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Five Small Energy Changes That Bring Big Results

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 3 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Energy Savings Cost Water Heat

We all want to save energy; of course we do. What sort of a fool would go out of their way to spend more on their gas or electric bills than they had to? The trouble is that a lot of the things that are supposed to help the most, tend to be rather expensive to implement in the first place and often have a fairly slow pay-back period too. For many of us, it’s the sort of economic ‘double whammy’ that we simply can’t afford.

However, you really don’t have to spend a fortune to start seeing a difference, and to prove it here are five small changes which can soon fast-track you on the road to some real energy savings. Best of all, they’re all easy to do, cost little or nothing – and you can begin using them straight away.

1. Pots and Kettles

Everyone’s heard the one about only boiling as much water in your kettle as you need – but do you do it? If you don’t, now’s a great time to start and here’s an extra tip to make it even more effective. Once you’ve made your cuppa, your kettle will be empty – but still hot. Refill it now, and let the residual heat – remember, you’ve already paid for it – warm the water up a bit for your next coffee ahead of time, rather than waiting and boiling really cold water straight out of the tap.

Cover your pots and pans when you’re cooking and you’ll avoid a lot of the heat loss – as well as the clouds of steam. Then if you switch the ring off a few minutes before everything’s cooked, allowing the residual heat to finish the job off for free, you’ll make even more of a saving.

2. Cooking Differently

Staying in the kitchen, how much use do you make of your microwave and do you have a slow cooker? For many meals, using a microwave saves a significant amount of energy – and money – compared with conventional cooking and while it isn’t suitable for every kind of meal you’ll ever want to make, using it when it’s appropriate is a step in the right direction.

Slow cookers and crock-pots are another way of trying low energy cooking, particularly for recipes such as soups, stews and casseroles where all the ingredients simmer away together. The latest generation of slow cookers come with insulated lids and high efficiency elements, making them even cheaper to run. Couple this with their ability to turn cheaper cuts of meat into wonderfully tasty meals and you’ve got to be onto a winner here!

3. Turn It Down!

Turning down thermostats has just got to be the simplest and cheapest way to save energy in the universe. Set your central heating down by just one degree and you’ll soon notice a difference – saving up to 10 per cent of the energy you use for heating, which could make you up to £55 a year better off according to Energy Saving Trust figures.

While you’re at it, make sure the thermostat on your water cylinder is no higher than 60ºC – but don’t go any lower, or you risk providing a home for the sort of bugs that cause Legionnaires Disease!

4. Turn It Up!

On the other hand, running fridges and freezers with their thermostats set too low can lead to you wasting energy just as unnecessarily, so turn them up and start saving. Obviously you need to ensure that food is still being kept properly chilled or frozen, but that doesn’t mean that you have to have them set so far below zero that you’re providing the sort of Arctic conditions that would make a Polar Bear feel instantly at home.

5. And Turn It Off!

The final one of the five is another well known tip, but it’s still something that lots of people simply don’t do – and that’s stop using ‘stand-by’. The Energy Saving Trust reckon that about 10 per cent of the electricity used in an average British home goes to keeping our various appliances slumbering away in sleep mode – and that can be as much as £65 per household.

Taken overall, the figures for the whole of the country are staggering. Even before we’ve watched a single programme, British TVs gobble up an astounding £116 million worth of electricity annually and according to estimates, our sleeping video recorders and DVD players use twice that figure!

Say ‘bye-bye’ to that red-eye and you can start saving today.

You don’t have to replace all your appliances, rip out your boiler or install the latest all-singing, all-dancing micro-generation technologies to start making a few energy savings. Some of the smallest and simplest changes to the way you use energy can bring some of the biggest results and when it comes to being energy efficient and cost effective, these tips are really hard to beat!

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