Cost of Living

Energy prices are high, it’s a nuisance.  They’re not going to come down.  But, if you want to reduce your gas & electricity bill, there is way.  I’ll show you how, after I’ve let off some steam.

The other day I was hearing some MP or other going on about how people have no control over their energy bills.  Any changes to prices mean people have to find the money to pay up, from another part of their budget.  Rubbish – we have direct control over our gas & electricity bills.  Who is switching on the lights or the telly?Climate Change Off Switch - reduced

That is not to say that there are no people who have the lights off most of the time and are wrapped up in duvets or jumpers all winter so they can afford to eat.  People in that situation need proactive help to insulate their homes and reduce their costs.

People who are not in such dire straits do have control.  It is very tempting to blame the energy companies or the government, and they probably do deserve a bit of a verbal kicking, but that doesn’t mean you are helpless.  I saved 30-40% on my gas and electricity bills just by changing my habits.

I’ve listed here a few things you could do.  It’s not comprehensive – I challenge everyone reading this to add their own idea as a comment at the bottom, so we build up a fantastic list of energy and money-saving ideas.

  • Put some foil behind your radiators.
  • Close the curtains, and tuck them onto the windowsill so the heat ends up on the inside.
  • Re-use drained water from pasta or rice to cook the veg or make the gravy.  It’s already hot.
  • Only boil as much water as you need in the kettle.
  • Use a lid on pots and pans so you can turn down the heat.
  • Switch the oven off before everything is cooked, to use up the latent heat.
  • Heat plates in the cooling oven or in the grill above the oven rather than heating them up separately.
  • Look at the timer on your boiler, and make sure it is only on when you need it, especially when you are away or in the summer.
  • If you have single-glazed windows and can’t afford to get them double-glazed, try double-glazing film, fixed to the window using a hairdryer.
  • Be aware of the heat escaping the house when you open a window or door, and shut them as soon as you can.
  • Put on a few layers and turn down the thermostat.
  • Decide what you want from the fridge before opening it, and shut the door straight away.
  • Switch suppliers to a small firm such as Good Energy or Ecotricity, where much less of the energy comes from fossil fuels (zero from Good Energy) and the prices are lower than the “Big Six” (guaranteed from Ecotricity and they froze their prices before the recent price increases).
  • Switch off your computer / telly / phone when not in use.
  • Fix dripping hot water taps.
  • Shower rather than bath.
  • Wait for the dishwasher to be full before switching it on.
  • Shut the interior doors.
  • Make sure the water temperature of the boiler to 60 deg C.
  • Use individual radiator heater controls if you have them.
  • Generally be aware of the energy you use.  Get into good habits.

If you have a little cash to spare, for example if you budgeted for the yearly energy bill and have some of that money available:

  • Get those low energy light-bulbs or LED bulbs.  They pay for themselves in no time, and you can get decent lights for any fitting these days.
  • Insulate your walls and loft.  This is worth it if you need to pay yourself, and you can often get a grant to help out.
  • With a bit more cash, replace an aging boiler or get double- or secondary-glazing fitted.
  • Get individual heating controls fitted so you can only heat the parts of the house you are using.

If you need some advice, get in touch with your local Transition Town, who are very likely to be able to help.  They may have or know of people trained to give advice.  They may have access to a thermal imaging camera to find out where you are leaking heat, or to a device to check how air tight your house is.

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke


2 thoughts on “Cost of Living

  1. John – I’m surprised to see you recommending that aging boilers should be replaced. All the heating engineers I know say exactly the opposite. Yes, modern boilers are more efficient in that they use less gas to run, but they are much less long-lived – and the total lifecycle cost (ownership plus usage) is higher.

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