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Blog Post 23 May 2024 Updated 24 May 2024

Avoid these seven common mistakes that waste energy

If you want to lower your energy bills, the first step is to stop using energy needlessly.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that you might want to avoid.

Using the wrong appliance when cooking

If you’re cooking a meal for one, having to preheat a whole oven could be a huge drain on your energy.

For example, cooking a 600g chicken breast in an air fryer costs £0.14 in Great Britain (GB) and £0.21 in Northern Ireland (NI).

Cooking the same chicken breast in an electric oven means you pay £0.20 in GB and £0.29 in NI.

That might not seem like much. But if you consistently use the wrong appliance while cooking, you could be paying quite a bit more than you need to.

For more information, see our blog on which cooking appliance is cheapest.

Filling your freezer when you go on holiday

You might have heard two conflicting holiday energy saving tips in the past:

  • empty and switch off your fridge/freezer
  • fill your fridge and freezer with bottles of water or newspaper

Both of these ‘tips’ aren’t worth the effort required.

Most of the energy in your fridge/freezer is lost when:

  • you open the door
  • there’s a build up of ice that stops the appliance working efficiently

You being away for a week or so means the freezer door stays closed, so no worries there. Filling the freezer with something other than food means you’re likely to keep the door open for longer to get everything back out again.

It’s a good idea to defrost your freezer regularly so it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep things cold. Since it’s not going to be used for a week or so, make a point of defrosting it before you leave so there’s no build up of ice while you’re away.

Having your boiler flow temperature set too high

Conventional boilers with hot water cylinders need to be set at 65 degrees to keep legionella bacteria away.

There’s no real good reason to have it set any hotter. It also means your boiler isn’t running as efficiently as it could be, which drives up your energy bills.

Try lowering your flow temperature to 65 degrees and see how it helps. If you have a combi boiler with no hot water cylinder, you can lower this even more. But be ready to turn it up again if your radiators can’t keep your home warm enough during a cold spell.

We’ve got more advice on our guide to boiler flow temperature.

Not making the most of your outdoor space in the summer

As the days get warmer and sunnier, not taking advantage of the free, infinite power of the sun could be costing you.

Although it’s a bit more effort to hang your clothes out on the line outside, relying exclusively on your tumble dryer for all your clothes drying wastes £50 a year in GB and £75 in NI.

If the weather’s not perfect for drying outside, use a drying rack with lots of space around it in the warmest room of your house . The extra space means there’s greater airflow so the clothes dry faster and more evenly.

You should make sure there’s enough ventilation in the room to get rid of the water vapour that the clothes give up so you don’t end up with any probems from condensation.

For more summer tips, check out our blog on keeping your home cool in summer.

Blond young woman stands at the kitchen window and pours some water from a kettle into a mug

Filling the kettle every time you want a cuppa

According to World Tea News, Brits drink around three cups of tea a day, on average. That’s over 1,000 cups a year. With that in mind, it’s worth paying attention to how much energy you’re wasting every time you make a brew.

If you’re only making one cup of tea, fill the kettle to boil enough water for one cup of tea. Anything else is costing you around £10 a year in GB and 14 in NI.

The tr ouble is that many kettles have a ‘minimum water level’ of around 500ml. That’s more than you need for a standard mug and around twice the amount needed for a teacup.

You can buy kettles that have a ‘one cup marker’ so you know you’re only boiling as much water as you need.

Get more tips on saving energy in the kitchen.

Relying on smart plugs and smart lights

There’s no denying the convenience of smart home technology. And with the ability to automate and routines for lights and appliances, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this tech will always save you energy.

But that’s not always the case. Both smart plugs and smart bulbs are ‘always on’. They stay in standby mode and wait for a signal to turn on or off. That means you’re always using a little bit of power, even when everything’s switched off.

Smart plugs can still save you energy if they’re controlling something that uses a lot of unnecessary power throughout the day, but smart lights are very unlikely to save you anything at all.

If in doubt, just turn things off when you don’t need them.

For more information, check out our blog on whether smart homes are the key to a lower carbon footprint.

Looking only at energy ratings when buying appliances

Energy rating labels are a great way to compare appliances to find the most energy efficient model.

But the energy rating of your appliances isn’t the only factor you should think about when you buy a new TV or dishwasher.

Generally, the bigger the appliance the more energy it uses, regardless of its energy rating.

Let’s look at TVs. A 40-inch TV with an energy rating of G costs £35 a year in GB and £55 in NI.

But a larger, 60-inch TV with a better rating of F costs £40 in GB and £40 in NI.

So going for a larger TV because it says it’s more energy efficient could be costing you more in the long run.

Instead of relying solely on the energy rating, look at the energy consumption figures on the energy label. These usually show:

  • kWh per 1000 hours of use
  • kWh per 100 cycles / washes
  • kWh per annum

For more information, see our guide to choosing energy efficient appliances.

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Last updated: 24 May 2024