The living room is one of the rooms we spend the most time in, so there’s a lot we need to be aware of when it comes to limiting our energy usage.
How often do you have the TV on in the living room? With over 22.5 hours of TV watched by the average British household per week in 2020, it can be one of the biggest energy-using appliances in the house.
1. Think about the size and type of screen you choose when you buy a new TV. Although the prevailing trend is obviously to get the biggest screen you can afford, if you’re worried about energy consumption, it’s worth knowing that an energy-efficient 32-inch LCD will tend to use 50% less power than a 42-inch plasma screen TV. In general, the smaller your TV, the less it will cost you to run - also look at the type of television and how long it’s been on the market for.
2. Similarly, buying a new TV should also mean it uses less energy when it’s on standby - in most new TVs, energy usage is typically below one watt. Older models being kept on standby may be wasting energy. In general, turning off appliances at the plug can save £55 per year.
3. When buying your new TV, look for the energy-saving trust recommended label so you can be sure you are buying a TV with optimised energy-saving features.
4. Of course, the best way to save energy in regard to your TV is to switch it off completely when no one's watching. A Uswitch survey of British households found that 42% of people leave the TV on for nearly five hours a week for a pet. Switching off your TV when humans aren’t using it will do a lot to reduce energy usage.
5. When the TV’s on, turn down its brightness setting, as the factory settings are typically brighter than necessary for most homes. You should also switch on the ambient light sensor - if you're viewing your TV in a darker room with the sensor switched on it can reduce power consumption by adjusting the contrast of the picture automatically.
6. If you're listening to the radio through your TV, make sure you use the radio screen blanking feature - it's a handy way to save energy.
7. If you’re someone who tends to fall asleep with the TV on, that’s a habit to get out of as soon as possible. Not only does it waste energy to have the TV on when you're asleep, it’s bad for your health - research has shown that stimulation from TVs and mobile phone screens makes it harder for you to power down.
With working from home almost certain to become much more prevalent in the long-term, it’s vital to know how to limit the amount of energy our laptops use up.
8. It feels obvious to say it, but if you don’t strictly need a desktop set-up, opt for a laptop, which is smaller and therefore more energy-efficient than larger options.
9. Newer models are more energy-efficient, than older models and monitors. If you have an older model it might be worth thinking about upgrading to something that’s newer and more energy-efficient.
10. Newer machines also switch on and power down fairly quickly, making it less tempting to just leave your computer on unnecessarily which, if it’s plugged in, will definitely waste energy. You’ll save simply by turning your laptop off when not in use.
11. Utilise your power-saving settings: computers use almost the same amount of power whether they’re active or idle, so using either sleep or hibernate mode will turn off the monitor within a specified number of minutes of inactivity and save energy.
12. Use a low-energy inkjet printer where possible, rather than a higher-energy laser printer.
13. In fact, it’s a good idea to just not use printers unless totally necessary - for instance, when going to concerts or other ticketed events, there’s usually an option to display the ticket on your phone, rather than printing it out. This also saves unnecessary paper wastage.
The kitchen is where the most energy is used on a regular basis, which means there’s a whole host of measures you can take to limit the amount of energy you use when cooking.
14. The microwave is generally the most efficient way to heat up and cook food - it’s quicker because it reaches higher temperatures, and its smaller size (as opposed to the oven) means its heat is more directly focused on the food.
15. Rather than boiling water directly on the hob, it’s quicker and more energy-efficient to use the kettle to boil water and transfer it to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling.
16. On that note, if you’re using water to boil anything in a pan, make sure that you only use as much water as you need to cover the food you’re cooking - there’s no point using energy to boil water you don’t actually need.
17. If you're using the kettle to boil water, avoid overfilling it - this could save £11 a year on your electricity bills.
18. Slow cookers are also an energy-efficient cooking appliance, as well as being ideal for those who like to prep their food while they’re out or getting on with other things - they use little more energy than a traditional light bulb, making them a great, energy-efficient addition to any kitchen.
19. If you’re using the oven, cook as much as possible in one go to make sure maximum space and heat is being used. If you make lunches to have at work, it makes sense to do them all at once anyway, so using the oven this way is ideal.
20. Keep the oven door closed while you're cooking. Each time you open the door, the oven loses up to 25 degrees of heat and subsequently requires more energy to get back up to temperature. If you ensure you keep the glass in the oven door clean so you can look in, you won’t have to open it to see whether your food’s done or not.
21. If you’re planning on using frozen food, defrost it ahead of time in the fridge or on the worktop to both halve the cooking time and avoid using the energy of the microwave to defrost more quickly.
22. On the subject of defrosting, it’s important to remember to defrost your fridge freezer regularly so it doesn’t use more energy than necessary.
23. Pay attention to how long your oven takes to pre-heat, so you're ready to start cooking as soon as it's up to the correct temperature.
24. Clean behind your fridge and freezer to help keep them cool and working as efficiently as possible.
25. Reduce potato cooking time by boiling them in a saucepan before roasting them in the oven.
26. Use glass or ceramic dishes instead of metal dishes and trays in the oven. Glass and ceramic materials retain heat better than metal, making them the most efficient to use in the oven. If you’re confident deviating from recipes, you can even set the heat lower than needed because of the increased efficiency of these dishes.
27. Inserting stainless steel skewers into things like baked potatoes and joints of meat can help to speed up their cooking time, according to some people. This is because the heat is more quickly and evenly conducted throughout the food while it’s cooking.
28. If you’re cooking large food like a joint of meat, it can be worth cutting it into smaller pieces so it will cook more quickly.
29. Invest in a fan-assisted or convection oven that uses fans to circulate heat around the food as it cooks. This is more energy-efficient because it means you don’t need to turn the heat up as high as you’d need to in a normal oven.
30. Conversely, if you’re using an electric oven, turn it off ten minutes before the food has finished cooking. The temperature inside the oven will stay the same so the food will still cook through to completion without the oven needing to use any energy.
31. Always match the size of your pan to the amount of food you’re cooking to ensure that you use less energy in heating a bigger surface area than you need to.
32. Similarly, when you’ve selected your pan, make sure you use the right size hob for it. More flame than you need will waste energy and a pan that’s too big will take longer to get to the right temperature.
33. Sometimes a recipe may recommend that you don’t put lids on pans but, if it doesn’t, you should use lids in order to keep the heat in.
34. If you use a double steamer to cook vegetables, you can then layer the vegetables on top of each other while still only using one ring.
35. Remember to turn down the level of the ring or burner once you’ve reached the right cooking temperature - dishes usually just need to simmer.
36. It can be worth using a pressure cooker to cook beans, meats or stews. The pressure cooker’s lid traps steam, so the food cooks more quickly and efficiently than it would in a pan.
37. If you have an electric hob, use flat-bottomed pans - the fuller contact the pan has with the ring, the more evenly the heat will spread through it.
38. Think about your pan material - copper-bottomed pans heat up quicker than stainless steel and cast-iron pans retain heat more efficiently.
39. Make sure you clean heating rings regularly - any food that sticks to the ring will absorb heat, making it less efficient.
40. Keep your fridge full - it will use less energy when it’s well stocked. However, you should still buy only what you’re likely to use rather than spending money on food you’re not going to eat. Fill up the remaining space by stacking the fridge shelves with bowls of water.
41. Repair refrigerator door seals to ensure warm air isn’t getting into the fridge. If it is, the fridge will need to work harder and use more electricity to keep the interior cold.
42. If you use a dishwasher, only start it when it’s full. A half load uses the same amount of electricity and hot water as a full load, so waiting until it’s full means you’ll do fewer washes and save more energy. Be careful not to overload it, though, because the machine won’t be able to do the wash properly.
43. If you can reduce running the dishwasher by one run each week, you could save £14 per year.
44. If you wash up by hand, make sure you use a washing up bowl rather than wasting water as it’s running from the tap.
You might not have your washing machine or tumble dryer specifically in a dedicated utility room, but whether they’re in a utility room, the kitchen or somewhere else, it’s important to know how to limit the amount of energy they use.
45. Where possible, use a cold water or 30°C cycle. It's only for particularly dirty clothes that you are likely to need warmer temperatures, and you can save energy (and around £28 per year) by limiting the hot water you use.
46. However, you should do occasional hot water washes if you mainly use low temperature settings to help get rid of bacteria and prevent odours building up in your machine.
47. Wash clothes on the shortest practical cycle. This means you use less water which is heated to a lower temperature and undergoes a shorter cycle, which helps save both water and energy. This cycle may also cause less damage to your clothes over time, therefore helping them to last longer.
48. Soak particularly dirty items before you put them in the machine, as well as making sure you pre-treat collars with normal soap. This will avoid potentially having to repeat a wash because stains didn't come out.
49. Wait until you have a full load - you might sometimes have to put a less than full load on (in which case you can use the quick wash mode), but otherwise it's best to wait for a full basket to avoid wasting water.
50. Don’t overload the washing machine, though - you’ll find that the wash isn’t as effective, and you then need to re-wash some things, which will end up wasting energy.
51. If you can use a high spin speed so clothes come out of the washing machine almost dry, you won’t need to worry about tumble drying.
52. Keep your tumble dryer in a warm room. It will take longer to heat up if kept in an outdoor shed.
53. Give all items a decent shake when transferring from washer to dryer to prevent tangled items from taking longer to dry.
54. Use the auto-dry setting rather than a timed cycle - that way you won't be using more energy than you need to.
55. As with dishwashers and washing machines, make sure you don’t overload your dryer. There needs to be a bit of room for the hot air to move around and work effectively.
56. Remove clothes from the dryer as soon as they’re dry. A lot of machines carry on rotating to prevent creasing, which might use unnecessary energy.
57. Try to do all your drying in one day; a second or third load can take advantage of the heat that has already built up in the machine.
58. Clean tumble dryer filters regularly to make sure they're free from fluff - this will help the machine operate more efficiently.
59. If your dryer has vents, check that the outside vent works properly and doesn’t have any dust or debris that might be blocking it.
60. If you can avoid using the tumble dryer completely (for instance, drying clothes on racks or clotheslines outside), you could save £60 per year.
Your main concern in the bathroom should be the amount of water you use - if it’s hot, you’ll be using energy in heating it.
61. A water-efficient shower head will cut down the amount of hot water you use but still feel like a strong shower - if you’re concerned about the amount of water you’re using, look at investing in one.
62. Use a shower timer to help you save water and money by cutting time off every shower. A four-minute shower could save an average household £70 a year on energy bills.
63. Turn the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face - it can waste more than six litres of water per minute while it’s running.
64. Fix any leaks and drips which have the potential to waste a lot of water over an extended period of time.
65. Try turning the pressure of your shower down a little. A high-pressure power shower can use more water than a bath.
66. That said, swapping one bath per week for a four-minute shower could save you £12 on your energy bills.
Insulation is one of the easiest (though potentially costly) ways to save money and energy in heating your home.
67. Invest in double glazing if you’ve only got single panes in your windows.
68. Insulate the loft. As a quarter of your home’s heat is lost through the roof as warm air rises, significant gains can be made here. Older properties that already have insulation in place may not have the recommended levels, so ensure that your loft or attic space is properly insulated to prevent that heat loss.
69. Insulate the walls. Whether you have cavity walls or solid walls, both types can be insulated to help ensure that heat is retained. Government-backed grants are available to help you pay for insulation if your home has cavity walls. You can also insulate gaps between the floor and skirting boards.
70. Insulate your hot water pipes. Uninsulated water pipes prevent hot water from becoming hot quickly while the water’s running. Insulating the pipes will help prevent water wastage while you wait for the water to heat up.
71. Consider installing solar panels. They can be a costly addition, but they could save you as much as a third on your electricity bills.
The need to use electric lighting is obvious, but there are ways you can use less energy and spend less money in making sure you’re able to see what you’re doing when the sun goes down.
72. Use energy-efficient lightbulbs like LEDs or compact fluorescents rather than the commonly-used incandescent types. LEDs in particular use a quarter of the energy of incandescents and can last up to 25 times longer.
73. Regularly dust lights. If dust dims the brightness of the bulb, this could lead to you using lamps or other forms of lighting to brighten the room further, therefore using more energy.
74. Turn the lights off when you leave a room - this is a significant source of energy wastage and could save you £20 per year.
75. For exterior lighting, use halogen lightbulbs - they consume around a quarter less electricity than incandescent bulbs without any reduction in brightness.
76. Additionally, put exterior or security lights on timers or motion detectors so they only come on when needed, which will keep your neighbours and your wallet happy.
Your boiler and central heating system has to work effectively to distribute heat in a cost-effective way. Use these pointers to ensure you’re not wasting money when you turn the heating on.
77. Turning your thermostat down by just a single degree can save you as much as £60 per year, and you probably won’t feel the difference.
78. Buy a new boiler insulation jacket with a recommended thickness of 75mm to help keep your water hotter for longer and reduce your energy bills. A new one is easy to fit – the materials will only cost you about £25 and it could save upwards of £100-£150 a year.
79. Install a new boiler. It’s a more costly measure than some of the others on this list, but apart from ensuring that the boiler’s absolutely safe, a new model can also improve your home’s energy efficiency.
80. You can reset the controls on your central heating system so you only heat the rooms you’re using.
81. You can add chemical inhibitors to your central heating system to fight rust and keep things running efficiently.
82. Move your furniture away from radiators on the wall to enable warm air to flow more easily and efficiently around the room.
83. Bleed your radiators to remove the trapped air that stops them from working as efficiently as they should be.
84. Turn off heating in empty rooms by using the valves on radiators.
85. You can install reflector panels behind your radiators so less warmth gets lost through the wall.
86. It might be worth completely renovating or replacing the central heating system if it’s old and ineffective. This will obviously be a costly route to go down, but if the central heating is old, it’s likely the rest of the house is as well, so it might be folded into a wider renovation project.
Even though your garden (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) is outside the house, it could still have an impact on your energy bills one way or the other.
87. Opt for an electric lawnmower. Electric mowers are much less hassle to use than petrol-powered mowers, and are obviously more energy-efficient as well - all you need is a charging point.
88. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool or a hot tub, keep them covered when you’re not using them. Keeping the heat trapped underneath a cover means you’ll have to spend less energy heating them up. You might also want to invest in solar covers that heat the water.
89. Switch off pool maintenance appliances like filters when you’re not using them - there’s no point having them operating when you’re not likely to use the pool.
One of the best ways to reduce your energy usage is to see how much you’re actually using in real time and take measures to reduce unnecessary wastage.
90. Get a smart thermostat to ensure you’re not heating an empty home. Even if you have your central heating on a timer that suits your work schedule, last-minute plan changes can mean your house is being warmed while no one’s there to enjoy it. With a smart thermostat, you can remotely control your heating from your phone.
91. Get a smart meter to see where you’re using the most energy and where you might be able to reduce it. Every home in the UK should have a smart meter by 2024 but the sooner you can get one from your provider, the better.
92. If you have older appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, they probably aren’t as energy-efficient as they should be. If you can afford to, it’s worth upgrading to newer, more energy-efficient models wherever possible.
93. They don't strictly save on your energy consumption, but it's well worth seeing if you're eligible for discounts on your energy - the Warm Home Discount is a good example.
94. If you have a chimney, use chimney balloons to stop cold draughts getting into your home.
95. Stop overcharging your phone. A lot of us plug in our mobile devices at the end of the day so they can charge throughout the night, but repeatedly charging your phone to 100% actually depletes the battery life over time. To keep your mobile phone’s battery in good condition and limit unnecessary energy usage, stop overcharging it.
96. Arrange your room to let natural light in through the windows, and use mirrors to reflect that light to help keep rooms bright.
97. Clean dirty windows, both on the inside and outside - dirt can block up to 10% of natural sunlight, so give them a scrub!
98. Also, if the sun only warms some rooms, leave internal doors open to let the warm air circulate through the home to get to the rooms that the sun doesn’t touch.
99. If you’re storing leftover food or making a packed lunch, put it in reusable containers rather than using foil or clingfilm.
100. Keep your bills more accurate by submitting regular readings to your energy supplier. If you’re using estimated meter readings, this can result in higher energy bills.
101. Educate your household so everyone recognises the importance of saving energy. Try and turn energy saving into a game for kids to help them to remember to switch things off.
102. Don’t try and do everything on this list! Some points will be more relevant for you than others. Concentrate on lower-cost measures rather than high-cost measures first, and then see if your energy expenditure is at a level you’re happy with. If not, it might be time to install solar panels or renovate your central heating.