Hands up if the energy crisis has you stressing out about your electricity and gas bills. Here’s my guide on how to save money on electricity bills in winter.
I live in a new build flat which is surprisingly energy inefficient. The bills aren’t too bad during the summer, but during autumn and winter it’s a nightmare to keep it warm without racking up huge costs. I blame the electric heaters and curse the day I bought a flat with no gas rather than a house with central heating!
To make things even worse, the energy market is in crisis right now. A number of energy companies have already gone bust thanks to rising wholesale energy costs and the rest have had to drastically increased the amount they charge customers in an attempt to stay afloat. This means my already expensive bills are about to become extortionate.
To try and reduce the damage to my bank account, here are a few energy saving tricks I’ve adopted over the years. I’ll be taking them even more seriously this winter.
Pick one room to heat and stay there
Whenever I’m home alone during winter, I try to heat either the bedroom or the living room/kitchen and that’s it.
If I have a lot of work to do and I don’t want to spend all day in bed, I’ll pick the living room.
My bedroom is cold when it’s time to go to bed, but I’ve got extra duvets, plenty of blankets and two hot water bottles, so it doesn’t take long for me to feel cosy.
If I’m happy to curl up under my duvet all day, I’ll turn the electric heater on for a couple of hours and shut the door and window to keep the heat in.
This tip won’t be practical for some people. If there are several people in your home or you can’t get by spending most of the day in one room, skip to the next tip. But for couples or those who live alone, it might be doable!
Heat people not rooms
If you’ve mastered the art of heating individual rooms rather than your entire home, you could take things a step further…
I recently read an article about why we should heat people not rooms and it’s been an absolute game changer for me.
Why am I spending money heating whole rooms in my flat when I could just heat myself for a fraction of the cost.
Not to sound like an old lady but in the olden days, heating rooms was largely unheard of and people would focus on keeping themselves warm instead – sometimes creating little pockets of warmth in parts of their home instead.
Turn the heating on before you need it and turn it off before you don’t need it
If you get up at 8 each morning, you could set a timer for your heaters to come on at 6. That way, the room will already have warmed up a little by the time you need it. If you’re planning on going out for a few hours, turn the heating off a couple of hours before you leave. There’s no point heating the house just for the spiders.
You might be thinking: “But Jenni, what if I get up at 7 and leave for work at 8.” Maybe you could set the heating to be on from 5am until 6am or 7am?
Potentially controversial but I probably wouldn’t bother turning my electric heaters on at all in the morning in this case.
Instead, I’d get a shower as soon as I got out of bed. I’d dry myself off and get dressed straight away without leaving the bathroom. The steam from a hot shower should make the bathroom warmer than the rest of the house.
If I’m at home during the evenings, I’ll usually try and turn the heating off a good few hours before bed.
I don’t see the point in having the living room heater blaring at 8pm if I’m gonna be watching tucked up in bed at 10pm.
I know this sounds like a lot of hassle but you’re here because you’re looking for ways to cut costs.
You can always disregard what I’m saying if it sounds like too much effort.
Dry your clothes on the line
I think it’s been two years since I last used my dryer.
To save money, I let my clothes dry naturally instead. I try to dry them outside as much as possible. Not only does line drying save money, it’s also better for the environment and makes makes your clothes smell fresher. It might also save you time on ironing because your clothes should have fewer creases when they’ve dried on the line.
Believe it or not, it’s even possible to dry your clothes outside during winter with a bit of forward planning.
Since I live in England where it rains 156.2 days a year on average, drying clothes outside isn’t always practical.
The next best thing is drying them on indoor clothes racks, but make sure to properly ventilate your home so you reduce the chances of mould.
Be tactical when it comes to laundry
If you’re drying your clothes indoors, figure out what laundry schedule works out for you. For example, I try to wash my clothes when I know I’ll be home quite a bit. That way, I can keep warm and get them dry at the same time. If I’m going to heat the house for me, I may as well get my clothes dry too!
Alternatively, if having your home filled with drying racks stresses you out, you may prefer to dry your clothes when you’re not around.
To reduce the likelihood of mould, you could take a completely different approach and dry your clothes in a room you don’t use very often and keep the window open.
If I have guests coming round, I’ll shove my clothes racks in the bathroom, open the window wide, close the door and encourage everyone to use my en-suite instead. Even though the bathroom will be freezing, the air through the window will help to speed up the drying process while also removing excess moisture from the air.
Remember to open your windows for a little bit each day
It’s important that you open your windows for a little bit each day, even if you’re struggling to keep the place warm on a budget. Without fresh air, your home can quickly become mouldy – especially if you’ve been drying clothes indoors.
If you’re comfortable doing so, you could leave your windows open while you pop to the corner shop. This will help to let the air circulate without forcing you to endure the cold. When you get home, shut the windows and whack the heating on. If your windows have a latch option, this can help you get a bit of fresh air in while still keeping the windows secure and protecting your home from burglars!
Make the most of the heat created by cooking
As anyone who’s ever worked in a restaurant will agree, kitchens can be extremely hot places. While your own kitchen might not have as many stoves as your favourite Italian, it can still be a huge source of heat.
Keep this in mind when cooking and use it to your advantage.
I have an open plan kitchen and living room, meaning the living room gets pretty toasty when someone is cooking. For this reason I try to avoid having the heating on when myself or my boyfriend is cooking.
If you have a table and chairs in your kitchen, it might be worth eating in there rather than in a separate room.
However, it’s important to be wary of condensation. If your kitchen gets steamy and damp while cooking and you don’t have an extractor fan, you might need to open the windows – releasing all that lovely warmth and making the room cold again.
To save energy, try to turn the oven or hobs off before your meal is finished. Both appliances will stay hot for a while even once they’re turned off, so you may as well use this heat to finish your meal.
Once you’ve finished using the oven, leave the door open so you can release any leftover heat into your kitchen.
Switch energy suppliers
Switching energy suppliers can make a big difference to the amount you spend on electricity each month.
To learn more about switching, check out my guide on how to switch energy suppliers for a better deal.
However, at the time of writing this blog there aren’t many good deals available. This means switching energy providers isn’t as profitable as it used to be. Most people will struggle to get a better deal than they already have because everywhere is expensive right now. There’s little difference in annual energy costs from one provider to another.
Instead of switching, it may be worth waiting it out until there are better deals on the market. By focusing on keeping your energy usage as low as possible, you can save money on your bills.