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9 Dec 2017

Seven things you do every day that waste energy

Could you save hundreds with our energy efficiency tips?

If you've ever stopped to turn off the light before you leave a room, you'll know that energy-efficient habits are quick and easy to adopt. But abandon them and your energy bill will increase slowly but steadily.

Leaving appliances on when you're not using them can add £30 to your annual electricity bill. And if you choose not to replace busted light bulbs with LEDs, you'll be missing out on hundreds of pounds of savings across your home.

Read on to find out how you can save energy and money in moments, and visit our independent energy switching site, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices.

Top energy-wasting habits

Our lives are busy, especially in the run-up to Christmas, so it's easy for energy-saving habits to slip. But do so at your peril, as the consequences will slowly add to your energy bills.

Here we reveal seven common energy and money-wasting shortcuts. Then scroll down for quick tips to help cut your energy bills.

  1. Running your dishwasher, washing machine, or tumble dryer half-full. The fuller the load, the more efficient the cycle. Using an eco cycle on your dishwasher can cut energy use by around 16%.
  2. Forgetting to set your heating controls. These allow you to schedule your heating to be off when you don't need it - for example, at night or when you're out - so you don't forget to switch it off.
  3. Not replacing old light bulbs with LEDs.On average, an LED bulb costs around £1.71 per year to run, which could cut £180 from your energy bills over the bulb's lifetime compared with an old-style bulb.
  4. Leaving appliances on standby or switched on when you're not actually using them. This costs households up to £30 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
  5. Heating unused rooms. If you can zone your heating with room thermostats, you can easily trim your bills. Set lower temperatures for the parts of your home that you use only rarely or at certain times of the day.
  6. Putting warm food into the fridge or freezer.The appliance will have to work harder, and use more energy, to cool down. Avoid leaving the door open too long, and defrost food in your fridge to give it a helping hand at chilling.
  7. Putting off switching energy supplier. If you don't feel able to invest the time into comparing gas and electricity prices, you risk paying around hundreds more than you need to for energy each year. The amount is the difference between the priciest tariff from a Big Six energy company and the cheapest deal on the market.

Quick energy efficiency tips to cut your bills

  • Check whether you're eligible for a home energy grant to help you pay your bills. Pensioners and those in receipt of certain benefits can get £140 from the government's Warm Home Discount.
  • Stop heat escaping because of draughts under doors, around windows and up the chimney, to save up to £50 per year.
  • Turn down your central heating by 1°C to save around £80 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Set your thermostat to 18°C to begin with and then adjust it each day until you feel comfortable. Don't let the temperature drop below 16°C for elderly people.
  • Send meter readings to your energy supplier regularly to ensure your bills are accurate. Without meter readings, your supplier will base your bills on estimates, which could be higher than your actual usage.
  • Wash lightly soiled clothes at 30°C. Compared with washing at 40°C, this could save you around £9 per year. Dirtier garments will need cleaning at higher temperatures, though. Read more about useful washing machine programs.

When it comes to replacing your dishwasher, washing machine or other white goods, choose energy-efficient appliances. Our lab tests measure how much every machine costs to run, so you know what an A-rated appliance will really add to your bills.

Have you considered a smart thermostat?

Smart thermostats can switch your heating on or off remotely via the internet. So if your plans or the weather change, you can adapt your heating to match. Prices range from around £100 to £250, although some energy suppliers offer them as part of fixed-term gas and electricity deals.

Many smart thermostats show you how much heating you're using. Some can also monitor your usage, learn your routine, or turn on when you're near home (using GPS data). As with a traditional thermostat, you can program the times when you want the heating to turn on and off - but you do this via your phone or computer, rather than the thermostat itself.

Whether or not a smart thermostat could save you money will depend on factors including the price you pay for the system, how effectively you use your existing heating controls, how comfortable you are using apps, and if you intend to stay in your current property for several years to recoup the cost of installation through your reduced bills.

See our comprehensive guide to smart thermostats to decide whether they're the best choice for you.