Top tips to reduce your energy bill

1 Jan 2022
8 min read
Rolls of insulation

One Home’s Founder Angela Terry on Channel 5

As the energy and linked cost-of-living crises rage on, One Home’s founder, environmental scientist Angela Terry, was the featured expert in an item on home energy efficiency on 5 News.

On location at Channel 5 reporter Ruth Lipton’s home, she talked through all the energy efficiency measures that could cut both her energy bills and her carbon footprint. Angela’s main message iss that going green saves money.

Walking the reporter through her home, Angela explained a raft of simple and practical energy efficiency measures that could be installed to cut energy bills overnight. For example, she explained how a chimney balloon could stop expensive heat escaping up the chimney and how radiator foil could be placed behind radiators, to bounce heat back into the room – stopping it from seeping out via windows and walls.

She also showed how a simple brush seal attached to the bottom of your front and back doors can trap in precious heat and stop drafts. In terms of homes without double glazing, she demonstrated how thermal film, bought from a DIY shop, could be quickly stuck over windows to improve their insulation capabilities.

Such energy efficiency measures are going to be vital for most of us, especially as fuel bills are due to go up even more in the autumn. Indeed, Citizens Advice estimates that over 14 million people won’t be able to afford their energy bills from October, when energy regulator Ofgem will put the energy price cap up again – increasing the limit on the unit rate and standing charge that energy suppliers can charge for their standard variable tariffs.

This unprecedented situation won’t be solved by energy efficiency measures alone – but they can certainly help ease the pain. The UK has the leakiest housing stock in Western Europe. To get ourselves up to the standards of our neighbours, there are numerous easy measures most homeowners can install.

Angela Terry says: “Not all household energy efficiency measures are expensive. Many are simple, everyday DIY tasks that cost a few pounds and save you lots more, especially over time. This energy crisis is not going to go away any time soon and it’s best we take some time to prepare our homes for the winter.

“If you’re renting, not only can you do simple things, like buy draft excluders and lay rugs over bare floorboards, you can also ask your letting agent to see your property’s energy performance certificate (EPC). Landlords are required by law to produce this document for new tenants. Any property that is below an E rating has to be improved, up to the value of £3,500, by law.”

Here are Angela’s home energy saving tips in full:

Insulate your loft. It costs about £530 for the average semi. This will be much cheaper if you lay the mineral wool yourselves. If you don’t have loft insulation you are paying a fortune to heat the sky because a quarter of home heat is escaping through the roof of an uninsulated home. At current prices you will save £255 a year in energy bills so in just two years you will have your money back. With prices going up again in October these savings will increase. If you have loft insulation already, top it up to 30cm depth. Cavity wall insulation also saves money over the year.

Read the manual. Learn how to use your heating system. We can’t all afford a new air or ground source heat pump, so learning to work your existing one efficiently is crucial.

Switch off stand-by mode. Loads of electricity is wasted keeping appliances like TV and Xboxes on when no one is using them.

Downplay the drafts. Is heat escaping up your chimney if you have an open fireplace? You can buy cheap chimney balloons that block the space.

Work with your windows. Loads of heat is lost through windows. If you don’t have double glazing and can’t afford to install it, buy specialist film from a hardware store and cover your glass. You’ll still be able to see out.

Line your curtains or use black out blinds so they stop heat escaping. Make sure your draw them when it gets dark.

Draft exclude your doors. This can be done cheaply, foam edgings for doors and draft excluder brushes are readily available in DIY shops and easy to fit.

Use a smart thermostat set at 19C. Turning your thermostat down, even just by 1 degree, can save you £80 a year. Such thermostats can be controlled by app if you are not at home, so you can turn the heating on only when you need it.

Retro fit your rads: Fit foil at the back of radiators to deflect heat back into a room rather than heating a wall.

Washing machines: Choose an energy efficient model if you are buying a new machine. Or use the eco mode, if you have one, on your existing washing machine. Make sure you have a full load before putting on a wash – two half-loads will use more energy than a single full load. But be careful not to overload. A too-full drum could compromise your machine’s washing ability and result in you having to run another cycle.

Think about how often you need to wash your clothes. Do you really need to chuck everything in after one wear?

Forgo the tumble dryer, if you can. Of course, not everyone has space to line-dry clothes. But if you can you’ll be making a massive dent in your energy bill. Tumble dryers generally use expensive electricity to generate their heat.

Dishwashers: Again make sure you have a full load. This will make the most of the energy, water and detergent used. Avoid using the half-load setting. While this type of programme will use less water and energy than a normal cycle, the savings don’t equate to half. And while most modern dishwashers are designed to clean even really dirty dishes, many machines will come with a rinse-hold setting ‘just in case’. This feature uses as much as 25 more litres of hot water for each use, so consider the tried-and-tested sink pre-rinse instead.

Use rechargeable batteries Duracell claims its AAA Recharge Plus batteries can be used as many as 400 times, for example. At the equivalent of around £2.50 per battery, that works out at less than a penny per use! There are some cheap disposable batteries on the market, but none that cost that little.

De-scale the kettle. A good clean inside and out will mean the energy you use to boil the water isn’t being wasted on heating lime scale instead. The same applies it your central heating system. Ask your plumber to look into this during your annual boiler check.

Only boil the water you need. Don’t waste energy each time you make a cuppa. Three quarters of Brits admit to overfilling their kettle.

Defrost the freezer. If you have a build-up of frost air can’t circulate, so the freezer has to work harder and therefore uses far more energy to keep at a certain temperature.

Cooking carefully Keep your oven clean. If it’s caked in grease, it won’t be running efficiently. This is particularly true of gas burners. Make sure your gas burners produce blue flames – yellow indicated the gas is burning inefficiently. Make sure any pots or pans you use are the appropriate size for the hob you put them on.

Use the right-sized hob: If you put a small pan on a large element, you’re simply wasting heat. If you use gas hobs, make sure the flame is contained beneath the pan – any flame licking around the sides is just wasted heat and energy.

Use residual heat. If you’re roasting veggies or baking biscuits, turn off the oven a few minutes before they’re done or before the recipe indicates. As long as you don’t open the over door and let all the heat out (which you should try to avoid doing at any point anyway), the oven will remain hot enough to finish off the cooking.

Use the right appliances Your oven may well be your go-to for cooking and reheating, but the chances are you have other appliances that can do the job just as well with less energy. Microwaves are a lot more energy efficient than ovens when it comes to reheating small portions of food, so they’re a handy way to warm leftovers and steam veggies or even cook jacket potatoes. Slow cookers are also an efficient way to cook hearty meals. They use just a little more energy than a traditional lightbulb and produce the most delicious flavours.

And the right dishware: Use glass or ceramic dishes in the oven. They retain heat a lot better than metal dishes do, making them more efficient. You might find that items cook faster or will cook just as well at a lower heat. If you’re using an electric hob, choose flat-bottomed pans so the pan is in full contact with the ring and heat spreads throughout it as evenly as possible.

Let leftovers cool down: Allow leftovers to sit at room temperature for about half an hour before you put them in the fridge or freezer. When warm items are placed in the fridge or freezer, they increase energy usage – as they raise the temperature of other items, so your fridge must work harder to cool it all back down.

There are many other ways to reduce the costs of heating your home whilst still having warm and cosy rooms. To read more visit One Home’s guide to insulation including costs, savings and pay back periods.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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