is dry to prevent running this energy-hungy machine unnecessarily.
Home entertainment and computers
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the computers, printers, monitors and laptops in the average British home amount to an astonishing 13 per cent of the electricity we consume. To keep your bills down as much as possible, the Trust recommends using a laptop as opposed to a desktop, which uses up to 85 per cent less electricity over the course of a year, so it's definitely worth considering. If that's not an option, check out the Trust's recommended products to ensure you're getting a machine that saves money when running as well as in sleep or standby mode.
When it comes to home entertainment, the TV is the hungriest of appliances, and as a general rule, the bigger it is, the more electricity it consumes, so you could save money by buying only the size you really need.
But one of the big problems with home entertainment gadgets is that we so often leave them on standby, which means we're paying for energy we don't actually use. Nowadays there are a number of standby savers on the market that eliminate this unnecessary energy use completely. Plugs and sockets that come either with timers or an off switch mean you can plug all your home entertainment and computing equipment into them, and not pay when they're not being used. There are even foot switches and remote controlled versions for hard-to-reach sockets.
Finally, if you are hoping to make your home more energy efficient with new and greener appliances, you might find it satisfying to splash out on a monitor to see just how much you've used, saved, and reveal where you could cut back even more. Efergy's Engage Hub monitors your electricity usage and sends it direct to the Internet so you can view, compare and reduce your bills.