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If you want to save money this winter, fill your freezer with cardboard

It’s Energy Saving Week soon (21-25 October), and that’s roughly when I start wishing I’d taken care of all those draughty problems in my behemoth of a home during those long hot summer months. I really can do little to warm it up as it’s a listed building, which doesn’t mean it can’t be warm inside, it’s just that the walls are solid and  the heat goes straight out through them, and I haven’t got secondary glazing.  And, as it always costs me a fortune to stay only marginally warmer than cool, I’m back to state-of-the-art zonal heating; in other words I turn off all the heating and carry an electric fire from room to room.  I don’t think I’m alone in this practice either.

If I can’t feel warmer than chilly, I’d at least like to cut down on my energy bills as I’m clearly not getting the full benefit of all those thermal units my boiler’s generating.  And Blueflame, Colchester-based heating and renewable energy specialists, have come up with some novel ideas to help me do just that.

So if fist-bitingly high energy bills are the norm for you, and they are now for most of us, here are Blueflame’s top ten tips on keeping warm and saving money. You don’t need any DIY skills, just minimal effort and a willingness to make some small adjustments that could become a way of life.  It won’t cost you a penny but it could save you pounds   every single month.

See what you think, or give it a go:

 1. Take a six-and-a-half minute shower

Showers are the biggest consumer of water in the home, accounting for 25% of all usage. They are supposed to be more energy efficient than baths but as we’re all spending, on average, seven-and-a-half minutes in the shower, it’s only just.  We’re using around 62L of water versus 80L for a bath and a power shower uses even more.  If we all cut one minute off the time we spend taking a shower, British households would save a total of £215 million on energy bills each year.

2. Don’t overfill the kettle

On the subject of water, did you know that as a nation we waste £68 million a year in heating water we don’t need?  Only heat what you’re going to use and you could save around £8 a year from just using your kettle properly.  You can increase your savings to £40 a year by only using full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine, setting the washing machine to 30°C and avoiding the tumble dryer until it’s absolutely necessary.

3. Keep a lid on it

When cooking on the hob always keep the lid on the saucepan, use just the right amount of water on vegetables and cut up food into smaller pieces.  This way you’ll reach the cooking temperature faster and the cooking time needed will also be reduced. The size of saucepan’s important too; use a small pan on a large burner and you’ll be wasting energy heating the air instead of the food.  Heating a six-inch saucepan on an eight-inch burner wastes 40% of the energy used.

4. Keep the airing cupboard door open

If you have an airing cupboard, then instead of keeping the door shut, it should be left open or ajar.  There’s plenty of heat that the airing cupboard can supply to keep hallways warmer.  You can even put your airer in front of the doorway to dry your clothes and avoid using the tumble dryer.

5. Keep doors shut on rooms you don’t use

If you don’t use all your rooms all the time, if the kids are at Uni or you tend to stay in one room for example, don’t waste money heating them.  Turn the radiator valves right down to a frost setting and keep the doors shut.  That way you’re not wasting energy unnecessarily and keeping the heat where it’s needed.

6. Turn them off – at the plug

All electrical appliances, with the exception of satellite and digital TV recorders, should be turned off at the plug when they’re not in use.  Households spend on average over £50 a year on appliances left in standby mode or not in use.  Phone and laptop chargers are the worst; if not switched off at the plug they will use the same amount of energy as if they were actually charging.

7. Draw the curtains

Even if your home has double glazing, drawing the curtains will provide a greater degree of insulation by preventing warm air from leaving the room and cold air entering.  You’ll undo all the good work if the curtains cover the radiator because you’ll be blocking the heat from the room. If you have an older, draughtier house, complete with original sash windows, curtains are essential.

8. Control the heat you need

Everyone knows they should turn the thermostat down by one or two degrees to save money, but it could save around £65 a year on your energy bill.  You could increase those savings by paying more attention to the timer. The heating should come on before you get out of bed, but make sure it goes off an hour before you go to bed otherwise you’re wasting a lot of unnecessary energy heating your home while you’re sleeping. To save more money, you could trim the times so the heating comes on a little later and goes off a littler earlier.

9.  Keep your freezer full

The refrigerator and freezer are the most expensive kitchen appliances to run as they’re on 24/7.  If they’re not full, then the compressor has to work even harder to keep the food – and all that air – at the required temperature and that will add to your energy bill. If you can’t fill your fridge or freezer with food, or you’re going on holiday and have run stocks down, then fill it with empty cardboard boxes which are closed/taped up;  the fridge and/freezer will use less energy and you’ll see the difference in your bill.

10.  Wrap up 

It sounds old-fashioned, but just getting into the habit of wearing another layer of clothing when it gets colder will make you feel more comfortable and less likely to turn the thermostat up.

All energy saving statistics have been supplied by the Energy Saving Trust and can be viewed on its website: www.energysavingtrust.org.uk.  If you want to talk to Blueflame about energy saving and renewable energy systems, you can call the team on 01206 799994 or visit: www.blueflame.co.uk

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