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From shorter showers to turning off lights, how much money do energy-cutting tips really save?

From going to bed earlier to taking quicker showers or using a slow cooker instead of an oven, Britons are desperately searching for ways to reduce their energy bills. 

New research from GoCompare Energy found that 83 per cent of bill payers had seen their energy costs rise substantially since the latest increase in Ofgem’s energy price cap on April 1, which hiked bills for those on default and pre-payment tariffs. 

In a bid to keep costs down, up to two-thirds of those surveyed said they had started turning off lights and electronic devices more often, making this the most popular energy-saving measure. 

But how much money does doing it actually save? 

Leaving your electronics on standby can cost you up to £60 a year extra on your energy bill 

Some tips and tricks may be more effort than they’re worth – for example switching off an LED light bulb for 12 hours in every 24, which saves less than 2 pence per day, or £6 per year compared to having it on constantly.

But there are other changes that can save hundreds, such as cutting down the length of showers or ditching the tumble drier. 

We took a look at eight common energy saving tips to see which are myths, and which ‘magic’ bill-cutting measures are actually worth taking on board. 

1. Turning off lights when you leave a room

Around 64 per cent of households have started turning off their lights when leaving a room, according to GoCompare.

But unfortunately this will not always save much money, as it completely depends on the type of light bulb. 

The least energy efficient bulbs are incandescent lights. Only 10 per cent of the energy these bulbs use is given off as light, instead of heat.

Energy Saving Trust estimates that switching to LED bulbs could save you up to £13 per year for every bulb to switch out

Energy Saving Trust estimates that switching to LED bulbs could save you up to £13 per year for every bulb to switch out

Because they use more energy, they are more expensive to run and so turning them off saves more money. 

It costs around £0.17 to leave an incandescent light bulb on all day, every day, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

But an even more cost-efficient move would be to replace the bulbs with energy saving alternatives, such as Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs or Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL).

More energy efficient LED bulbs only cost approximately £0.03 per day or just under £11 per year. 

By switching it off for 12 hours every day,  the annual saving would be less than £6. 

If you were to leave an incandescent bulb lit for 24 hours a day for an entire year, you should expect a bill of around £62. Turning this bulb off for an hour everyday would save you around £1.50 off your total bill for the year. 

According to the Energy Saving Trust, households could save up to £13 per bulb, per year by switching inefficient 100 watt incandescent bulbs for LEDs, or up to £5 per year swapping halogen bulbs for LED bulbs.

If you accidentally leave your lights on overnight, you shouldn’t worry, as it will still likely cost you only a few pence, even with energy inefficient light bulbs. 

Myth or Magic? Myth, as swapping to energy efficient bulbs will do more to save on energy than turning off lights.

More than two-thirds of UK households have said they are now making an effort to turn their lights off when not in use around the home, in a bid to save money on their energy bills

More than two-thirds of UK households have said they are now making an effort to turn their lights off when not in use around the home, in a bid to save money on their energy bills

2. Turning off appliances when they’re not being used 

According to GoCompare, over half of households have started turning their electronics off at the wall when not in use, rather than leaving them on standby, to save energy.

However, the effort it takes to turn off each device may not be worth the savings, as leaving your TV on standby could only be costing you £0.45 per year.

Research by boiler repair company JustServicesGroup.com suggests you could be saving up to £25 per year by switching your games console off standby, turning off your Wifi router or smart speaker overnight, or leaving devices on charge for longer than necessary.

Around 80 per cent of households have seen increases in their energy bills since March, with 90 per cent of those polled saying they are making efforts to cut down on energy use

Other devices with a high annual standby cost include a microwave at £16.37, followed by a shower at £9.80, a washing machine at £4.73 and a printer at £3.81. 

Meanwhile, some have even suggested that using your dishwasher could save you more on your household bills than washing dishes by hand.   

The Energy Saving Trust worked out that washing your dishes by hand after each meal uses around four times as much water than one cycle of a dishwasher, which uses about 10 litres per cycle. 

Depending on your habits, washing up with the water running can use nine times more water than a dishwasher – a figure that will matter financially if you have a water meter.

The average running cost of a dishwasher is as little as £37 per year, with an eco dishwasher costing just over 6p a day. 

Additionally, the cost to heat water from your boiler to wash your dishes could set you back 4p per day. 

Assuming you washed your dishes after every meal, you could be better off with your dishwasher. 

Myth or Magic? It depends how many electronic devices you have, and what they are. While saving less than £4 a year by turning off a printer might not seem worth it for many, a house with multiple games consoles might consider switching them off at the wall to save £25 per year, per console. 

3. Not filling the kettle to the top

One tip floating around the internet is to stop filling the kettle to the top to make one cup of tea, as it uses more energy. Putting in just enough water to fill a mug is said to be substantially cheaper. 

A 3kW kettle boils one cup of water (235ml) in 45 seconds, costing 1p every minute to boil. This means £2.74 per year, if you had one cup of tea every day. 

Heating larger amounts of water is more expensive. For example, filling the 3kW kettle up to its maximum of 1.7 litres means it will take up to 4 minutes to boil, and the cost will be 4p. 

Boiling more water than you need could see you paying more per cup of tea, but boiling your kettle multiple times a day could cost you even more

Boiling more water than you need could see you paying more per cup of tea, but boiling your kettle multiple times a day could cost you even more

So filling the kettle to the top could see you paying more for your energy, but the difference based on one boil of the kettle per day is just under £12. 

However, if you drink more tea or have more people in the house, the savings start to add up. For example, a house with two adults, each drinking three cups per day and making them separately, would spend £16.44 by boiling just one cup’s worth of water. 

If they each filled the kettle to the top every time, it would cost almost £88. 

Those looking to save could try boiling a kettle full of water once, and storing the hot water in a sealed thermos for later use.

This would mean they could cut down kettle use from four boils per day for four cups of tea, to only once for the same amount of boiled water. This would cut the average bill to £14.60 per person, per year. 

Myth or Magic? It depends on the amount of times the kettle is boiled in a day. It is largely a myth for those drinking just one cup, who aren’t likely to save a significant amount – but more prolific tea drinkers could save around £70. 

4. Washing clothes on a lower heat setting

According to Which?, the majority of UK households wash their clothes at 40 degrees celsius. 

But they could cut the energy used by up to 40 per cent, by turning it down to 30 or even lower. 

While this advice can genuinely lower energy bills, washing at lower temperatures could still cost households more in the long run if they don’t maintain their machines properly. 

It can increase the chance of mould and grease build-up, which can cause musty, damp smells and even causing the machine to break down faster.

Washing your clothes on colder temperatures could reduce your energy consumption

Washing your clothes on colder temperatures could reduce your energy consumption

If you wash at low temperatures, it becomes even more important to run a regular monthly maintenance wash on the highest setting with a washing machine cleaner or soda crystals, to give the pipes a blast and stop smells building up.

So, as long as you maintain your washing machine, you should be able to see around £12 knocked off your energy bill each year by turning down the temperature. 

Myth or Magic? Magic, though it comes with a warning, as not properly caring for your washing machine could see you paying more for general maintenance.

5. Having quicker showers

Showers account for about 25 per cent of domestic water use, so it is not surprising that around a third of Britons have said they are cutting their shower time down to save money on bills. 

The average shower uses around nine litres of water every minute, of which six litres are heated at a cost of around 1p per litre. Therefore, a ten minute shower could cost around 60p per person, per day. 

Cutting shower time by two minutes would see you paying around 48p per person, per day, saving around £43 per year for each inhabitant of the house. 

Cutting down on your shower time from ten to eight minutes could save you £43 per year

Cutting down on your shower time from ten to eight minutes could save you £43 per year

Households could save even more by ensuring their plumbing is completely up to scratch, as leaks or inefficient shower heads waste water. 

Switching to a regulated shower head uses water even more efficiently, reducing the amount of water needed to between seven or eight litres per minute. 

Some shower heads even claim to halve your water bills, and save up to £120 a year on the typical energy bill. 

Myth or Magic? Magic. Cutting down on shower time is a solid money-saver. 

6. No longer using the tumble dryer  

Just under a quarter of households have said they will no longer be using a tumble dryer to dry their clothes in a bid to reduce their energy bills.

Vented tumble dryers can cost around £180 per year to run, according to Ideal Home. 

For those who have the space, drying clothes naturally either indoors or outdoors could be a very viable way to save money, especially with summer approaching – though those drying them indoors should make sure the space is properly ventilated to avoid damp. 

The good news is, you may not have to give up your dryer entirely, if you can make the switch to a heat pump dryer. 

Which? recently found that these machines, which reuse the hot air they generate, only cost an average of £26 per year to run. 

Running a tumble dryer overnight during off-peak energy hours can also save money for those on an Economy 7 tariff. 

Myth or Magic? Magic. Switching to air drying is guaranteed to save money, and depending on the tumble dryer model you have this could be up to £180 per year. It’s also worth considering a heat pump dryer if you can’t live without one. 

The average cost to run a tumble dryer for a year totals £180, which means air drying your clothes where possible could have the biggest impact on your energy bill

The average cost to run a tumble dryer for a year totals £180, which means air drying your clothes where possible could have the biggest impact on your energy bill

7. Making the house more energy efficient

One in five have said they would be taking steps to make their home more energy efficient – rather than simply their appliances – to help reduce the cost of energy.

There are a number of things that can be done to make a home more efficient, but most of them are very costly so are unlikely to be an option for those struggling with rising bills. 

However, those who have the luxury to invest in their home now, and make the money back through reduced bills over many years, may want to consider them. 

Adding insulation to your home could save around a third on your energy consumption, but this varies depending on whether the house is detached, semi-detached or terraced.

In period properties which still have single-glazed windows, switching to double or even triple glazing can cut down on unnecessary energy waste.

One in five have said they are making energy efficient changes to their home to cut down on costs of energy bills

One in five have said they are making energy efficient changes to their home to cut down on costs of energy bills 

Around 5 per cent of those polled by GoCompare also said they would be making the upgrade to solar panels in a bid to reduce their bills over time.

If you can afford them, and have room, it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce bills. An average solar set-up will cost somewhere between £2,500 and £8,000, depending on the number of panels, size of the roof and location.

An 3.5kW panel in southern England could see returns of around £300 in the first year, according to energy firm Ovo, with an approximate 5 per cent rate of return over its 25-year lifetime.

Myth or Magic? Magic – but only for those that can afford the upfront costs

8. Using the slow cooker instead of the oven

Just under one in five of those surveyed by GoCompare said they were switching away from their energy-draining ovens in favour of slow cookers.

They may want to reconsider, as this energy-saving tip might be the biggest myth of them all – depending on how you use your slow cooker.

On average, electric ovens have a power rating of 2.0-2.2 kWh, whereas slow cookers use 0.64 kWh of electricity on low settings and 1.65 kWh on high settings.

So assuming someone used an oven five days a week, for one hour at a time, this would cost around £150 per year. 

Alternatively, if they used a slow cooker five days a week for eight hours at a time on the lowest setting it could around £370. 

However, slow cookers often use heat more efficiently than conventional ovens, wasting less energy – so they may actually work out cheaper depending how they are used. 

For those worried about how much energy their slow cooker is using, experts suggest they get a smart meter and monitor their energy use to work our whether it is saving or costing them money.  

Myth or Magic? Myth, as the average energy consumption for a slow cooker is more than an electrical oven in the time it would take to prepare the same meals. 

Energy saving tips suggest using a slow cooker more often instead of a conventional oven, however, it could cost you more in the long-run to make the switch full time

Energy saving tips suggest using a slow cooker more often instead of a conventional oven, however, it could cost you more in the long-run to make the switch full time

Gareth Kloet, of GoCompare Energy, said on the findings: ‘With 83 per cent of people feeling the impact of rising energy costs, it’s no wonder that lifestyle habits around the home will have been impacted. 

‘Some of these measures will undoubtedly help to keep increased costs to a minimum but there are obviously limits to the changes that people can make.

‘With the warmer weather hopefully on its way, we are now approaching the time of year when people traditionally use less energy, and some people may be feeling like there’s a bit of breathing space before the colder weather sets in again. 

‘But it’s important to remember that these habits can only be a good thing longer term – not just when it comes to saving on your bills, but also on the environment.

‘If the market does return to some sort of normality and we start to see energy costs decrease, we would absolutely recommend that people continue with some of these changes longer term. 

‘Being aware of the way that energy is consumed in the house can only be a good thing and will be important to maintain even after things have improved in the market.’

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