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How to cut your energy usage before the big chill

How to cut your energy usage before the big chill

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 23/09/2015
First Published: 23/09/2015

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This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Is it just us, or has it been getting far too cold for September? Whether you're relishing the chance to get cosy in thick jumpers or are berating the swift disappearance of summer, one thing's certain – the big winter chill is fast approaching, and if you want to make sure your bills don't skyrocket even faster than usual, you'll want to start keeping an eye on your energy usage.

  • Don't automatically head for the thermostat. The annual discussion over when to put the heating on has well and truly begun in many households, but if you can, try not to succumb too soon. It may be tempting, but grabbing an extra jumper or pulling on a pair of fluffy slippers will be far cheaper, and you'll probably be cosier, too.
  • If you have to tumble dry, do so off-peak. The transition to autumn means that your days of hanging the washing out on the line have largely come to an end, particularly if you work full-time and can't keep an eye on the weather. This means that the tumble dryer could become your new best friend, but try not to rely on it too much – drying racks and radiators can be just as effective, even though it may take a bit longer. And, if you must use a dryer, make sure to run it off-peak to keep your bills as low as possible.
  • Turn lights off when leaving a room. After a few months of enjoying lighter evenings, it can be a shock to discover that your rooms are being swathed in darkness by the time 7:30pm hits, and many of us are tempted to keep the lights turned on to keep the feeling of brightness for longer. But, that can add unnecessary expense to your energy bills – if you're not in the room, switch the light off!
  • Wash at 30°C. This isn't necessarily seasonal, but is something we should ideally do all year round– washing at 30°C. Most clothes can be just as effectively cleaned at this temperature as at 40°C, so there's no real reason not to. And when you add cost savings, energy efficiency and environmental points into the mix, why wash basic loads at any other temperature?
  • Become more heat efficient. Now the temperature's starting to drop, you want to retain as much heat as possible in your home, without resorting to turning up the heating full blast at all times. There are plenty of ways you can achieve that – start by closing the curtains at dusk to keep the heat in, and you may want to switch to thicker curtains or even thermal ones when winter really sets in. Draught-proof as much as you can and make sure that your window and door seals are intact, and you may want to fit reflector panels behind your radiators, which can reflect up to 95% of the radiator's heat energy back into the room.
  • Compare and switch. This isn't a way to lower your energy usage as such, but it is a way to cut your bills – compare energy providers! Loyalty will get you nowhere in this industry and you could well find cheaper tariffs if you look elsewhere, particularly if you've never switched or if you're on a variable rate tariff, so use our search tool to see if you could save money quickly and easily.

Of course, these are just the basics, and there are plenty of other things you should be doing year-round to make sure you're using as little energy as possible. Not only is it better for the environment, but it's better for your wallet, too, and if you combine these few simple tips with switching energy supplier, you could keep your bills in check no matter how low the mercury goes.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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