By The Loop Team • 24 September, 2020

5 home energy mistakes you're probably making - and how to take control

It’s time to wrestle back control and stop wasting energy in your home. Many people won’t need to spend a fortune or drastically change their lifestyle to do so - it’s usually just a case of avoiding making some common mistakes. 

Here are five energy-draining errors to avoid.

1. Leaving things turned on all over the house

It’s really easy to leave appliances, lights and electronics switched on when you’re not using them - either at the plug or dozing on a standby mode. 

This can be unavoidable for some appliances like your fridge or freezer, or perhaps your router if you need it to run overnight to enable smart devices. But anything that doesn’t need to be running should be turned off, or your electricity bill will be slowly but surely ticking up. 

There’s even a name for the always-on, those devices that never get turned off: the Phantom Load. Analysis of Loop data found the average UK household wastes an average of £140 unnecessarily through their Phantom Load, while in some homes this could be as much as £450.

If being green rather than the green in your pocket is what most motivates you, then consider the environmental impact: if every household in the UK reduced their Phantom Load by £140 the carbon emissions saved would be the same as taking more than 2.8 million cars off the road each year. 

So, next time you see something on in your house that doesn’t need to be, remember our Phantom Load expression and get phantom slaying. It’s quick, easy and cost-free.

If you need more of an incentive to act, understanding just how much things are costing you to run might do the trick. (And give you ammunition to shout at anyone who leaves things on unnecessarily!)

To make that job easier, we’ve come up with an easy way for Loop users to record this information for appliances and devices around their house – the Loop Snoop. Check out the new webpage for more details.

2. Using the wrong light bulbs

The thing with light bulbs is they seem to last forever and can be easily forgotten. You occasionally need to change one, but when you do you might dip into that seemingly-endless supply of spares at the bottom of a box somewhere in a cupboard or in your garage. 

But it’s time to break out of your lightbulb stupor and take action.

Why? Because lighting accounts for 15% of a typical household’s electricity bill.

How? By buying yourself a job-lot of LED lights: they cost as little as £1, are far more efficient than the alternatives, and all you need to do is change a light bulb. 

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If you replace all of the bulbs in your home with LEDs, then for an initial outlay of around £100 you’ll save about £35 a year on your energy bill.

You can even get them for your garden, meaning you can keep your outdoor space as green and efficient as possible too.

3. Your thermostat is set too high

This is another easy mistake to make. You set your thermostat ages ago and have never looked back. The only problem is, it’s too high and as a result you’re wasting money. 

Turning your thermostat down doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort for saving money or helping the environment. You only need to down it down by as little as 1 degree to make a potential annual financial saving of £80. And the chances are, you won’t even notice the difference. 

Also, if you just have a simple thermostat system in your house, you could also be wasting quite a lot of energy by heating empty rooms. If you want to go one step further you could invest in smart heating controls and smart radiator valves. According to Energy Saving Trust, you could save an average of £60 and 310kg of carbon dioxide each year by installing and correctly using a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves.

4. You're on the wrong tariff

Been on the same energy tariff for months or even years? Then it’s time to see if there is a better deal available. You could save hundreds of pounds by switching and it needn’t be a painful process - here’s how to get going

There’s one situation which should definitely prompt flashing red switching alarm bells in your head: if you’re on a default, standard variable tariff. These are the expensive packages that you may have inadvertently ended up with when your chosen energy deal came to an end. 

While energy regulator Ofgem has introduced a price cap on default tariffs, householders could still be paying hundreds more than they need to. In fact, earlier this year, we analysed prices from some of the UK’s major energy suppliers and found that electric-only customers on an SVT pay an extra £64 on average, compared to those on a fixed rate. Dual fuel customers in the same situation fared even worse. 

So, get switching.

5. Your heat is escaping 

Do you spend a fortune to heat your home, only for much of that precious warmth to seep away through your windows, doors and walls? It’s quite possible, especially if you live in an older, poorly insulated home

Thankfully, it can be easy and cheap to better insulate your home, and it can make a real dent on your energy bills.

Research by consumer group Which? has shown that by installing loft insulation you could reduce your energy bills by as much as £215 per year.

It’s not just lofts though. Be sure to insulate pipes and draught proof your house.

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Go round and look for the small things that could make a big difference. For example, old floorboards with large gaps between them will lose heat. 

Fitting insulation is also a good way of raising your home’s energy-efficiency rating on its Energy Performance Certificate, making it potentially more appealing to buyers when it comes time to sell up. 

Now is a great time to take that step thanks to the Green Homes Grant – read more about this here in our recent guide.

Take control

Once you’ve remedied these easy-to-fix energy mistakes, then you’ll be in far better control of your home energy, with benefits for your pocket and the environment.

If you really want to take charge though, then it’s important to know how much energy you’re using and when. This is where Loop comes in. It enables you to see your home energy use in real time, meaning you can identify exactly which items in your home are using the most power. If you want to try the Loop Snoop for free, we have a 90-day free trial running at the moment, so there’s never been a better time to get sleuthing.

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With Loop, you can find out how you use electricity, then make smart decisions about using less - click here for your chance to try Loop for free.  

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