12:43 07 November 2012
As energy prices rise and the temperature falls, now's the time to see if there are changes you can make to your home that will result in lower energy costs.
Most of us are aware we can save money on our energy bills by insulating lofts and cavity walls and fitting energy saving light bulbs, but how many of us know how much money our everyday appliances are costing us to run and how much we're throwing away by leaving them on standby?
For example, did you know that the use of your oven alone could be costing you over £130 a year?
Or that by leaving your appliances on standby instead of turning them off at the wall, you could be throwing away a further £40 a year?
Here we'll take a look at some of the costs involved in heating your home and running household appliances, and identify ways in which you can save money and chop your bills down to size.
How much is your kitchen costing you?
A the hub of the household, the kitchen is also home to some of the most energy-sapping appliances; such as ovens, fridge/freezers, washing machines and tumble dryers.
The latest figures from the Energy Saving Trust show that the approximate annual cost of washing and drying your clothes is £186.15, while operating an electric oven will cost £131.40 a year, and running your fridge/freezer will set you back a further £48.20 annually.
When you factor in other appliances such as a toaster, microwave, dishwasher, electric kettle and food processor, this could add another £138 to your annual electricity bill.
All of which adds up to a whopping £503.75 per year - so what can you do to cut these costs?
How to cut costs in the kitchen?
To ensure that you're using your washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher efficiently you should always try to use a full load and look for any eco cycles, or low temperature wash cycles. These appliances are more efficient with fuller loads while eco cycles use less water and electricity than other programs.
If you think you could cope with getting rid of the tumble dryer altogether and dry your clothes on a clothes horse instead, then this could save you more than £130 each year. If you do get rid of the dryer though, you should never dry clothes over radiators as this will just add to heating costs and could prove to be counterproductive.
If this isn't an option and you do have to use a tumble dryer then at least make sure you wring out or spin dry clothes before you tumble them as this will cut down drying time and, in turn, costs.
Microwave ovens are more energy-efficient than conventional ovens so you could save time, energy and money by using the microwave instead of the oven to warm up food. It may also be worth investing in a halogen oven as these use around 75% less energy than a conventional oven and often have quicker cooking times.
To keep your fridge/freezer working at its most efficient, try to keep it around three-quarters full (filling it up with bottles of water if food is running low) and regularly defrost it. Always let hot food cool naturally before putting it in the fridge otherwise it will use additional energy to keep cool and check the temperature settings to make sure that it's not running cooler than it needs to be as this again uses more energy.
Never leave the fridge door open longer than necessary and regularly clean dust from the condenser coils on the back of the fridge as a build-up of thick dust can reduce efficiency by up to 25%.
When making a cuppa only fill the kettle with as much water as you need and make sure that you regularly descale your kettle as a build-up of limescale affects its efficiency.
You can also save money by boiling water on a gas hob as gas prices are usually cheaper than electricity prices - just try not to lose your cool each time your boiling kettle whistles you back into the kitchen.
How much are your home entertainment systems costing you?
With widescreen televisions, games consoles and home computers taking pride of place in many living rooms, it's not just the kitchen that is full of energy-sapping electricals.
Energy Saving Trust figures show that running a plasma television for just four hours a day will add up to around £43.80 per year onto your electricity bills, while throwing in a satellite set-top box, a DVD player and a Sony PS3 and a compact Hi-Fi will add on a further £30.20.
In addition, running a desktop PC with a CRT monitor, a modem and a laser will add up to £16.45 per year.
That all adds up to £90.45 per year - which actually seems fairly reasonable for a full year's running costs, particularly when you consider that running kitchen appliances for the same period of time costs over five times as much.
However, by simply leaving these appliances on standby instead of turning them off at the wall you could add a further £56.20 to your annual running costs - when you're not even using them!
How to cut the cost of running your home entertainment system
While white goods, such as those energy-hungry washing machines and tumble dryers are rated according to their energy efficiency, other electrical goods are not, so it's best to always just turn them off at the wall when not in use, instead of leaving them on standby.
And, just as you should switch lights off when you leave a room, you should do the same with televisions, radios, computers and any other appliances you have finished using.
Similarly, you should also always unplug or turn off at the wall any mobile phone, mp3 player or laptop chargers when not in use.
Other energy saving tips
Of course, there are more ways to save energy and money than just filling your fridge and turning your television off - and here we make some suggestions.
• If your white goods are coming to the end of their cycle then invest in new, more energy efficient replacements. Although this requires an initial outlay it will save you more in running costs over the long term.
• When you leave a room, turn off the lights on your way out (unless there's still somebody in there, of course) and fit energy saving light bulbs as these last 10 times longer than normal bulbs and each one can save around £40 over its lifetime.
• Insulating your hot water tank can save around £30 per year, while installing a high-efficiency condenser boiler can save up to a third on your heating bills. In addition, fitting a room thermostat could also save you around £70 per year.
• Installing loft and cavity wall insulation can also save you money on your heating bills. Contact your energy provider and local authority to see if you are eligible for a discount on installation.
• Fitting double glazed windows could cut heat loss through your windows by around 50% and reduce your heating bill by over £100 per year. However, given the cost involved this is probably only worth considering if you are looking to stay in your current house for a number of years.
• Sealing up draughts between floorboards, skirting boards and bath panels, as well as fitting draught excluders to letterboxes and laying thicker carpets with underlay can all help to stop heat escaping and could save around £55 per year.
• Installing a smart meter could be a good way to save money as this will allow you to constantly monitor and control your energy usage, even if you're not at home. For more on smart meters, click here.
• Alternatively, you could use an energy monitor, which works in a similar way to a smart meter but allows you to monitor your household appliances and electricity usage. Click here to purchase an Eco Manager from EDF Energy to find out more watch the video, below.
• And for even more energy saving tips, click here
Finally, remember that although energy prices are on the up, it still makes sense to compare what tariffs are out there using MoneySupermarket and then switch to a better deal. This alone could save you up to £200 on your energy bills.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing
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