Reducing your energy consumption is increasingly important in today's world, both because it cuts down on household bills and because it reduces the carbon emissions generated by your home, benefiting the environment. Fortunately, there are a number of simple steps you can take to cut down on the amount of energy your home uses.
Electrical devices such as televisions, computers and games consoles don't just use up electricity when they're switched on. Whether on "standby" mode or simply plugged into the wall, they use a trickle of electricity. This amount isn't much, but over a long period it can really add up. According to DirectGov, the typical household wastes £30 a year in electricity for plugged-in appliances. It only takes a moment to switch them off at the wall, and those moments will add up to savings in the long term.
Choose energy-efficient items
The older home appliances are, the more likely they are to be inefficient in the way they use energy. When buying new household items, energy-conscious consumers should look for the EU Energy Label, which rates the device's energy efficiency. Devices rated A and above have excellent efficiency; G is the lowest category. The Energy Efficiency Recommended label marks the top 20% of efficient devices.
Replace your lightbulbs
Many people avoid using energy-saving lightbulbs because they cost more individually than normal bulbs. However, this is a false economy: because they last so much longer than normal bulbs and use less electricity, energy-saving lightbulbs are the key to long-term savings on electricity bills. The Energy Saving Trust estimates that an energy-efficient bulb can save a user £55 to £120 over its lifetime.
Improve your insulation
Heating is one of the major energy expenditures for British homes, especially during the chilly winter months. In poorly-insulated houses, a lot of that energy is wasted. Improving loft insulation and draught-proofing windows can save up to £175 or more a year in energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Use water wisely
Heating water is another major consumer of energy in the home. Controlling the amount of water heated can be very simple. For example, fixing dripping hot taps can save half a bathtub's worth of hot water in a week. Not running the washing machine for small loads and remembering to boil only the amount needed when making a cup of tea can both help to reduce water heating costs.
Explore alternative energy sources
For homeowners who don't mind a more ambitious project, there are ways to save energy with some simple modifications to the home. One of the most common is to install solar electricity generation panels or a solar water heating system. Solar water heating uses solar energy to heat water in a series of pipes, which is then transferred to a holding tank for household uses. Photovoltaic panels can provide electricity for the household and even earn money by taking advantage of the government's "Feed-in Tariffs" scheme.