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Much of the country is in the midst of a cold snap, and those freezing temperatures mean the heating system could be working overtime – and your gas and electricity bills could ramp up as a result. But what if you could keep your bills under control without having to battle hypothermia? The key is being energy efficient, and research from Anglian Home Improvements has found that households could be wasting hundreds of pounds each year by making costly energy mistakes.
The research uncovered a widespread lack of knowledge about energy efficiency, with just 14% of respondents knowing that the optimal temperature for a home is 21°C, with 24% believing it to be higher than that. Getting this wrong could easily cost you money, with the Energy Saving Trust finding that £65 is added to the annual heating bill for each extra degree onto the thermostat – a sum that could quickly add up!
Similarly, respondents also underestimate the amount of money spent to power appliances on standby mode: 17% believe that £41 to £50 is spent each year by leaving appliances on standby, when actually it's almost twice that, costing an average of £80. Many could be paying for it, too, with 50% leaving their TV on standby, 44% leaving plugs switched on, 35% leaving their mobile phone on charge overnight, and 27% leaving their laptop on charge for more than an hour at a time.
Despite these clear energy mistakes, it seems that most people think they're pretty savvy when it comes to energy saving, with 70% of those polled describing themselves as energy efficient. It's perhaps for this reason that people don't view investing in energy efficient measures a priority: respondents spent an average of £314.60 on boosting the energy efficiency of their home over the last year, compared with £905.41 spent on improving the look and decoration of their property.
However, having an energy-efficient home can be a key factor when selling a property – 73% said they take it into account when looking to buy – so focusing on improving it could be profitable in more ways than one.
"I think most of us would describe ourselves as being energy efficient, but it's easy to forget all the little habits – like leaving the lights on when we leave a room – can lead to higher energy bills," said Melanie Mcdonald of Anglian Home Improvements. "The survey showed that energy efficiency is a big deciding factor in the house buying process, so we would advise anyone thinking of selling their home in the near future to focus on the efficiency of their property as well as the decor."
This could include anything from sealing any gaps around door and window seals to adding loft or cavity wall insulation, and if you've got single glazed windows, it may be time to switch to double glazed. These kinds of things can all save money in the long run, even if they cost a bit to begin with, as they'll reduce heat loss and lead to a far more efficient home. Don't forget about more basic ways to save energy, such as turning appliances off rather than leaving them on standby, and if you think you're paying too much, compare alternative tariffs to get a cheaper deal.
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