Consumers are bombarded with energy saving advice that is often outdated, not specific to their households or won’t make much of a difference.
So how do you know what will make the greatest savings when it comes to reducing your energy consumption?
Chris Saunders, founder of LoopEnergySaver.com, busts the ten most common energy ‘myths’.
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1. Unplugging your phone chargers will save energy
Modern phone chargers only draw tiny amounts of energy when the phone is not plugged into them.
A 2012 study concluded that the average charger draws around 0.26W when idle which equates to less than 50p per year, so although every little helps, this isn’t going to be the big saver.
2. Leaving the heating on at a low level constantly uses less energy than heating up a cold building
This one is very simple: If you’re heating the building and no one is there, then you’re wasting energy. Only turn on the heating when you need it.
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3. Turning the thermostat up high warms the house quicker
If the house is really cold, then people turn up the thermostat in the hope that the room will heat up quicker.
Unfortunately, the house will heat up at the same rate regardless and then most people forget to turn the thermostat back down again, so that they end up using more energy than expected.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, for every degree higher that the thermostat is set, you spend around £90 extra per year, so this “myth” is a precariously expensive one.
4. I know how much energy I use
Chances are you aren’t fully aware of just how much energy your house is consuming and exactly how much it costs.
By using a monitor to track energy usage, homeowners can see precisely where they are spending on energy and once you can see this spend, you will notice where you are wasting energy and look to make savings.
Just by monitoring your usage you can expect to save between 8% and 9% on your bill.
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5. Computer screen savers save energy
Screen savers were designed to keep your monitor screen in good condition, not to save energy. Even if it is mostly black, it will still be consuming a fair amount of energy when the computer is running.
If you’re going to be away from your computer for any length of time, then shut down the system completely so that you’re not spending money unnecessarily.
6. Electric heaters save money
Heating your home with electric heaters instead of gas is far more expensive, as electricity typically costs three to four times more than gas.
If you have a big house, and you only want to heat one small room, then using an electric heater may save you some money. However, in almost all cases, it is better to have the central heating on and set the radiator valves appropriately for each room.
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7. If I’m heating my house with gas, surely I should use a stove-top kettle?
Only if you want to heat your kitchen at the same time!
Modern electric kettles are designed very efficiently, whereas stove-top kettles do not capture all of the heat from the stove so a lot of this energy will be used to heat the room as well.
In reality there is very little cost difference between boiling a kettle with gas or electric; while heating on gas is less efficient, it’s cheaper than electricity therefore the saving is minimal.
8. Incandescent or halogen lights are not inefficient since they also heat the room for me
This definitely isn’t true, particularly in summer when the heating is off and the windows are open to keep things cool.
In winter, it still isn’t true for most people as the cheapest way to heat your house is with a modern gas-powered central heating system that provides the heat where you need it.
In fact, LoopEnergySaver.com recommends replacing halogen with LED bulbs throughout your home if possible, as they are far more energy efficient and will last substantially longer than halogen; this change could save you up to £750 over a five-year period!
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9. Turning computers on and off regularly wears them out, costing more money in the long run
If anything, it’s the opposite – as the lifetime of computers is dependent on how often they are used. If you’re not using your computer, turn it off. You will extend the life of the appliance and save money at the same time.
10. I’ve recently switched energy supplier, so I’ve got the best deal
Energy tariffs have a shelf life and just because you switch to one of the best ones, it doesn’t mean it will remain the cheapest.
To get the best deal you need to switch tariff about every 12 to 18 months, which typically results in savings of £200-£300 a year.
Hopefully this has helped clear up some of those energy myths and given you a few practical tips on how to save energy and cut back on your bills this winter.
Get great ideas for saving money, plus information on your consumer rights, pensions, tax and much more in our Money section.