Explainer

What can households do to offset soaring energy costs ahead of winter?

Credit: PA

In a bid to help households save hundreds of pounds on their energy bills ahead of a tough winter, the government is set to launch a media blitz with tips and advice.

The campaign is expected to focus on reducing boiler flow temperatures and switching off electrical devices rather than leaving them on standby.

It will also recommend switching off heating when leaving the house and choosing baths instead of showers.

So what else can households do to cut back their bills during the winter?

– Forget about your tumble dryer and use other appliances wisely

Tumble dryers are massive energy drains, so on warm days hang clothes outside to dry instead and invest in a drying rack for cooler months.

Invest in a laundry drying rack for cooler months Credit: Alamy/PA

Use your washing machine on a 30C cycle and reduce use by one run a week. Only run your dishwasher when it is full and use eco settings if possible.

Avoid overfilling the kettle – only boil the amount you need.

– Defrost your fridge and freezer

Remember to defrost your fridge and freezer regularly, as the more they ice up the more energy they will use.

A full freezer is more economical to run. With a full freezer, the cold air does not need to circulate as much, so less power is needed. If you have lots of free space, half-fill plastic bottles with water and use these to fill gaps.

BBC Good Food suggests you fill the freezer with everyday items you are bound to use, such as sliced bread, milk or frozen peas.

A full freezer is more economical to run Credit: Alamy/PA

– Turn off lights

Turn lights off when you are not using them or when you leave a room.

Replacing all the lights in your home with LED bulbs could help save even more.

- Turn down radiators when rooms are not being used

Turning down the heating in rooms, even by one degree, can save you money.

Most radiators have valves that control the room's temperature by changing the flow of hot water to the radiator.

Those wanting to save money should aim to keep it at a lower setting as this reduces the volume of hot water and uses less energy.

- Changing boiler flow temperatures

Lowering boiler flow temperatures – the temperature of the water that flows through radiators – can help reduce gas consumption.

Boilers often have a default temperature sent to radiators which is set higher than is actually needed, thereby reducing the efficiency of the boiler.

The appliance's efficiency can be improved by finding the ‘flow temperature’ dial/setting on the boiler and adjusting it to a lower temperature of 60 degrees.

This can help save some £100 per year, according to the government.

– Invest in insulation

Recent analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has found homes rated band F on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) system, a measure of the home’s efficiency, were set to have bills close to £1,000 more than a home rated EPC band C, the government’s target for 2035.

The calculations, performed before the government announced its energy price guarantee, showed that the average home in the UK is rated band D and these homes will pay £420 more for their gas this winter, compared with band C.

Energy Saving Trust also says that for those wishing to future-proof their homes, investing in professional draught-proofing and insulation in preparation for the winter months could lead to a reduction in bills by £405 for a semi-detached home.

Loft insulation could help bring costs down. Credit: PA

Installing solar panels for a similar property could lead to additional annual savings of around £450.

DIY draught-proofing - blocking up and sealing gaps that let cold air into the home while making sure there is sufficient ventilation and fresh air - is much cheaper and anything is better than nothing.

The government estimates draught proofing could help reduce a person's energy bills by approximately £70 per year.

Window film - a type of temporary secondary glazing - is one of the ways to help stop heat escaping through the glass of a window.

A quarter of heat in an uninsulated home is lost through the roof. Most homes have at least some loft insulation but often not enough. Topping up from 120mm to at least 270mm of insulation will help.

  • And here are some common myths

Turning boilers off is not advisable or an effective way to save energy. Instead, thermostats and timers should be used effectively to regulate their operation.

Fridges and freezers are designed to be kept on all the time and energy will not be saved by turning them off for short periods because more energy will be used to cool them down again when turned back on.

There are also important safety issues that can arise if food partially defrosts before it is prepared for eating.

The government has released some advice for households wanting to cut back on energy costs. It can be read in full here.


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