With the start of spring and the clocks going forward, lighter evenings and warmer weather are mercifully on their way. A change of season is always a good time to reconsider your home energy use. With just a few easy steps, you can ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible.
Change your heating settings
Most people will adjust their heating according to the weather. They’ll turn down the thermostat, or adjust their timer settings, once there is a bit of spring warmth.
But it’s very easy to forget to do this, especially when your heating is on an automatic timer. In fact, British Gas once investigated this and found that millions of people tend to keep their heating on well into Spring, even on unseasonably hot days.
To help you more easily control your heating, you could consider buying a smart thermostat, which will enable you to control your heating, and hot water, remotely using your smartphone.
Spring is also the time to start maximising on the natural warmth from the sun, using your curtains to best effect to keep the heat in your home: open them during the day to let the warmth in, and close them at night to retain it. Similarly, take advantage of the sunshine by hanging clothes on the line instead of running the tumble dryer.
Reduce clutter and clean
Spring cleaning can have some positive side effects beyond just keeping your house tidy. By decluttering and generally keeping your appliances in good working order, you’ll help improve their efficiency.
Wipe down windows to let the sun in, clean the filter on your washing machine, and dust down lights and appliances so they are working efficiently.
Thankfully, defrosting freezers has become a chore of the past for most modern models. But fridges on the other hand, do need a little TLC. It’s worth making sure your fridge is set at the right temperature of 5 degrees Celsius or less and ensuring there’s a gap of around 10cm behind your fridge to let heat flow away more easily.
Pay particular attention to the radiator on the back of your fridge or fridge/freezer – getting rid of any dust that’s accumulated here will help it shed heat more easily so it won’t have to work as hard to stay cool.
Do some energy-saving DIY
If you’re happy spending your spring weekends tackling some DIY, then there are several small jobs around the house that can save you energy, without much hassle or cost.
Easy, money-saving green wins include and adding lagging around pipes - depending on the size of your house, you’ll probably only need to spend £20 or so on lagging, which you’ll soon make back as you could save as much as £7 a year on your energy bills.
If you haven’t already, then swap your existing bulbs for LEDs. These are cost effective: if you replace all of the bulbs in your home with LEDs, then for an initial outlay of £100 you’ll save about £35 a year on your energy bill.
Tackle your phantom load
While you’re doing the rounds with your duster, getting into every corner of the house, take a moment to switch off any devices that are running unnecessarily.
While some appliances, like a fridge or freezer, need to be left on all the time, many appliances are left on that needn’t be. This background electricity use is known as ‘Phantom Load’, because of the way in which energy is invisibly drained without users necessarily knowing about it.
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.
So, make your spring clean the start of a habit of remembering to turn off appliances such as your microwave, washing machine and oven at the plug when you’re not using them. If you think you’ll forget, then enlist other family members to help as well, including any children who are old enough.
Failing that, invest in a standby saver, a device allowing you to turn off multiple plugs at once.
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