We all know what’s its like to come home in the evening on a cold winters night only to feel that inside your home feels colder than outside. Sadly, we may also be familiar with that feeling of dread when the energy bills come through the door, and how we can panic and immediately feel we have no choice but to turn off the much-needed heating.
With the winter just around the corner, and the cost of home heating constantly on the rise, now is the right time to explore the number of ways you can save on your energy bills without the need to live in a cold house.
In the following series of blogs, we will cover a few easy steps you can take that will show you how, by making some small changes to your daily habits, you can reduce your heating bills and still have a home that’s warm and inviting.
STEP 1: TURN OFF ALL APPLIANCES WHEN NOT IN USE
To some of you this may seem trivial and hardly worth the effort, but when you leave appliances plugged in that are not in use, on average those appliances on standby can make up to 10% of your energy bills.
It may also be the right time to upgrade to A-rated appliances as they use up to 55% less electricity to run, than for instance, a D-rated appliance. This initial cost will be offset with the reduction in running costs.
One of the largest energy users in your home is your fridge-freezer, so make sure to defrost regularly to ensure its running efficiently. Never leave the door open, always cover food, check the temperature (Best freezer temperature should be 5°C, and -18°C), always place the fridge/freezer away from any heat source and ensure it has adequate ventilation.
It can also be useful to fit a smart plug on all your big appliances that will show you their energy consumption, giving you the opportunity to see how to reduce its use.
These steps can provide an immediate financial incentive and something that you can begin right away.
STEP 2: TAKE A SHOWER INSTEAD OF A BATH
Encouraging everyone in your home to switch to showers rather than baths will save not only water, but the cost associated with heating that water. Small bite sized changes (like reducing the length of time you spend in the shower) to you and your families’ daily habits, can go a long way to saving not only on your heating bills but water consumption.
A five-minute shower will use about a third of the water that would be required for a bath. As baths use on average 80 liters of water, showers on the other hand, only use 35 liters, so the savings are easy to see. For every 12 showers you take you can save enough water for one bath.
Having your shower fitted with a low-flow showerhead will also reduce your water consumption thus reducing the expense of heating the water. This will have a knock-on effect of reducing your energy bills.
Taking the right steps to ensure that you are only heating the water you need rather than heating the house, is much easier with a modern heating system. However, if you are working off an immersion, check the switch is on sink rather than bath. The settings for sink should provide you with plenty of water for a shorter shower.
STEP 3: HANG YOUR CLOTHES OUT TO DRY
Even though living in Ireland we are accustomed to frequent showers, we also have days when the weather conditions are perfect for drying clothes on an outside line.
On wet days, we tend to rely on our tumble dryers. Investing in an energy efficient dryer (one with a high star rating) will help reduce your running costs. A good quality dryer can have a life span of 8-12 years. Based on the national average rate of 12 cents per kilowatt of electricity per hour, each hour of electric drying will cost between 24 and 72 cents, the more efficient the model, the less the average costs will be.
Ensuring your clothes are properly spun will also reduce the drying time required. Along with utilising indoor clothes rack, you can have a big impact on your energy costs.
During the winter months doing your washing late at night or using the energy saving mode, can also impact the costs and allow you to avail of lower electricity rates where available.
To save on your home water usage, the water from your dryer is distilled and can be used for watering plants.
STEP 4: UNDERSTAND YOUR DISHWASHER
Understanding the various programme settings on your dishwasher will allow you to choose the water and energy consumption each time you use the machine.
There are a number of steps that will help you reduce the energy consumption and also help with you water consumption. Below are tables that will go through the do’s and don’ts along with what the various programmes settings should be used for.
Your dishwasher will normally use about 13 liters of water to clean an average load, whereas handwashing of the same load will use on average 100 liters of water. On average your dishwasher uses (1,800W) of electricity per hour and costs roughly 36 cents.
STEP 5: HALVE YOUR ELECTRICTY BILL AT NIGHT
Did you know that only 15% of ESB customers have installed a night night-time meter? Unless you have a meter installed using electricity at night is not discounted and costs the same as any other time.
If you switch to ESB’s night meter you will only pay 8.5 cent per unit as opposed to the 16-17 cent you pay during other times. The cost with Bord Gáis is however slightly less, 12.9 cents for daytime use per unit and only 6.4 cents for night-time use.
According to an energy-solutions expert if you use a dryer a lot or are currently paying more than €200 per bill (2 monthly) this is definitely something you should consider.
It may help if you know the costs associated with running different home appliances:
- One load – washing machine _ 1 unit
- One load – dishwasher _ 1 unit
- One load – tumble dryer _ 2.8 to 3.5 units
- Immersion – 5-8 unites
- Fridge/freezer- under a unit.
It may also be a good idea to check how much electricity you currently use at night, simply read the meter before you go to bed and again when you get up and it will be a good indication if a night meter is