Search online for energy saving tips and you’ll be met with pages upon pages of hints, tricks and secrets that promise to save you money on your energy bills. But which ones can you trust?
We’ve taken on the role of mythbusters to separate the fact from the fiction so you know which tips will make your home more energy efficient and save you money on your energy bills.
Myth 1: Switching lights on and off uses more energy than leaving them on
It can be easy to think that lightbulbs will use more energy to light up than to remain on but you’re actually much more likely to save energy by turning the lights off when you leave a room, if something isn’t on then it isn’t using energy.
If your home is fitted with standard bulbs or LED lights, they’ll use no extra electricity to turn back on but energy-saving bulbs and fluorescent lights will use a small amount.
Myth 2: Solar panels won’t work in the UK
It’s a common misconception that solar panels need direct sunlight to to do their job but the fact is, they don’t. So if you thought that you’d have to live in sunnier climes to reap the rewards of solar panels, the great news for us in the UK is they’ll still work on cloudy days.
Myth 3: Using energy at night is cheaper
Depending on the energy plan you have in your home this could be true as some energy tariffs, like Economy 7, charge less during off-peak times. For the majority of us, this simply isn’t true, but you’ll know depending on your plan.
Myth 4: The higher you turn up the thermostat, the faster your home will heat up
No matter how high you turn up the thermostat, your boiler will always work at the same speed. There’s simply no way to ‘trick’ your boiler into working faster.
Myth 5: Radiators are more efficient painted black
We’re taught that white reflects heat and black absorbs it so there’s an ongoing debate that if a radiator is painted black then it will be more efficient. Truth is, you’re much better off keeping them white. Paint acts as an insulator which means that less heat is transferred to the room. So put your paintbrush away.
Myth 6: Leave the heating on all day rather than turning it on and off
You’ll save much more energy on your heating by only using it when required, and the best way to do that is with a timer. Your thermostat will keep your home at the temperature you set by turning your heating on and off. You can even control the temperature at home from anywhere with smart thermostats for maximum control and visibility of your energy use.
Depending on how good your insulation is, your home will be leaking a certain amount of energy every single day. So if you’re keeping the heating on all day then you’ll be losing much more energy, and don’t just take our word for it, the Energy Saving Trust will tell you the same.
Myth 7: Standby mode and screensavers save power
Many devices, such as laptops and TVs, still use power when they’re plugged in but not in use. You might not think it, but computers use about the same amount of energy when idle as they do when they’re being used.
Standby power, sometimes given the rather spooky name ‘vampire power’, is easily avoided by simply switching devices off at the wall.
Myth 8: Washing the dishes by hand saves more energy than a dishwasher
Doing a full load on a medium temperature can actually use less water than washing the dishes by hand. Nowadays, the majority of dishwashers come with an economy setting which will use even less water and electricity.
When washing up by hand, you need a fair amount of hot water compared to washing the same number of plates in a dishwasher. If you prefer to wash-up by hand though, then you’re much better off using a washing-up bowl than leaving the tap running.
Myth 9: New homes are always more energy efficient
The efficiency of a home is tied more to its design and construction rather than its age. Just because a house is new doesn’t mean that it’s immediately more energy efficient than an older home. The quality of the insulation and having double glazed windows are both very important when it comes to keeping your home energy efficient.
Myth 10: Chargers don’t use power when they’re not connected to a device
When your phone or laptop is fully charged, it can be almost natural to unplug your device and leave the charger dangling from the socket. Even though they’re not charging the device, lots of chargers are still using energy, you can tell because they’ll start heating up.
Research by the Energy Saving Trust estimates that £50-80 is wasted each year by the average household. So, before you start tapping away on your device, remember to switch the charger off.
Which Energy Saving Tips are True?
While there are a lot of myths about saving energy, there are lots of tiny changes you can make around the home every day to save energy.
- Don’t fill the kettle to the top, only use as much water as you need
- It’s recommended to turn your heating down by a degree or two
- Wait until the end of the week and do a full load of washing at a time
- Wait until food has cooled down before putting it in the fridge
- When leaving a room, switch the lights off
- Switch off appliances in standby
- Move furniture away from radiators
For even more simple steps that will help you save energy (and money!) in the short and long term, take a look through our full list of energy saving tips.
What’s the Most Economical Way to use Central Heating?
Now that we’ve busted the myths and know how to make our homes more energy efficient for the benefit of both the planet and our bank balances, how do we know we’re using our central heating in the most economical way?
It’s very important to have your boiler serviced annually to ensure it’s functioning properly. Summer is the best time to do this before the cold of winter sets in and you need your boiler. If you’re under warranty, this may be included but if not you can use Boiler Quotes to get up to three quotes from trusted engineers near you.
Uninsulated homes lose 25% of their heat through the roof, but luckily loft insulation is a very inexpensive and effective way to prevent this unnecessary heat loss. Find out more about how you could cut down your energy bills and reduce carbon dioxide emissions with our guide to loft insulation.
Draughts in the home are one of the biggest culprits for heat escaping, so it’s well worth inspecting your home for draught leaks. A good place to start checking is by doors and windows, and if you find any, get them fixed.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, turning your thermostat down by just a degree or two will save energy and money. Research by the Energy Saving Trust found that turning your thermostat down by a single degree could potentially save £75 and 375kg of carbon dioxide each year.