Autumn Statement: Jeremy Hunt outlines further energy support
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The internet is awash with tips to save energy and reduce bills and it’s getting increasingly difficult to decipher fact from fiction. But with bills expected to rise again in spring, navigating the difference will mean a lot more to households hit by rocketing prices. The more energy homes use, the more they will be charged, making energy reduction a priority for many.
Jack Ferguson, energy saving expert at Quotezone said: “When reviewing home energy usage, we recommend you ask yourself some simple questions. Firstly, do I really need to use it? Or is there a cheaper way? Remember – if it moves, lights up, or creates heat then it uses energy.”
Secondly, Mr Ferguson continued: “Is the energy-saving tip safe? Letting heat from the oven into the home could be dangerous if you have young kids and pets running around – always think safety first.
“Finally and quite crucially, can I make it a household habit? Experts will give you different answers on how long it takes to create a habit, but the more times you repeat a behaviour, the more likely it is to stick. So, make a list, share it with your household – even pop reminders on devices to help make those money-saving habits second nature.”
With households increasingly searching for more tips to save money and energy, here are six common energy-saving myths debunked to help people navigate the swaps and make changes that actually make a difference.
Myth: Washing clothes at lower temperatures does not clean them properly
According to Mr Ferguson, the myth that lower temperature washes don’t clean items as thoroughly is not true. He said: “Manufacturers of washing powers and liquids have designed them to work effectively at lower temperatures. Most of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water, so lower temperatures will save you money.”
He continued: “Some items like bedding or underwear may need a high-temperature wash, but for most items, you shouldn’t need those expensive programmes.”
Myth: Immersion heaters are expensive to run
How expensive an immersion heater is to run largely depends on a number of factors. Immersion heaters run off electricity, which is usually more expensive than gas – typically three times the price. Generally, running the heater during the day could be more expensive – but there are ways to keep costs lower.
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Mr Ferguson said: “While electricity is 100 percent efficient at heating, a modern gas boiler should be at least 90 percent – so despite being a little less efficient, it is usually cheaper to use gas or oil to heat your water.”
However, he continued: “If you have off-peak electricity, such as Economy 7, which gives you cheap night-time rates, then it can work out cheaper to use the immersion to heat the water – but only if you have a timer to control it and use the water before it cools down. Most homes in the UK have a gas combi boiler, so this will not apply to them as they will not have a hot water cylinder.”
Myth: Putting the thermostat on high in short bursts could lower costs
Another common tip to reduce bills is to turn the thermostat to high in short bursts. The intention is to heat the room up quickly and avoid leaving the heating on for longer time periods.
However, Jess Steele, heating technology expert at BestHeating said: “It doesn’t help to turn the thermostat up high to try and heat a room quicker as this only makes the room warmer at the same speed. By the time you turn it off this will only cost money without reward as it will not make a house feel warmer at all and raise bills.
“Instead, set a timer for the most common periods you need a warm house such as just before you wake up and when you are relaxing in the evening, but turn this off if the weather is a little warmer than usual during the cold spell.”
Myth: Tinfoil behind the radiators saves money
Ordinary tinfoil is made from very thin rolled aluminium which becomes dull as it oxidises, which can quickly reduce its effectiveness. Mr Ferguson said: “Radiators only give off around 20 percent radiant heat, the other 80 percent is actually convection heat which will not be reflected anyway.”
He continued: “There are a variety of specialist reflective radiator panels on the market which are good for older homes, however, if you already have cavity wall insulation then it’s less likely you will make any significant savings with these.”
Myth: It’s cheaper to use small electric heaters
For people who need a fast boost of heat in a room, a small heater might be useful – but it’s important to be wary. Some of these use a lot of electricity and costs can rack up.
Mr Ferguson said: “A typical electric fan heater is rated at 2kW – that means it uses two units every hour – and with the current price cap that equates to 68p every hour, running it when working at home could cost you £27.20 for a 40-hour week.”
Myth: Grants are only for people who receive benefits
It is a common misconception that people can only get assistance with energy-saving measures if they receive certain benefits. However, there are a number of different initiatives available to help people save money; from new heating systems and insulation to small aids such as water widgets or shower timers.
Mr Ferguson said: “Many of [these measures] are available to everyone, so why not have a quick search and see what you can get help with. Remember, the cheapest unit of energy is the one you do not need.”
Several energy providers are offering support and running initiatives to encourage households to use less energy. The National Grid ESO’s newly launched Demand Flexibility Service, available to eligible customers of certain providers, such as Octopus and E.ON Next, are offering the opportunity to save up to £100 in savings for reducing energy usage during peak times. For more information on tips, tricks, and additional means of support, click here.
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