Top ten energy saving tips

There are plenty of simple, everyday ways in which you can lower your energy costs, from turning off the lights to dialling down your thermostat. Read on for our top ten energy saving tips to reduce energy use at home.
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Piggy bank with lightbulb, showing that saving energy saves money

In this guide:

  • #1: Insulate your home

  • #2: Turn off your appliances

  • #3: Be mindful in the kitchen

  • #4: Replace your lightbulbs

  • #5: Install smart heating controls

  • #6: Maintain your HVAC system

  • #7: Upgrade your appliances

  • #8: Swap shower heads

  • #9: Weather-proof your home

  • #10: Understand your energy bill

#1: Insulate your home

A well-insulated home reduces unnecessary heat loss, so that your heating system doesn’t have to work so hard to bring it up to temperature. Up to one quarter of household heat escapes through the roof as hot air rises. Period properties with attic spaces and vaulted ceilings will need extra attention paid to the roof, while maintaining the home’s ventilation. Homes with cavity walls are also prone to heat loss without insulation, but solid walls can be insulated as well to lock in warmth. 

Energy Saving Trust figures show that installing cavity wall insulation could save up to £245 per year, while loft insulation saves up to £215. These figures will depend on the type of property you live in. Although insulating your home does require an initial financial outlay, it’s an action that can pay for itself many times over in the long run. 

#2: Turn off your appliances

Everything plugged in will use energy, even when the device itself is switched off. This includes cables or chargers. It’s estimated that up to 5-10% of a household energy bill stems from this phantom use of electricity. 

When you’re finished using an appliance, turn it off completely, including at the plug. Keeping appliances on standby mode drains unnecessary energy. According to Energy Saving Trust, you can save around £30 per year by turning appliances off fully instead of leaving them on standby.

You can switch most electronic appliances off at the plug, or you can opt for standby savers that let you control multiple appliances from a single control point. Although most televisions and electronic devices can be switched off completely without losing programming, be sure to check instructions for digital TV recorders. These will need to be left plugged in to record your favourite programme. 

#3: Be mindful in the kitchen

There are many ways to talk about how to save energy in the kitchen, but they all follow the same basic tip: be more aware of how you use energy. From hob to kettle, only use the water and heat that you need. You can shave approximately £36 per year from your energy bill by being more mindful of your kitchen appliance use and cooking more efficiently. Here are a few examples of what this looks like in practice:

  • Only fill your kettle with the amount of water that you need for each use 

  • Use a bowl or basin for your washing up rather than letting the tap run 

  • Reduce washing machine use by one cycle per week 

  • Use a microwave to heat your food quickly rather than a less efficient oven

  • Use a slow cooker to cook your food at a lower heat throughout the day

  • Defrost frozen food in the fridge overnight to halve cooking time

#4: Replace your lightbulbs

A very simple way to save energy at home is to replace older incandescent bulbs with either light-emitting diode (LED) or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. These energy-saving bulbs use a fraction of the energy of a typical incandescent bulb, and they last for far longer too. 

You might pay more initially to purchase energy-saving lightbulbs, but they’ll start paying for themselves immediately and you’ll have recouped the cost long before they need replacing. The Energy Saving Trust reckons that replacing all incandescent bulbs with LEDs would cost about £100 up front but would save the average household £35 per year on energy bills. 

Bonus tip

Another way to save money on lighting is to install dimmer switches. You’ll only need to light the room to the brightness of your choice, reducing energy use. 

#5: Install smart heating controls

Smart heating systems and energy-saving gadgets help you understand how your household uses energy. With a smart thermostat, you can control heating remotely using an app on your smartphone or computer. You’ll be able to manage your home’s temperature at any time of day, from any location, to ensure energy isn’t wasted unnecessarily. There’s really no need to leave the heat on when you’re not at home, and smart thermostats give you the ability to make changes on the go; they’re even smart enough to learn your habits over time to adjust heating automatically. 

Smart meters are different from smart thermostats in that they transmit accurate, real-time readings to your energy supplier. These come with in-home displays to help you monitor energy use, cutting waste as well. It’s estimated that paying attention to your smart meter’s in-home display could reduce your electricity use by 2.8% and gas use by 2%, so looking into energy saving gadgets might be a great investment. 

#6: Maintain your HVAC system

Your heating and cooling systems work hard to keep the home comfortable. It’s estimated that the average household HVAC system makes up 50% of its energy use overall. One small yet very significant thing that you can do to keep your HVAC systems working at peak efficiency is to replace your air filters regularly. Dirty, clogged filters make the system work unnecessarily hard, burning fuel or electricity as a result. 

Bleeding your radiators regularly and keeping on top of routine servicing of your boiler are also ways to make sure the system’s in the best possible shape. When the boiler comes to the end of its lifespan, it’s worth spending the money to replace it with a new, efficient model

#7: Upgrade your appliances

Like your boiler, major household appliances are rated for efficiency. Appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and refrigerators are responsible for a high proportion of your household’s overall energy consumption.

While upgrading these types of appliances can be a big investment, you’ll cut household energy use as a result. Look for models with an Energy Rating of A+++ for peak efficiency. Eco-friendly appliances not only use less electricity to run, but they are also designed to use less water. 

#8: Swap shower heads

Like switching lightbulbs to a more energy-efficient model, another simple solution is to replace your shower head. If your shower uses hot water from a tank, cistern or boiler, a water efficient design could save a four-person household up to £70 on gas and £115 on water bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

Modern low-flow shower heads are designed to feel as powerful as a regular shower, and some even filter or purify your water supply.

#9: Weather-proof your home

Like insulation, draught-proofing your home is essential for keeping heat from escaping through leaks. In fact, draught-proofing is listed as one of the top Uswitch energy saving tips. Most older properties will lose heat through these leaky areas around windows, doors, floor gaps and the chimney. You can draught-proof the home with tools like a chimney draught excluder and sealant materials. 

Seal off areas like joints between the ceiling and the tops of windows, around any bathroom vents, and near your building’s foundations.

#10: Understand your energy bill

To finish off our top ten energy saving tips, a great way to take control of your energy use is by understanding the terms on your bill. Your bill might seem confusing at first glance, but it’s packed with useful information related to your energy tariff, household consumption, and more. We’ve already mentioned using smart meters or heating controls to keep track of consumption, but this places a few additional tools at your fingertips. 

For example, your energy bill will list your personal projection. This is the amount your household is expected to spend on energy throughout the next 12 months, based on past usage. You may also see a Tariff Comparison Rate figure, which breaks down how much you’re spending per kilowatt hour of electricity and gas. 

This information makes it easier to talk about how to save energy. You can compare energy deals to potentially switch to a more favourable one. And if you’re consuming more energy than you think, you can keep a closer eye on household habits to reduce these figures.

Last updated: 2 December 2020