How to use less energy and reduce your bills

Man turning down thermostat

While they often appear complicated, every household energy bill comes down to the same simple equation. The more energy you use, the more it costs. As a result, saving money on your energy bills is just as simple. If you can use a little less energy, you’ll save a little more on your bills, and using less energy is easier than you might think. It starts with changing a few energy habits.

Heating

Unless you want to spend all of your time at home under a blanket, you will need to use electricity or gas to heat your home. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t control how much it costs to have a cosy home.

Outside of big energy efficiency changes like new windows or insulation, you can save money by changing your habits around heating. The first step is to ensure that heat flows freely around the areas you want to heat, so avoid blocking radiators with furniture or curtains. Once you know the heat is flowing effectively, you need to keep it in the right places. Close doors and curtains and avoid leaving windows open while the heating is on. The longer you can retain heat in your home, the less energy you will need to use on heating.

It’s also important to think about waste. Turn off the heating when you don’t need it; if the house gets too warm or you’re going out. It’s easy to set a timer and forget about it but remember that heating an empty house will cost you just as much as heating a full one.

Finally, consider turning down the thermostat in your main living area, if you have one. Dropping the temperature by just one degree will make a significant difference to your heating bills but won’t make your home any less comfortable.

 Lighting

Lighting is the other obvious opportunity for reducing energy costs. While individual lights don’t require a huge amount of energy, lighting a home can be a big energy user if not monitored closely.

Little things like leaving lights on in unused rooms start to add up on your electricity bill, but we all do it from time to time. Just cutting that habit will make a difference, but if you really want to reduce your energy usage, consider using lamps and dimmer switches to reduce the amount of energy you use to light each room. It’s also worth investing in LED light bulbs, they may cost a little more up front but will use less electricity than a standard bulb and last up to ten times longer.

In the kitchen

Lighting and heating are the obvious energy users but there are plenty of other potential energy savers around the home. For example, you can save money by making sure you fill the washing machine every time you use it. You will reduce the overall number of loads you run and a full load in a washing machine uses less energy than two half loads. It also helps to reduce the temperature of the cycle you use.

The same applies to the dishwasher, and you can make an additional saving by turning it off before the drying cycle and opening the door to allow the dishes to dry naturally.

Another common bad habit is leaving the fridge door open while preparing food. For every 10–20 seconds the door is open it takes 45 minutes for the fridge to cool down to its original temperature, so it’s important to keep the door closed.

And the living room

A lot of the energy we waste in our homes on a daily basis is through appliances that we just aren’t using. Appliances on standby can use up to 20% of the energy that they would use when switched on, so turn off all your appliances on standby (yes the TV too) at the switch on the wall. Or just plug them out.

It’s also important to unplug your phones, tablets or laptops from their chargers as soon as they have reached 100%. One charger may not make much difference but, when you have multiple chargers and other devices on standby, they can be responsible for up to 10% of your electricity bills.

Understand what you are using

They say you can’t change what you can’t measure and, thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to measure your energy usage and change your habits. Smart products, like the Nest Learning Thermostat, track your energy usage and show you how you can heat your home more efficiently. And, if you’re an Electric Ireland customer, you can also use our Smarter Home service to track your electricity usage via the Smarter Home app. You can even use smart plugs to track exactly how much energy a specific appliance is using and turn it on or off remotely if required.

If you prefer to pay for your energy up front, our Smarter PAYG meters will also give information on how you are using your energy. By paying attention to when and how you use your energy most, you can very quickly identify which habits you need to change to reduce your usage and cut your bills.

You don’t need to renovate your home or stock up on blankets to save money on your energy bills. Just changing a few habits will mean less energy usage and smaller bills.

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