It’s a couple of weeks now since the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) admitted that the ESB and Bord Gais would be allowed increase their charges to customers – despite the fact that their fuel costs will have dropped by 20% in the last 3-4 weeks.
We could go on about the fact that this is yet another useless government quango that amazingly describes its mission as “acting in the interests of consumers is to ensure that: the prices charged are fair and reasonable”.
But we won’t! We’ll be a whole lot more positive and provide a listing of simple Top Tips that you can apply to your day to day lives which should cut down on your usage of both gas and electricity. This is something that I’ve successfully done in the past, and continue to do today. With a little bit of thought and effort, you could at least save yourself the cost of any price increases.
Here’s our Top Tips to reduce your electricity costs:
- Unplug your phone charger when its not actually charging a phone.
- Turned off your TV/Video/DVD/Digital box at the wall at night - equipment on stand-by uses up to 20% of the energy it would use when fully on.
- As your light bulbs go out, replace them with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) – it’ll be the law soon anyway. These bulbs use 20% of the energy and last up to 15 times as long (though they are initially more expensive to buy).
- Always make sure to always switch off lights when you leave a room - energy is wasted lighting unoccupied rooms. Also, there’s rarely need for lights on in hallways if you’re not there – though I know it’s an "Irish thing" to have lights on in the hallway when you’re home.
- A simple thing that can be done every time you make a cup of tea – and I used to always fall foul of this myself. Stop overfilling the kettle - only boil as much water as you need.
- It’s said that you should avoid unnecessary electricity use between 5pm and 7pm. For me, I’m rarely home before 7 anyway.
- If you need to replace any home appliances (such as fridges, cookers or boilers), make sure you select A rated models which will be much more efficient.
- Don’t forget to use half load or economy programme on your washing machine, dishwasher or tumble dryer if you’re not filling them up. Alternatively, just wait for a full load.
- The temptation these days with always-on broadband is to leave your computer always on as well. Turning your computer whenever you’re not using it for more than an hour, and especially overnight and during the day if you’re at work could save you 25% of the cost of powering your computer for the year.
- Do you really need a tumble dryer? After the fridge, they’re the second biggest user of electricity in the household. Can you line dry your clothes instead?
And here’s our Top Tips to reduce your gas costs:
- Check the level your heating is turned to - I turned down my heating to 20ºC. By lowering your thermostat by 1ºC, it will knock 10% off your heating bill.
- You should also regularly check the timing settings for your central heating – do you need it on for as long as it’s currently set to be on? Even cut 10 minutes here and there.
- Keep your curtains closed in the evenings – otherwise heat can escape through the windows. But if you have south facing windows, leave them open during the day to take in any heat that we might get in the coming months.
- Check which rooms have heat turned on in them. If you absolutely need to have heat on in those rooms, keep the doors closed – otherwise switch off the heat in those rooms.
- In such unused rooms, make sure that the windows and air vents are closed properly. Reducing drafts through the whole house will do two things – save energy on normal heating costs, and will remove any temptation to turn on the heat if people are feeling cold.
- Do you have leaky taps or shower heads especially hot water taps? Get them fixed as soon as possible to reduce wasting your hot water.
- Use less hot water wherever possible. Don’t wash your teeth, or shave, or wash the dishes under running hot water taps. Take a shower in the morning rather than a bath in the evening.
- If you’ve a gas cooker, remember that you lose 20% of the heat in the oven every time you check your dinner. Make sure you use a ring size to suit the saucepan you’re using, and always place the saucepan dead centre on the ring.
- Make sure to switch off all your central and hot water heating if you’re away for the day, or for the weekend.
- Always make sure your radiators are not covered over, or left hiding behind furniture. The clearer the space around a radiator, the better the circulation of heat around the room from it.
Remember, all these tips are things to you can pretty much do right now. You don't need to spend any big money to start. Just do it now and save yourself some cash.