How to slash your energy bill: 30 easy ideas to save money on electricity and gas

Electricity and gas prices are soaring but there are ways to reduce your electric and gas bills. Today, energy prices went up in the UK. In May, the same is happening in Ireland. Many families who are living on or close to the poverty line face being thrown into destitution.

Here are some ways you can slash your electric and gas bills (or oil, if you’re in most parts of Ireland). I’ve tried to think outside the box for most of these because I’m sure you’ve already read about wearing more clothes and closing doors:

  1. Unplug everything. Literally everything you’re not using right now. Even your WiFi at bedtime. Standby mode is meant to be convenient but often it takes just as long to turn my TV on from “off” than from “standby”. And standby uses electricity whereas “off” doesn’t. Unplug your laptop and use battery power as much as you can, like you would with a phone, because you’re paying to charge a full battery otherwise!
  2. Fill your fridge and freezer. Every time you open the fridge door, all the air takes more electricity to cool back down than solid objects or containers of liquid. This is because of the physics of specific heat capacity. I won’t go into that. Just trust me. If you’ve got some empty milk cartons or other containers, fill them with water and pack out all the empty space in your freezer to save electricity. Be careful filling the fridge with water as it might leak; a better option would be to fill it with tins of food, plates, or other solid items. A fridge is just a big, cold, slightly damp cupboard. Put stuff in it to save electricity.
  3. Turn the oven off as soon as you’re done using it. Clean it manually and open windows/the back door instead of using the cooker extractor fan. Group your cooking into as few uses of the oven as possible, e.g. cook lunch and dinner together then reheat dinner in the microwave. This is much cheaper than using the oven twice.
  4. Put your clothes on the line outside if you can, instead of using a tumble dryer. Be careful drying indoors as it can make the house damp, which makes it feel colder, which causes you to put the heating on. Damp can also cause toxic mold and damage to your plaster which is an expensive thing to fix.
  5. Open a window in the bathroom instead of using the extractor fan. If your extractor fan is connected to your light switch, try to avoid turning the bathroom light on especially if it’s one of those horrible fans that runs for 30 mins every time you have a wee in the night. Consider replacing this with one that doesn’t do that, or getting an electrician to put the light on a separate switch.
  6. If you have a combi-boiler, don’t use the hot tap to brush your teeth. I am SO guilty of this, as I have sensitive teeth that hate cold water, but whenever you put on the hot tap, the combi boiler fires up to make hot water, costing you money.
  7. Drop your heating 2-3 degrees, if you have a thermostat. If you only have a timer, try to manage with 30 minutes instead of 45, or 45 minutes instead of an hour.
  8. Insulate your loft and fill it with (non-flammable) junk. Go on Freecycle to pick up some free junk to fill the loft with if you don’t have anything. This works on the same principle as filling your fridge/freezer–air pockets surrounding solid objects are better insulation than a big empty loft full of open air, which creates drafts.
  9. Put cardboard in your windows at night. It reduces sound and heat loss. We used to do this at our old house and it made a massive difference to the temperature. If you’ve more money, or are handy with reclaimed wood, consider getting old-fashioned window shutters like the ones in fairytale cottages and close them at night.
  10. Buy or make draft excluders. You can knit them then, if you want to do this cheaply/sustainably, stuff them with that cardboard stuff that comes in parcels, or old-fashioned polystyrene would work just as well. Whatever you have lying around the house.
  11. Put foil behind your radiators. Silver insulating bubble wrap is great but it’s expensive. You can do a similar thing cheaper by getting some cardboard and gluing ordinary tin foil to it. Have the foil on the side with the radiator, not the wall. You want to reflect the heat from the back of the radiator back into the room instead of heating your walls.
  12. Buy garden solar fairy lights e.g. the ones in Home Bargains or B and M. Use them inside your house. Sellotape the solar panel to your window and stick the lights around the windowframe or ceiling (make sure to check the lights will be visible in the room when your curtains are closed). This is basically free lighting that will pay for itself when you don’t use the main lights.
  13. Reduce your ironing by using fabric softener, especially in hard water areas. It costs money to buy a bottle of Comfort or Lenor, but it saves money (and time) because they do good things to your clothes and make them crease less during the washing process, which saves you plugging the iron in. Be sure not to use fabric softener on towels, however, as it stops them being as absorbent.
  14. Ditch your straighteners/curling tongs in favour of a ponytail or other low-maintenance hair style.
  15. Charge your phone in your car wherever possible. Constantly plug it in and keep it in low power mode when it’s unplugged. Turn off mobile data for all apps and only turn it on for an individual app when you need to use it. This will save you phone credit as well as electricity.
  16. Cultivate new hobbies that don’t require electricity. Instead of bingeing yet another pointless TV series on Netflix, why not take up knitting, gardening, reading, or play a board game with loved ones?
  17. If you have a fireplace, get a chimney sweep to check it’s not blocked up, then use the fire to heat your living room instead of putting on the central heating to heat the whole house.
  18. Turn off/turn down radiators in rooms you seldom use. Does your bathroom or that little hall by the front door REALLY need to be heated to the same temperature as your living room?
  19. Use the eco cycle on your washing machine. The only excuse not to is if you’re washing poo out of kids’ clothes.
  20. Get a solar-powered battery charger and rechargeable batteries for anything you can, to avoid using the mains. It can take a while in some parts of the UK/Ireland, but a good solar charger is still very useful.
  21. Weigh up whether reusable nappies are really saving you money when you have to wash them so much.
  22. Swap dinner for a cold meal once a week, to save on the cost of electricity/gas for the cooking. Salads, sandwiches, fresh fruit and crackers with cheese are all healthy meals that will help you get your five-a-day (or is it seven, now?) and cut your mealtime energy consumption. If you did this three times a week or more, you could really save your pennies!
  23. Sniff your leggings. And your other clothes. If they don’t smell, you can get another day out of them. That means less money spent on washing. Thanks to Sarah Millican for this tip.
  24. Shower daily. Sounds daft? A very brief shower every day will mean you don’t need a big long shower to do all your scrubbing because you’ll be on top of your hygiene. Try to keep it under 2 minutes.
  25. Wash your hair less. This is the big time sink during showers and it’s really unnecessary, according to every hairdresser I’ve ever met. I wash my hair once a week in a slightly longer shower and the rest of the time, I use a shower cap. Since showering daily I’ve noticed I am much cleaner and my clothes last longer between washes.
  26. Get your kids to share a bath or bath them one after the other, without unplugging, to use the same hot water. You can hop in too, if you’ve got babies/toddlers (if you’re worried about them seeing you, put on a swimsuit or bikini).
  27. If you’ve got babies/toddlers, sleep them in your bed with some safety rails. Huddling together for warmth really works. I find this stops them waking in the night very much as well. Get older children to share a room for as long as possible (i.e. until the bickering is too awful or they ask for their own room more than once). That way you only have to heat one room for them.
  28. Open plan living has benefits, but its main downside is you have to heat a larger space. Take design notes from Your Home Made Perfect and put up thick curtains to zone off areas of the open plan space, to retain heat.
  29. Turn off your immersion heater. Those “heating experts” who say it costs more to turn it on for short times are idiots. Why? You usually don’t need more than one tank of water for any given task, and the hot water tank isn’t constantly emptying and refilling over the course of the day. Additionally, the water doesn’t get completely cold unless you leave it off for several days. If the immersion heater is always on, it’s heating and heating and heating the same tank of water; it would be like sellotaping the kettle’s “on” button and letting it boil and boil and boil. Expensive! It takes about 30-45 mins to heat a full tank which should do a bath and a little extra for washing hands etc. Time it so it comes on around an hour before you want the bulk of the hot water, and remember as it refills with cold water, it’ll water down the hot water.
  30. A microwave oven will use less energy to cook a small meal because it’s got a smaller area to heat. An oven is trying to heat that massive space with all the shelves. If you’re only making food for 1-2 people, a modern microwave oven is much more efficient so consider an upgrade as an investment that will pay for itself.

Got any more unusual tips? Drop them in the comments, I’d love for your comments to help other readers save money on their electricity (and me of course, haha).

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