Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How to Stay Warm without Breaking Your Bank this Winter

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Last month experts have forecasted a freezing November, possibly with snow. As the days get colder and darker, an increase of energy consumption at home is almost unavoidable. Just in our household we are already using more of the following:

Heating - even though our house is insulated and the roof is double insulated, it's been really cold lately

Hot Water - for hotter showers/ baths and washing the dishes, down to washing hands and face. We also consume more hot drinks and cook more hot food (oppose to the occasional cold salad during Summer)

Electricity - We need light in the room we are using even during the day, as natural light hardly comes through our window. The bathroom extractor fan is on for longer as a steamy shower is harder to clear on a cold day, even with the window open. We also have to start using our dryer for bedsheets and towels, and our heated clothes drying rack for the clothes before they start smelling damp.

Winter isn't officially here yet and our bills are already soaring. To tackle this, we had a look around the house and found the following we can do to balance our energy consumption a bit. I've also included things that we are already doing to save energy, which will hopefully help you as well:

Use Heating Thermostat to control the Boiler
- When we moved into our house, we have installed a portable heating thermostat that controls the room temperature the thermostat is located in, to make sure that we aren't overusing the boiler. The thermostat will only start up the boiler if the temperature in the room has dropped below a set temperature. During the day we keep it in our living room where we spend most of our time, and at night we bring it to our room. As our roof is double insulated, it is always warmer upstairs than downstairs. So when the thermostat is upstairs, it's freezing cold downstairs. However, since we are upstairs at night, it doesn't bother us, and without warming up the house unnecessarily, we have saved ourselves a good amount of energy that way.

Don't increase the room temperature, put on more clothes instead
- As the weather has changed pretty much instantly from a hot Summer to a cold Winter, we couldn't adapt soon enough to our way of living during Winter. Instead of putting more clothes on, we started up the heating when we are still walking around the house in short sleeves! Not only were we consuming unnecessary energy, the oxygen level was very low as well, making it uncomfortably warm in the living room. We have dropped the thermostat to a comfortable temperature now and put our cardies on to keep ourselves warm while we can breath more easily as well 

Close the doors to keep warm
- It's much harder to warm up a room, even with the thermostat, when the doors are open, allowing cold air from other rooms flowing in. By closing the doors (or leave them slightly ajar for airflow), you can prevent the warm air from leaking to areas that aren't in use, and you won't need to increase the temperature or put on thicker clothes just to stay warm

Drink your hot drink while it's still fresh
- Having spoken to a lot of people, I noticed that a lot of us don't really drink our hot drinks while it's still warm. We, especially us busy mums, always ended up multi-tasking somewhere else, and forgetting our brews. By the time we remembered that we needed a drink, it has already become cold, and we either have to make a fresh one (and go through the same cycle again), or heat it up in the microwave, both causing unnecessary energy consumption. If we can all make ourselves stop for a minute and sip our drinks while they are still warm, we can certainly save up some extra energy.

Unplug unused electronics, including chargers that aren't being used
- Apparently chargers consume electricity even though no gadgets are attached to them! We have unplugged all our chargers now, hopefully it will make a difference. It is also adviced to switch the TV and computers completely off instead of leaving them on sleep mode.

Use Energy Saving Lightbulbs
- We have been using these for years now, and we have also changed our spotlights bulbs to LED bulbs, which consume way less energy. Once you get used to it, there isn't really much difference, and you won't feel like you are being burned by the sun when you stand under one for too long

Carpet your floor if you have laminated floorboards
- Apart from keeping your feet warm, which is quite important as well as the cold air seeps through your feet to all over your body, making you feel cold, it's good to have a carpet on the floor to trap air in the room. As hot air rises and cold air falls, it helps circulating warm air in the room

Compare Energy Prices Online
- There are lots of price compare websites you can use to check which energy company is most suitable for you, and it really is worth checking as sometimes you'll notice that other companies also provide better service.

For example, E.ON has created an online tool on their website for their customers who register their account on the site to use. This will show them where their electricity and gas consumption goes, and they can even compare their consumption with other E.On customers in the neighbourhood using the tool - known as the Saving Energy Toolkit.

They also have lots of information about saving energy online, to help their customers to use no more energy than they need - which is exactly what their latest energy saving campaign is about.

Hopefully the above saving energy tips will also help you as much as me, and we'll all have a warm and cosy winter without the need to starve!

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by E.ON; all thoughts are honest and  my own