People are facing huge spikes in their energy bills this winter. The average costs of running household appliances will surge. Which? has provided a number of tips which can help households cope, including simple tricks with appliances that could make a difference:
Use central heating controls
You can make better use of the heating energy that you pay for by using Smart heating controls. Setting the timer for only when you are home and reducing the temperature at night can cut your bills and still be comfortable. Reducing the temperature by one degree will also reduce your annual bill. It is estimated that a medium-sized household could save at least £100 a year by using smart controls and could cut a home’s carbon emissions by 320kg a year. When using a smart thermostat, it is recommended that you use radiator valves to vary the heating of different rooms.
To get the best performance from your dishwasher wash full loads instead of just a few items and use an eco-setting if available. While washing up by hand may seem like a cheaper option, handwashing uses more water than a dishwasher.
Costs can be reduced by washing with the machine loaded to about 80% capacity, rather than repeatedly washing smaller loads. Washing less stained items at a reduced temperature can reduce the energy used. Washing at 30C will cut energy usage by 38% on average compared with a 40C wash; you will use 62% less energy by reducing to 20°c.
You may have a heat pump tumble dryer or a condenser tumble dryer, which requires more power. The easiest way to save is not to use a tumble dryer but to hang washing to dry.
Cleaning the condenser coils on the back will help keep your fridge freezer working efficiently, as dust on the coils can prevent the fridge from cooling properly. Ensure that food is cooled down properly before refrigerating and damaged door seals should be replaced so that cold air cannot escape.
It is possible to reduce costs by cooking several meals at a time and eating them spread across the week. Defrost frozen food in the fridge in advance so that cooking time is reduced. Smaller items such as Halogen ovens, air fryers or combi microwaves are more cost-efficient than ovens for cooking smaller items.
Ofgem has detailed information on all the Government schemes, grants and benefits available to households. The Warm Home Discount of £150 is available to pensioners and those who get certain benefits. Those born before 26th September 1956 can claim a Winter Fuel Payment of £250 to £600 and energy companies also have their own hardship funds, so it is worth contacting your supplier to see what they can offer.
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Pauline Meechan, Sherwood Forest Friends of the Earth