Energy saving ideas: savvy strategies for your home

energy saving ideas with soft furnishings

While I’m watching the cost of living rise at an alarming rate, I’m also trying to enjoy autumn. It’s such a lovely time of the year and I look forward to its glorious colours, seasonal dishes, crisp morning walks and cosy evenings in front of the TV. But this year, thanks to the UK’s cost-of-living crisis, it all feels rather different. Like millions of other households, I’m worried about rising prices, as interest rates increase and inflation continues to soar. With energy prices also at an all-time high, it’s clear that certain changes have to be made. So, I’ve been exploring a range of different energy saving ideas, which will help to ease some of those hefty bills, which are coming whether we like it or not. Here are some of my top tips to drive down your outgoings, by reducing your energy expenditure:

Think small to win big

Kitchen living area

I must say it’s not all bad news. In fact, small changes can make a big difference to your energy bills. So think hard about how to use less. Now, there are lots of easy, obvious wins. Switch off standby mode. Unplug unnecessary devices. Turn off any lights you’re not using. However, these simple energy saving ideas can quickly add up to big savings. According to the Energy Saving Trust, households can save around £65 a year just by turning appliances off standby! Switching off lights when you leave a room saves around £25 a year. And if you swap any old-school incandescent/halogen bulbs to energy-efficient LED versions, you can boost those savings further.

Only use what you need

Energy saving ideas with kettles
Fully load major appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, but only boil what you need in your kettle when you’re making tea or coffee

Even being careful with your kettle can save you money. Now, this might sound trivial, but be sure to use only as much water as you need. Overfilling uses unnecessary energy and costs you more. Heating a full kettle of around 1.7 litres currently works out at around 6.8p every boil. So, if you’re a tea fiend like me, over the course of a year, that really adds up! Make sure to descale your kettle regularly, too. If it’s full of limescale, it will use more energy to boil.

Keep your cool

When it comes to effective energy saving ideas, I think it’s best to reassess how we use all of our appliances – not just our kettles. So why not start by being energy efficient with your fridge-freezer? Try to keep them at least three-quarters full – but don’t be tempted to overfill. If they’re too full, the air won’t be able to circulate, which means your appliance will use more energy to keep cold. And don’t leave your fridge-freezer doors open for longer than necessary. Another tip is not to put warm food inside, as this will make your appliance have to work harder. Conversely, defrosting frozen food in your fridge reduces the amount of electricity it needs to keep cool.

Full loads & lower temperatures

laundry room with a washing machine
Taking action now to reduce energy use could save you significant amounts of money over the winter months ahead

How often do you use your washing machine and dishwasher? In fact, these are two of the worst offenders regarding energy consumption. However, you can counter this by washing at lower temperatures, acquaint yourself with the eco mode button and only ever wash a full load. If, like me, you hate washing dishes by hand, the good news is your dishwasher is generally more energy-efficient if you use it properly. Again, only run it when it’s fully loaded, and always choose the eco-cycle. If you’re on a ‘time of use’ energy tariff, such as Economy 10, only run these appliances when your electricity is cheaper to use.

Shower swiftly

Which brings me neatly to the delicate subject of how we wash ourselves. I’m afraid nothing is off-limits if you’re serious about energy saving ideas! My best advice? Embrace speedy soaping and spend less time in the shower. Keeping your shower time to just four minutes could save a typical household £95 a year on their energy bills. Do you adore long soaks in the tub? I’m a big fan when the weather turns colder. But swapping just one bath a week for a four-minute shower will also reduce your annual energy expenditure.

No time to dry

energy saving ideas with a dehumidifier
A dehumidifier can also help to increase energy efficiency in your home. It will balance moisture levels and improve air quality which enables your heating system to run more efficiently

I know that tumble dryers are a godsend when you have laundry to dry and the weather’s cold and wet. But, if you’re serious about saving energy, it’s time to explore other drying alternatives. I’ve just invested in a dehumidifier for my home and I have to say it’s absolutely brilliant! These work by consuming moisture-laden air in a room. In simple terms, they absorb the moisture in the air from your wet clothes, and emit warm, dryer air instead. Now dehumidifiers don’t dry clothes as quickly as a tumble dryer. However, the flip-side is they are much more energy-efficient – and therefore considerably more cost-effective – to run. So, as far as I’m concerned, they’re a no-brainer!

Heat retention strategies

I think the best energy saving ideas should also explore effective heat retention strategies. So insulating your water tank, pipes and radiators really is key. Once again, even little fixes can add up to significant savings. For example, an insulating jacket (from £16 to buy) for your hot water cylinder could save you around £70 a year in heating costs. Importantly, it will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions, too.

Energy saving ideas with radiators
Invest in insulation, get your boiler serviced, and give your radiators some well-deserved TLC

Don’t forget to give your radiators some TLC. Consider installing reflector panels behind radiators on external walls. I’ve decided to buy new thermostats for my older radiators, to improve my rooms’ temperature control. This is because some of them were already broken when the husband and I moved in. However, now seems the perfect time to replace these for fully-functional ones so we can fully control how we heat each room.

Draught-proofing windows and doors can also help to reduce home heat loss. DIY secondary glazing – installing another layer of material (acrylic or polycarbonate) to create an “extra” internal window – is another fast, cost-effective way to keep your heat in, and the cold out.

Keeping things cosy

One of the best energy saving ideas is to heat yourself, not your surroundings. It sounds so obvious, but don’t waste money heating empty spaces, such as the spare room or weekday-only home office. Equally, be a bit more prudent with the rooms you do use regularly. Turning down your heating thermostat by just one degree could help you save up to £80 a year, according to Uswitch.

energy saving ideas with soft furnishings
The right soft furnishings, such as this rug, velvet sofa and cushions, help to keep my living area in my open-plan kitchen warm & cosy

This doesn’t have to mean resigning yourself to a cold, joyless home over the winter months. Make your rooms snug and stylish with cosy rugs, warm blankets, toasty throws and even lined, heat-retaining curtains. Choose soft, sumptuous fabrics for your soft furnishings – I’m a big fan of velvet – and deep, rich colours. Add a fluffy, fleece rug to cover tiled, hard wood or laminate flooring.

Energy saving ideas with thermal trousers
Dress appropriately. Swap your summer wardrobe for deliciously warm, woolly knits and thermals. I love my new Acai thermal casual stroll pants in deep navy, £99, which I’ll be wearing in my home too, this winter!

Finally, dress practically. Pack away those summer skimpies ASAP and layer up with practical knitwear instead. I’ll also be raiding my walking wardrobe for my thick socks and thermals. There’s really no substitute for comfy, cosy base layers like these when the temperature drops. I’ve also just treated myself to some stylish new thermal trousers, too!

If you want to jazz up your kitchen with the perfect accessories, read my guide here, which tells you which key accessories will lift your heart of the home. You can also see how I’ve successfully added these to my kitchen!