With the cost of living in the UK on a sharp rise which is set to continue throughout this year, everyone is naturally looking to save their money wherever possible when it comes to bills. Over 2022 we’re going to see energy prices leap up, with the government raising the energy price cap in April, so there are a number of different energy saving tips floating around.
Some of these are useful but some are simply false and will waste your time and your money, the Mirror reports. In such an uncertain time this isn’t something most people can afford to do, making bad advice seriously harmful.
Fortunately, MoneySavingExpert has collected the best and worst of these tips from keeping heating on all day to putting clingfilm on your windows, so we’ll help you separate the facts from the fiction.
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Should I leave the heating on low all day or turn it on when I need it?
The Energy Saving Trust says that having the heating on all day on a low setting to save money is a myth. It’s better to turn it on only when needed if you want to save energy and, therefore, money. Homes leak energy all day long – how much will depend on things like your insulation and the quality of your windows and doors, so keeping the heat on all day will mean losing energy all day, too.
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What about clingfilm on the windows?
This actually does work, the idea being that it helps to stop heat escaping. The Energy Saving Trust says that you can use any material for the second layer of glazing, as long as it’s transparent and airtight. Although clingfilm is a quick and cheap option, specialist secondary glazing will last longer.
What about my hot water boiler?
A gas, oil or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) central heating system is best operated by only turning the hot water on when required. Those who have an electrical immersion heater on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, however, will find it cheaper to heat their water during the night – make sure your tank is well insulated to prevent it cooling during the day.
Devices on standby or chargers left in the socket
According to British Gas, chargers and appliances left in a socket can indeed use energy. Many types of devices, such as games consoles, laptops and TVs, draw small amounts of power when not in use but are still plugged in and turned on at the socket. This can be easily avoided by turning devices off at the wall when not in use.
How much it’ll save you is up for debate, though. The Energy Saving Trust says you can save about £35 a year by turning off your appliances at the plug, but a recent report from The Sunday Times has said that you’d need 38 massive TVs to achieve this. The report also said that most modern devices consume much less power while on standby than they used to, so you might not end up saving all that much by turning things off at the plug, though you still would save a little.
Will my smart meter save me cash?
Not on its own, no. All smart meters do is replace old-style meters, sending readings to your supplier automatically. What they do help with, though, is showing you how and when you’re using the most power via the display that comes with the meter. This could help you make changes to reduce your usage.
Are radiators or electric heaters cheaper?
This is an easy one – electric heaters are expensive to use, according to the Energy Saving Trust. An efficient gas central heating system, with a full set of thermostatic radiator valves, a room thermostat and a timer, will be much cheaper to run and provide a better overall result in terms of heat.
Should I run appliances at night rather than during the day?
This depends on your tariff. Some households are an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, where you pay less during the night, but more during the day. However, if you’re on a flat tariff it won’t make a difference. If you’re running appliances – such as tumble dryers – at night, make sure it’s safe to do. If you’re unsure what tariff you’re on, check your latest energy bill or ask your energy company.
Does painting radiators black or putting reflective panels behind them help?
The first one’s a myth too, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Keep them the standard white. However, reflective panels behind the radiators can help save energy.
While the colour of your radiator doesn’t make much difference to the amount of energy consumed, putting reflective panels behind radiators will help reflect heat from the radiator back into the room, so it doesn’t escape through external walls. The trust also says homes with un-insulated walls will get most benefit from the reflective panels.
Should I keep doors open or closed for each room?
If you don’t have heating on in a room, it’s better to keep doors for that room closed, the Energy Saving Trust has advised. Radiators, electric panel heaters and convection heaters all work by creating a convection current in a room. This means that as hot air rises it circles around the room, cools and sinks back to the floor to be heated again.
Closing doors makes sure this current remains within the designated space, and stops cold air entering. The Energy Saving Trust recommends you leave the heating on to some degree during winter, even if you’re not there, because the helps prevent frozen pipes, which can cause hundreds of pounds of damage.
Should I use a tumble dryer, or place washing on a rack with heating on?
Tumble dryers use a lot of energy so it’s better to air-dry your clothes when the heating is on. However, drying clothes indoors can cause problems with condensation and dampness, so whenever the weather allows, dry your clothes outside.
If you need to dry clothes indoors, the National House Building Council advises that people open the window and close the door of the room where the clothes are drying, so moisture can escape rather than circulate around the home.
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