Energy saving tips that work

With several of the Big Six already announcing price hikes, and the remainder surely soon to follow, Brits up and down the country are searching for ways to cut down on their energy bills this winter.

Energy saving tips

Pic: Getty

There is plenty of advice out there about how to save energy around the home, so here's our quick guide to the ones that really work.

All day or timed heating?
It's not entirely clear whether keeping the heating on low (around 15 degrees) all day or just firing it up at intervals is the more energy efficient. However, if your home is not well insulated, leaving the heating on all the time will almost certainly work out more expensive, as heat will be lost throughout the day. If you have a poorly-insulated home but an efficient modern boiler, make use of the timer settings and radiator thermostats, and set your heating to come on before you get up or come home from work to keep you cosy.

If you are at home all day, make use of room or radiator thermostats, so that you can control the heating in each individual room. According to Money Saving Expert, a room thermostat could save you around £70 a year, while thermostatic radiator valves could save £10 a year.

What if I don't have central heating?
It's true that central heating is generally the cheapest way to heat your home, but we're not all lucky enough to have it, or the money to install it.

Unfortunately portable electric heaters can be pretty pricey to run, but the cheapest are commonly the oil-filled models. Although they take a long time to heat up, the room will generally retain the heat better than a halogen heater, saving you money in the long run.

Hot water
For anyone with a gas or oil central heating system, it is always best to heat water only when needed. However, if you rely on an electrical immersion heater for your baths and showers, it could be worth switching to an Economy 7 tariff, where you can heat water more cheaply during the night. For this to really save you cash, however, you'll need a well insulated tank so that it stays hot throughout the day. Check with your energy supplier as to the tariff you are on, and whether Economy 7 is an option.

If you are on an Economy 7 tariff, you may find that it's cheaper to run appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines during the night when you pay less, provided your appliances are safe, and your neighbours understanding!

Standby savvy
It may not save you a fortune, but it is true that leaving TVs, games consoles and DVD players on standby is money down the drain, so switch electrical goods off at the wall when you go to bed.

Chargers for laptops and mobile phones also use power when they are plugged in but not in use, but according to British Gas, branded chargers are generally the most efficient, and some, including Apple, turn themselves off once disconnected from the device itself.

While we're on the subject of switching things off, why leave lights on in an empty room?

Tumble dry or heating?
In the energy efficiency stakes tumble dryers are poor performers - and are the single most energy-hungry appliance in the home. According to Which?, less-efficient models can use up £100 plus worth of electricity a year. If you're considering buying a new ones, make sure it's at least B or C rated - a newer A-rated model will get your bill down even quicker.

To save money, always use a fast spin on your washing machine – this will give clothes a head start before they get to the dryer. Fill it up, but don't overstuff, each time you use it and empty the lint filter after each use. Take care to fasten duvet covers before you put them in – to prevent other items getting inside and making a wet ball that takes longer to dry. Finally, don't forget to set the timer (over-drying damages clothes and wastes energy) and try to dry light and heavy fabrics separately. Mixing different weight fabrics in the same load causes the dryer to run longer than necessary.

Alternatively, put your washing on a clothes horse when your heating would normally come on anyway, thereby saving money. In an ideal world, put them in a room that's not frequently used, and open a window to allow moisture to escape.

What tips and tricks do you use to keep your energy bills to a minimum? Leave your comments below...