Pick up a newspaper, turn on the radio or television, browse the internet, it doesn’t really matter what we are doing we are hearing lots at the moment about the cost of living crisis in the UK and how prices are increasing, and increasing fast on products and services. Well there is always a cost to living, after all we can’t live for free, but world circumstances at the moment are raising prices of food, fuel and energy to extortionate prices. That means that for the majority of people we are cutting down on the luxuries and trying to save money where we can.
There is no magic bullet to dealing with these increased costs. It is very easy to say you need a pay increase or better paid job or the government need to do more, but in reality that is easier said than done. But there are things that you can do at home around the house to save quite a bit of money each month and we have assembled a small, hopefully helpful, list.
KEEP A SHOPPING LIST AND STICK TO IT: One on the biggest expenditures in the home (other than your mortgage or rent) can be the weekly or monthly shopping bill. How often do you go shopping and come home with things you didn’t go out for? And how much of what you buy do you actually want or need? If you have ever popped into Home Bargains for a packet of batteries you probably have a very good idea of what we mean (trying using a basket instead of a trolley, for some people this really works as with less room the idea is that you are not filling the space with unnecessary items).
Save money by cutting down on these impulse purchases. Have an active shopping list – a magnetic board on the fridge, a whiteboard in the kitchen or even a good old fashioned pad and pencil handy and write down things you need when you run out/are running out. Stick to the list when you go shopping and try not to buy those extra treats.
TRY SUPERMARKET OWN BRANDS/GENERIC BRANDS: Some are just as good – or better! Try them and see. I have just started to eat more cereal in the mornings and have tried several of the supermarket own brands (after years of sticking with probably the world’s most well-known brand) and actually prefer the taste of the cheaper brands. They are still fortified with the same vitamins but cost a third of less or the price as their more expensive counterparts.
BECOME BEST FRIENDS WITH WATER: Staying hydrated is something that we all need to do and if you are anything like me a good cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer) is a must. Cutting down on tea/coffee intake and switching to water will not only reduce the cost of buying teabags and coffee and associated items such as milk and sugar, but it will also decrease your energy costs as you won’t be boiling the kettle as much (although when boiling the kettle, put in only the amount of water that you need – it will boil quicker and be cheaper).
BOILING WATER: When boiling water for cooking use, boil what you need in the kettle first and then pour that into a pan – it is cheaper to use the kettle than to bring cold water to the boil on the hob.
COOK IN BULK: Plan and prepare meals for the week and cook in bulk. Meals such as casseroles and other simple recipes freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave saving you having to use the oven as much every day (if at all) – the microwave is much more cost effective that heating the oven.
USE ENERGY EFFICIENT APPLIANCES FOR COOKING: The oven and hob aren’t the only ways to cook. The microwave is smaller and is far much quicker to heat/reheat food. Slow cookers cook food over the course of the day (and the food tastes great) and use little more energy than a domestic light bulb. We really enjoy using our airfryer, it’s quicker and a lot cheaper to use than our electric oven and for most things the food is crispier and better tasting.
INVEST IN A VACUUM SEALER: If you cook in bulk or want to save leftover portions of unused food then a kitchen vacuum sealer is the way to go. Using a vacuum sealer keeps the food fresher, using up less space in your freezer and is excellent for managing portion control and reduces food wastage.
USE THE WASHING MACHINE ON LOWER TEMPERATURES: Where possible, use a 30°C cycle or even a cold water cycle. Most laundry items are not dirty enough for hotter temperatures and will wash perfectly fine at these temperatures. You will be saving money on your energy bills by reducing the amount of hot water needed to wash your clothes.
ALWAYS WASH FULL LOADS: Try to make full use of the washing machine and always try to wash full loads to avoid wasting water (although make sure not to overfill the machine). If you don’t have a full load, take advantage of your washing machine’s quick wash function.
AIR DRY LAUNDRY: Despite our very changeable British weather, we do have enough good days to dry laundry out on the washing line. If you are lucky enough to have a yard or a garden, once the washing machine has done its job don’t put the clothes in the tumble dryer, hang them outside on a washing line instead. Tumble dryers consume lots of energy and cutting down on dryer usage as much as you can save you up to a couple of hundred pounds per year and clothes that are dried on the line always smell fresher. If you can’t use a line and instead use a drying rack indoors, make sure that the room is keep well-ventilated. If you do have to use the tumble dryer, shake each item of clothing before it goes in the dryer so that everything is separated and dries quicker.
RUN THE DISHWASHER ONLY WHEN FULL: If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher (an electric one, not the person that stands at the sink with their hands in the water) only turn it on when it has a full load. It consumes the same amount of power and water when full as it does on a half load so take full advantage of the space. It means fewer washers, saving you money in the process. One less wash per week could save you £14+ per year.
LIVING ROOM / BEDROOM
SWITCH OFF PROPERLY: I used to laugh at my mum when I was growing up (and beyond) as before going to bed or going out the television was unplugged from the wall as was the kettle and radio, other non-essential electrical items were either switched off at the plug socket or unplugged. Now, I am doing it myself as devices left on standby or even just plugged in, the so-called “vampire devices”, are actually draining your electric even when not being used. Televisions, games consoles connected to the internet, even phone chargers and other such devices can be using quite a bit of power even though you have switched them off. To save money, do as my mum does and switch them off at the socket or unplug them when not in use – you will be surprised at how much over a year this could save you.
USE SCREEN BLANKING ON YOUR TELEVISION: Many people like to listen to the radio and use their television to do so. If that’s you and your television has a screen blanking feature, USE IT! It will save you money (and can prolong the life of your television set). You will still be able to listen to your favourite radio station but without the need for the television screen lit up displaying very little and eating up more valuable electricity.
USE TELEVISION TIMERS: If you like to watch television in bed (or in my case start watching television and have the television watching me) and generally fall asleep whilst watching it, use the television timer function so that after a set period of time the television will automatically turn off. There is no point paying the extra cost of electricity if you are not actually watching it.
CANCEL UNUSED SUBSCRIPTIONS: A good majority of us have at least one streaming subscription, whether its music, gaming, TV box sets or movies. If they aren’t being used to their full potential, then cancel them. Chances are you probably won’t even notice.
SHOWER NOT BATH: Whilst laying down in a bath full of hot water can be very relaxing, it is also quite costly and not the best use of water. Showering instead of bathing will save a fortune on water and fuel bills – less water is used therefore less water has to be heated. Better for your bank balance and the environment.
USE A WATER-EFFICIENT SHOWER HEAD: This is to cut down on the amount of water that you use whilst in the shower and you shouldn’t need to compromise on the power of the shower.
SPEND LESS TIMER IN THE SHOWER: Investing in a shower timer might be a worthwhile expense, especially if you have family members that spend forever in the shower (probably badly singing whilst they are there as well). A four minute shower could save the average family £70+ over the course of a year.
TURN OFF WATER WHILST BRUSHING TEETH: We have all done it and left the water running whilst brushing our teeth. Turn off the tap whilst brushing your teeth as otherwise you are wasting as much as six litres of water per minute while it’s running.
INSULATE HOT WATER PIPES: Insulating your hot water pipes will help water heat up faster, decreasing water wastage and giving you hot water much quicker. Less wastage and less heating time will save money. Pipe lagging is cheap, easy to fit and will pay for itself in savings very quickly.
OTHER WAYS TO SAVE ENERGY AROUND THE HOUSE
SWITCH OFF LIGHTS: A small niggle of mine has always been lights left on for no reason. If you are not using a room, why do you need to have it lit up? Turn off the lights when you are no longer using that room, the house doesn’t need to be lit up like an airport runway. Switching lights off when leaving a room could reduce your electricity bill by a few pounds per month.
CHANGE LIGHTBULBS TO SMART BULBS: Smart lightbulbs like the Tapo Smart Bulb can help save money over traditional lightbulbs and have the ability to be controlled via your phone. You can dim them, set schedules and timers and even use them as part of your home security setup.
UNPLUG OR SWITCH OFF AT THE WALL: Unplug unused devices or switch them off at the plug socket on the wall. Even an unused kettle can draw power, albeit a small amount. Switching off at the wall all those unused devices that can draw small amounts of power can actually save a fair amount of money on your annual energy bills. If you don’t have switches on your plug sockets think about changing them and when using extension gang strips buy ones where each individual socket can be switched off. You might also want to think about investing in some remote controlled plugs so that things such as television can be switched off properly and not left on standby.
SWITCH OFF COMPUTERS/LAPTOPS WHEN NOT IN USE: Lots of us have a desktop computer or laptop and tend to leave them on or shut the lid for them to go to sleep. This is wasting energy and adding to your electric bill. Turn them off when not in use. Most don’t take long to boot up again. And in the case of laptops, when turned off or you have removed the AC adapter from the laptop unplug it from the wall (or switch off the plug switch) as the AC adapter will still be drawing power.
TURN DOWN THE HEAT: Turning down the thermostat in your home by just ONE DEGREE may not seem like much and you probably won’t even notice the difference but it will save you a fair bit of money on your fuel bills over the year.
BLEED RADIATORS REGULARLY: Removing any trapped air in your radiators will make them work more efficiently and heat rooms better, having to work less.
ADD REFLECTOR PANELS BEHIND RADIATORS: This stops heat being lost through the wall by reflecting the heat back into the room. It means you will need your heating on less.
DON’T BLOCK RADIATORS WITH FURNITURE: If possible, don’t push furniture up against the radiators (especially big bulky sofas) as it stops the heat coming up into the room.
TURN OFF RADIATORS IN UNUSED ROOMS: If you are not using rooms in your home (spare bedroom for example) turn off the radiator in that room (or turn it down to a lower temperature). This will reduce energy costs by not heating unused spaces.
GET A SMART METER: By 2024 all UK households should have smart meters but if you can get one sooner we would recommend it. You will be able to seen where you are spending most on gas and electric and will help you find ways to reduce it as you can see a glance the costs involved. For example, take a note on a days average usage and the next day unplug the televisions where not in use and see how much difference it makes.
SUBMIT REGULAR METER READINGS: Always submit regular gas and electric meter readings to your suppler(s). Estimated bills can be quite far off the mark, so submitting your readings online will help you have much more accurate bills.
BLOCK OFF CHIMNEYS: If you have an unused chimney, use a chimney balloon (effectively a draught excluder for your chimney) to stop the heat escaping from your rooms.
STOP OVERCHARGING DEVICES: Repeatedly charging your phone to 100% whether it needs it or not actually depletes the battery life over time (and with more and more phones not having a removable battery this could become expensive). When charging devices such as phones and tablets, as soon as they are charged try to get into the habit of unplugging them straight away.
EDUCATE YOUR HOUSEHOLD: There is no point in trying to implement any of these rules if the rest of the household don’t know about them. Educate the rest of the household in the importance of saving energy and reducing costs. REMEMBER TO SWITCH THINGS OFF.
Some people may take a longer view on energy savings/wastage, if they can afford it, and replace windows to more energy efficient ones, adding solar panels to the roof, changing their cars to electric etc. There will be plenty of ways to save money around the home, if you have any suggestions, please do let use us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.