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As the days begin to shorten and the temperatures plummet, many of us will be looking for ways to lower our winter energy bills.
Let me preface this by saying that it pains me to have to write this guide. There’s no denying that winter energy bills have become a fear of most twenty-first-century households. Heating, light and a cosy home are among some of the most basic human needs. And yet, the price of gas, oil and electricity has been steadily increasing. For many, even dual earners, this could mean choosing between a healthy meal or staying warm.
While this guide may work for some, I want to make it known that these are just a few ways that both my husband and I have seen fit to reduce our bills. We are dual earners, with no dependants and living in a fairly new home. Therefore, I know that this won’t be suitable for everyone. But I hope that at least some of this advice can be achievable and help you to make a difference.
Why has it become so difficult to afford our winter energy bills?
Finding it difficult to afford household energy bills isn’t a new thing, despite reports. The drastic changes in our climate and extreme weather conditions are just one of the many reasons for increasing pressures. Many regions have become colder than ever before, meaning that our heating needs to be on more often to stay comfortable. Even places in mainland Europe that have never experienced harsh winter weather are finding it difficult to cope with plummeting temperatures.
In correlation to this, the cost of our heating fuels has skyrocketed! Last year, for example, we saw oil prices in the UK rise as high as six hundred pounds per five hundred litres! To get an idea of just how drastic this is, my husband and I bought a five hundred-litre oil fill for just two hundred and fifty pounds back in twenty eighteen. This year? We’ve spent over one thousand throughout the year on just two five-hundred-litre fills.
As for the price of electricity? Who knows! With more and more energy-efficient gadgets, you think we’d see a decrease in energy bills if used wisely. But it’s proving to be the opposite, with electric companies consistently increasing their tariffs. So much so, that we stopped following it months ago, scared of what we might find.
5+ Ways to save on your energy bills this winter!
Unplug Electronics and Chargers.
One of the simplest ways to reduce winter energy bills is to identify all the devices and chargers you use and turn them off after use. It’s so easy to leave your television on standby or a device charging for longer than necessary. But, the truth is, even if you aren’t using them, charges continue to consume energy, as to things left on standby! Granted, it’s not much, but turning these all off consistently will help curb your energy bills.
Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Appliances.
While it may cost a penny or two, it’s a good idea to consider upgrading old, energy-consuming appliances for newer models. You’d be surprised by just how much money new appliances can save you on your winter energy bills! they’re designed to consume less and work more efficiently with the energy they have. Yes, that even includes your kettle and other smaller appliances.
Identify and Seal Air Leaks.
Until recently I wasn’t aware of just how much energy we can lose from an incorrectly sealed home! We’ve taken to weatherstripping and insulating our home in any places we find that allow heat to escape! A particular challenge for us currently is the crack in the bottom of our patio doors. While this may be expensive to fix, we’ve taken a temporary approach by buying a draft extractor!
Check your home for all possible points for heat to escape and take steps to fix them! You can do this professionally by hiring a contractor or, if you’re DIY savvy, tackle the issue yourself.
Upgrade Your Insulation.
Similar to air leaks, when it comes to maintaining a comfortable indoor temperature, proper insulation is key! This means you might back to check your attic, walls and even floors for gaps or wear and tear! New build homes tend to hold heat well due to how they’ve been built. My own home, for example, is built specifically to hold in heat, with smaller rooms and cavity walls filled with insulation. However, we’re aware of several areas that need some TLC purely because of the ‘quick-build’ nature of newly built homes. There are several places where insulation may need to be adapted or air leaks may need to be filled.
No matter the age of your home, always double-check that you’re ready for the winter. While it’s not easy to check between walls or below floors, look for what you can change. Climb up into the loft and check the insulation and integrity of the roof, and even check around your windows and doors.
Practice Energy-Saving Habits.
No matter what you do, whether you choose to upgrade your home and appliances, practising energy-saving habits is a must. You can have the most energy-efficient microwave oven in the world, but if you’re not practising energy-saving habits, then it’s futile!
But what are these mystical habits I’m talking about? And how can they save on your winter energy bills?
- Encourage your household to turn off lights when not using them.
- Unplug and switch off devices when not in use.
- Washing clothes with colder water.
- Only boil the water you need in your electric kettle.
- Instead of a daily bath, switch it up for a shower.
- Avoid the tumble dryer if you can!
- Fill your dishwasher before using it. Likewise with the washing machine!
- Close doors to keep heat in! Specifically, if you have the heating on throughout the house or an open fire on.
While these changes might be small, they can save you more than you think! Can you come up with any other tips?
Maximize Natural Heat.
What does this mean? Well, it means allowing in natural sunlight during the day and keeping its natural warmth in during the night. Open your curtains early when the sun rises and close them at night. Furthermore, if you have an open fire, be sure to utilise it! Here in Ireland, most homes have either an open fire or a stove, both of which are paramount for helping to heat your home.
How else can you reap the benefits of natural heat?
- Cuddle up with your pets or loved ones.
- Grab a blanket or two.
- Put on an extra hoodie or house coat (dressing gown).
Monitor Your Energy Usage.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you have to monitor your energy usage. If you have the ability to do so, make sure you’re keeping an eye on your monthly expenditure. For those with the ability to top-up on electricity and gas, this may be easier than for those who pay monthly or quarterly.
There are also home energy monitors that can help you monitor your real-time usage! There are plenty to choose from on places such as Amazon, but do your research! Read the reviews and look online for recommendations! While my husband and I haven’t taken the plunge to actually monitor our usage in real-time, we have looked into it.
Here’s just one device that can be used to monitor the energy usage of a practical device. You might want to use this on your electric kettle, microwave, television or even charging devices to see just how much energy they consume.