We live in an increasingly smart world where gadgets can talk to each other and even talk to us, so electricity is essential to power these devices.
Appliances from dish washers to washing machines, home entertainment and lights all rely on affordable and available power at a flick of a switch. But how can we be smart about our electricity bills and save money on them?
How Much is the Average Electricity Bill in a UK Home?
As prices continue to increase the first question is what is normal amount to pay for electricity? The average electricity bill in the UK for 2017 was £619 a year. This was based on consuming 3,800kWh of electricity. However, these figures vary depending on the number and efficiency of electrical goods, how often they are left on and how you pay your bill.
A standard household will have 40 electrical appliances, watch television for five hours a day and boil the kettle over 1,500 times a year! When you think there are 25 million homes in the UK that is a lot of electricity to produce. Therefore, any measures that reduce electricity demand is good for the planet and for your purse. For example, an average household spends between £50 and £86 a year just because their appliances are on standby. This is over 10% of a household’s power demand and is a complete waste of energy and money.
The biggest energy guzzlers in the home are your freezer, fridge, tumble drier and lights, which is why being smart about which products you buy is essential to ensure it is as energy efficient as possible. Britain reaches peak electricity demand between 5pm and 8pm when most of us arrive home from work, start cooking and switch on the telly. In future we may be paid to not switch on devices during this time but for now extra power is generated to meet this demand.
How to Save Money on Your Electricity Bill?
With energy prices increasing every year and the number of gadgets we use increasing, it is a good idea to find ways to save money on electricity bills.
Switch Energy Supplier
The best way to save money on your energy bill is to switch to a cheaper gas and electricity supplier so you pay less for every unit consumed in your house. This switch takes about twenty minutes, costs you nothing and involves no paper work or engineer call outs. You simply need to:
- Go on the internet to find the best deal then
- Contact your cheaper and hopefully greener new supplier.
- Then provide them with your latest meter readings and payment details.
For example, a typical £270 saving is the equivalent of five crates of prosecco delivered to your house for free each year. And the good news is, the power could come purely from wind turbines and other clean sources of electricity. Interested yet?
Top Tips for Saving Power in the Home
The next step to saving power and therefore, money in the home is to reduce energy consumption as much as possible. Saving energy by reducing electricity consumption is possible by two main principles. First by switching off gadgets and lights when not needed and secondly, to upgrade to more energy efficiency lights and devices. Below are the top ten tips to save energy.
Top Ten Tips to Save Power
- When buying a new appliance or gadget always purchase the one with the highest energy rating possible. Like GCSE grades they keep changing the ratings but the one at the top of the chart is the best option which is dark green in colour and currently 'A' on the label.
- Turn off appliances and gadgets at the switch rather than leave them on standby. A standby saver allows you to turn off lots of your appliances in one go.
- Fill washing machines and dishwashers before running them and use the eco, energy saving option when available.
- Change lightbulbs to LEDS (save 70% energy compared to a traditional bulb). They light up instantly and give the same amount of light as old bulbs. And of course, switch them off when not in a room.
- Washing clothes at 30C uses 40% less electricity than 40C and 20C is even better.
- Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need.
- Dry your clothes outside or on a clothes horse whenever possible.
- Look at gadgets such as solar power chargers or solar powered radios to save money.
- Let warm food cool before putting in the fridge and keep the fridge temperature at 5C.
- If you have a choice, microwaves use considerably less energy than ovens for cooking food.
Good Gadgets for Energy Saving
As a general rule of thumb, older gadgets will use more energy. For example, a new laptop will use one-third of the energy of an old desk-top computer. All council recycling stations and most electronic stores offer recycling for old electronic components so upgrading a ten-year-old computer will in general, do more benefit than harm.
Plasma TVs guzzle up energy but thankfully there is an alternative. LED TVs are commonplace, so if you are planning to buy a new television then make sure it is an LED flat-screen television and not plasma. This will provide the best picture without costing you a fortune in electricity for viewing your favourite box sets. And the wider the screen the more electricity it will use so think if you really do need a cinema screen in your home or if it’s just a bit of a marketing gimmick?
If you are forever charging you phone, tablet or laptop, all screens have a power saving mode. This basically saves power by turning down the screen brightness (most gadgets have this option). As well as saving money and protecting the planet, this option will reduce the frequency of re-charging.
Do Smart Meters Make Smart Homes?
Most people have had or will soon be contacted by their energy supplier to have a smart meter fitted. The key advantage of smart meters is that they provide a cost-effective way for energy companies to bill you based on accurate meter readings rather than estimated bills. So, you are only paying for the actual energy you have used rather than an estimated amount that may be too high.
The other advantage is that smart meters are a way of tracking how much gas and electricity is consumed by your various home appliances at any given time. The in-home portable, energy display will show you the change in pence and kilowatt hours (kWh) as various appliances are turned on or off, so you can see the real difference that energy saving options can make.
Whilst smart meters don’t automatically mean cheaper energy bills, they do offer a useful guide to your energy use and patterns that can help you start to take cost cutting measures. Or as the saying goes ‘treasure what you measure’.
Get Smart with Lighting
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDS)
Lightbulb design has stayed virtually the same for over a hundred years. However, finally, tungsten (and halogen) lights are being phased out with new more efficient LED technology. LEDs uses a lot less power for the equivalent amount of light (measured in LUX).
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLS) were the first step in the journey to energy efficient smart lighting, However, LEDs are far superior so, if you are replacing old tungsten or halogen lights then avoid CFLS and use LED bulbs for better savings and better performance.
LED lights come in all shapes, colours and brightness with bulbs, strip lights, and down lights all now widely available. LEDs have developed considerably, lasting years (often with warranties for ten years or more) and are now suitable with dimming controls. LEDS are superior in terms of energy saving and durability and they don’t contain toxic gases that require careful waste management.
If you haven’t already, it is well worth replacing any old bulbs in your house and here are just a few guides to LEDS.
‘Smart lighting’ can be switched on using voice recognition or wireless technology on phones and other devices. Simply ask or touch the appropriate gadget and hey presto the ‘smart’ lights can come on or off at your command once fitted.
Green Power is the Ultimate Smart Energy
The best ways to reduce the environmental impact of electricity generation is to use less and produce renewable energy at home. By saving energy you are helping to save the planet as well as cutting down your energy bills. The less power we use, the fewer carbon dioxide emissions are produced from coal or gas-fired power stations in the UK, which is good news for slowing down climate change.
Renewable Energy at Home
Solar panels, like other clean energy gadgets, produce zero carbon dioxide and are powered by the sun. On-site renewable generation is not only clean energy but there are no losses along the distribution system. Solar panels on your roof provide green power and the opportunity to earn money from any surplus electricity. The money you receive is a mixture of a price for the electricity and an incentive from the Government. However, the Feed-in Tariff, which supports small-scale renewables is due to close to new applicants in March 2019 so from £4,000 it is possible to have your own solar power system. For more info visit 5 Amazing Benefits of Installing Solar Panels.
In addition, you can switch to a green energy supplier. This is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, support wind and solar projects and save money! The majority of people save over £250 when they switch supplier, so it is worth doing today.
Smart Homes: Saving Money and the Planet
Reducing electricity bills by using LEDs and buying 'A' appliances is a smart move. As is shopping around and switching electricity supplier. But the ultimate smart home is one that generates its own green electricity through solar panels or other renewable energy.
Has your smart meter made a difference in your home and what changes made the most difference to your bill?
Note: This article has been updated to reflect changes to the Energy Label scheme.
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