Energy bill regulator OFGEM today warned that ‘customers face a very challenging winter ahead’ and also announced it will update its energy price cap four times a year instead of the present level of every six months. With the latest energy price cap change to be announced at the end of August, you may ask what this means for households throughout the UK. Whilst this change is intended to provide some stability in the energy market, it does mean that households’ energy bills will go up or down every three months now instead of every six. So, in these times of rising energy costs, whilst we all want our homes to be warm at the touch of a button and remain warm for as long as possible, we’re also searching for ways to reduce our energy usage and do what we can to keep our energy costs and heating oil and LPG bills down. Here we’re going to take a look at some of the common energy saving tips to save your energy and money which are energy efficiency myths, and may actually be costing you more.
Leaving the heating on all day is cheaper?
Leaving your heating on all day to save money, even on low, is a myth according to the Energy Saving Trust. Even if you turn your oil fired central heating oil or LPG thermostat down whilst you’re not at home or when you’re tucked up in bed, your boiler will keep firing up and using your domestic heating oil or LPG, and you won’t even feel the benefit of it. And remember that a certain amount of energy is always leaking out of your home, even with good insulation, so if you’re keeping your energy on all day, you’re losing energy all day.
So, don’t pay for heat that you’re not using! Your central heating timer or programmer allows you to control when your heating and hot water comes on and goes off. Set the timer on your oil fired central heating or LPG boiler so that it switches off when you’re not at home or when you’re in bed, and switches back on say half an hour before you get home or wake up in the morning – the best way to save money as well as your home heating oil or LPG!
And did you know that turning up the thermostat doesn’t heat your home up any quicker? If you do come home to a cold house, whacking up the thermostat in the hope it will warm your home up faster doesn’t work – but it will guzzle more heating oil or LPG. Your oil fired central heating or LPG boiler works at the same constant speed regardless of what temperature you set the thermostat at, but will ultimately just raise the temperature higher than you want in the long run and may even leave you sweltering!
Leaving the hot water on all the time saves money:
Unless you need a constant supply of warm water, it’s a common myth that, whether you use heating oil or LPG, leaving the hot water on all the time saves money. It is cheaper and more energy-efficient to switch your boiler on only when you need hot water – if you leave your hot water on all the time, your boiler will be constantly heating it when there is no need. Instead, use a timer to heat your water for an hour or two each day just before you would usually use it, and save on the amount of heating oil or LPG used. And don’t forget to get your boiler serviced regularly to ensure it runs at its maximum efficiency.
It's also worth checking your boiler thermostat – this sets the temperature of the water that is pumped from your heating oil or LPG boiler through the radiators to heat your home. Having it on maximum could send your heating oil bills rocketing, so if you’re looking for a good balance of warmth and efficiency, set it to 65 degrees.
Heating just one room at a time with an electric heater is cheaper than switching on the central heating:
Whilst warming unoccupied rooms does waste money, this is yet another myth! Electric heaters are energy guzzlers and therefore expensive to run. So, if you’re having them on for a few hours, it’s likely to be cheaper to turn on your oil fired central heating or LPG heating, especially if you’re making good use of individual radiator thermostats.
Radiators should be painted black:
The simple answer is no! It’s a common myth that painting your radiators black or another dark colour will help radiate heat more efficiently. Black surfaces absorb heat and energy - white surfaces reflect heat. Instead, rather than just relying on the main thermostat to control your heating, consider fitting thermostatic radiator valves in each room to allow you to control the temperature of your individual radiators and putting reflective panels behind so heat doesn’t escape through external walls and is reflected back into the room.
Washing up by hand is cheaper than switching on the dishwasher:
It’s often thought that washing up by hand is cheaper and more energy efficient than using the dishwasher - this isn't necessarily true. Appliances such as dishwashers and tumble dryers often get a bad reputation for energy-sucking – and whilst tumble dryers are serious offenders, dishwashers, when used properly, can actually use less energy than hand washing your dishes. Modern dishwashers don’t use any of your home’s hot water supply as they simply use cold water and heat it internally. So less hot water means less home heating oil or LPG being used!
Always fully-load whilst being careful not to over-load, and stack properly so every dish and pan surface is accessible to water jets. Use the eco-setting which heats water more slowly, and therefore uses less energy, and always turn the dishwasher off completely when it’s not in use.
Of course, it does depend on your washing-up methods. Some people leave their taps running throughout. Others just fill up the sink.
It’s not just about saving energy either – according to the Energy Saving Trust, hand washing dishes makes up 4% of the average household’s water usage, whereas using a dishwasher uses 3% less, accounting for just 1% of our water bills.
Turning lights off and on again uses more electricity than just leaving them on:
If a light bulb is on, it’s using electricity, if it’s off it isn’t! So, this old chestnut is almost completely untrue. The quickest way to start saving is by just remembering to turn lights off when you don’t need them. Modern low-energy light bulbs do use a smaller amount of extra energy when switched on, but if you are leaving a room for more than a couple of minutes then turn the light off and save money. And be aware of how many lights you have on in one room – do you need all of them on, and are the lamp shades and fittings clean to increase the impact of light?
It's also worth considering energy-efficient LED’s. According to the Energy Saving Trust, replacing all the bulbs in your home with LED lights could reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40kg a year, the equivalent to driving your car around 145 miles.
Running appliances at night is cheaper:
For a small amount of people on Economy tariffs, it may be cheaper to run appliances at night, but for the majority, this isn’t the case. Most energy suppliers charge the same rate for electricity used during the day as at night, so for most of us running the washing machine at night doesn’t make any difference to the cost or amount of energy used. Unless you’re on an economy tariff, so try.
So as the energy crisis in the UK worsens, and millions of households look for ways to cut their energy consumption, don’t waste time on energy saving tips that won’t reduce your energy usage and your heating oil and LPG bills, and could actually end up costing you more. Saving energy isn’t just good for our wallets, it’s also good for the environment, so click here for some energy saving tips that really will help you keep more pennies in your pocket.
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