Tips to beat the Big Freeze

Published:
06 January 2010
Topic:
News,Gas & Electricity

The National Grid has announced that supplies of gas are low - only the second time it has issued such a warning.

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures have caused demand to rocket by 30% compared to what would usually be expected at this time of year.

Even using electricity can help burn a hole in the country's stock, as power stations often use gas to generate energy.

Of course, the average householder can't have much of an impact on national gas supplies - the National Grid's warning is aimed at power stations in the hope they'll reduce their gas consumption and increase coal usage, as well as to encourage suppliers to alleviate the problem by buying and pumping more gas into the UK.

However, it is a timely reminder for households that, while the wintry weather is very pretty - many will face an ugly energy bill as a result.

Thanks to the freezing weather and thousands of snowbound people being stuck in their houses because they can't make it to the office, we're all facing a heavier bills than normal.

So, whether you want to do your very small bit for the nation's gas supplies, or simply cut down your energy bills, here are some ways to do so.

Calculate your carbon

If you're on a diet, it's easier to lose weight if you can watch the pounds coming down - and it's the same for cutting back on energy use.

Once you can see how much power your home is burning every day, it's much easier to start cutting back on use.

There are several options. The ACT ON CO2 website has a carbon calculator that can help you work out where you're needlessly wasting energy and how to cut back.

Within the home, it could be worth investing in an energy monitor - or asking your gas or electricity provider if it will give you one.

These clever gadgets plug into your home and show you how much energy you're using at a time, plus what that's costing per hour.

Some even tell you your emissions total and what your bill stands at.

Change your heating habits

So much of reducing energy use is simply down to changing habits. When it comes to heating, there are plenty of ways to cut back on the power you use in your home.

Only heat what you need

Do you have spare bedrooms or rooms you rarely use? Why bother heating them, it only costs money and wastes energy.

Turn the heating down in rarely-used rooms and you'll only be paying for warmth you're actually using.

Wrap up

It's not so long ago that central heating was not the norm and people simply wore more indoors. Of course, it's a good thing we've moved on from that and no one should be cold at home - especially not the elderly.

However, it's easy to get used to wearing t-shirts indoors when you could pop a jumper on and turn the thermostat down a notch.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, just turning your heating down by one degree can knock an average of £55 a year off your gas bill.

Talking 'bout good insulation

There's no point heating your home if all that lovely warmth is seeping out through your windows and roof.

Insulate your loft - it costs just a few hundred quid but will save you money for ever. It's also worth considering cavity wall insulation.

Whether you can install it will depend on the type of property you live in, but as with loft insulation it can really help conserve energy and bring your bills down.

And get in the habit of drawing the curtains at night too - not only does it stop people peering into your room as they walk past your house but it's cosier and it keeps the warmth indoors.

  

Going easy on the gadgetry

We waste so much energy by leaving appliances on standby, lighting empty rooms and leaving laptops plugged in.

Make sure you shut down or turn off anything you aren't using: Even leaving an appliance on standby or a mobile phone charger plugged in still uses electricity. Your energy monitor will help you by showing how much money is being wasted!

Only heat the water you need

Loads of energy is used heating water in our homes - water for bathing, washing clothes, cleaning dishes and hot drinks.

Again, by changing habits you can dramatically cut back on the amount of water you heat and therefore the energy you need.

Kettles

It's a fairly easy habit to get into - only boil as much water as you need at a time (although make sure the elements in the kettle are always covered!).

Machines

Only use the washing machine or dishwasher when they are full as this means you have to do fewer loads.

If possible, avoid using the tumble drier - hang washing outside when the weather's fine and let the sun bake it dry.

Thermostat

Check your water thermostat is set to the right temperature - the Energy Saving Trust recommends around 60 degrees/140 Fahrenheit.

Any higher and you're wasting energy.

Leaks

If your hot water tap is dripping then you're wasting enough hot water every month to fill two baths, so get them fixed as soon as possible.

Washing

The moneysupermarket.com community forum is always keen to recommend sharing a bath with a friend but you really don't have to go that far to save energy.

Simply use a shower instead of a bath where possible - it uses much less water.

Cut your costs

Moving to a cheaper energy supplier won't help you cut back on energy but it will save you money on the gas and electricity you do use.

You could save as much as £325 a year by switching to a cheaper gas and electricity provider. Compare a range of tariffs and find the cheapest one for your home.

You may also qualify for financial help towards the cost of a new boiler. Read our article 'Will you benefit from the boiler scrappage scheme?' to find out more.

Related Links

Rate This Article

Click on a star to rate this article.

21 ratings

Email a Friend

Let a friend know about this news item with an email containing a link to this page, and a customised message.

 *
 *
 *
 *

 

 *

This helps us prevent automated programs from using and slowing down our services.