How to save energy at home

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Energy-saving tips that don’t cost a thing

Looking for free ways to save energy at home? You’re in the right place. Here are some energy saving things you can do right now to make your home more energy-efficient – without spending a penny.

How to cut your energy bills. 1: Turn your thermostat down by 1 degree

One of the simplest energy saving tips is turning your heating down a single degree. You might not think such a small amount would make a difference – but according to the Energy Saving Trust, going from 20C to 19C (for example) can cut your heating bill by 10%. For the average 3-bed house, that could be up to £145 every year.

2: Reduce your boiler flow temperature

Got a combi boiler? The default boiler flow temperature is normally set at 70 degrees. Reduce it to 55-60 degrees to save up to 6% on your energy use. Your boiler will work much more efficiently, and you won’t even notice the difference. Sound complicated? It really isn’t!

Heating efficiency. Heating your home efficiently

You may have heard that it’s cheaper to leave the heating on all day. That’s a myth. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the best way is to only have the heating on when you need it.

When you use your boiler timer and room thermostat along with radiator temperature controls (TRVs), you’ll have the most energy-efficient approach to heating your home.

3: Move your furniture away from radiators

Big items of furniture can stop the heat from a radiator reaching the rest of the room. Got a bed or sofa right next to a radiator? Move it at least an inch or two away. This will improve the air circulation and you’ll notice the room gets warm and cosy much faster.

4: Wash your clothes at a lower temperature to save energy

Most of us wash at 40C out of habit, but modern washing powders work well at temperatures as low as 20C. Why not try making 30C your standard wash? The lower the temperature, the more energy you’ll save. Although it’s probably best to wash bedding, towels and underwear at a higher temperature – at least 40C.

5: Keep the heat in by closing the curtains at night

Warmth starts to escape from your home when the sun goes down and temperatures start to drop. Closing all the curtains or blinds in your home is a simple but effective way of stopping heat loss – especially if you have older windows.

6: Switch off the lights

Little things can really add up to save energy at home over the long term. Leaving a light on in an empty room won’t cost you much, but always remembering to switch them off when you leave a room can help bring your annual electricity bill down.

7: Keep the oven closed while cooking

We all do it sometimes. But when you open the oven door, some of the heat escapes – and then your oven needs to use more energy to reach the right temperature again. Getting into the habit of using the oven’s window can help save money over time.

8: Use the microwave more to save electricity

They’re not great for everything, but you can’t argue with the energy-efficiency of a microwave. Cooking accounts for around 14% of electricity demand in UK homes, so using the microwave more is a simple way of saving energy in the kitchen. Air fryers and slow cookers also use far less energy than your hob or oven too.

9: Dry your clothes more efficiently

Tumble dryers are handy but energy hungry. So, dry your laundry outside when you can to save on energy bills. And if you dry on a radiator, hang clothes nearby rather than directly on the radiator. Wet clothes cool the radiator, which makes your boiler work harder to keep things cosy.

If you do need to use the tumble dryer, using the auto-dry setting is better than using a timed cycle.

10: Defrost your fridge and freezer

The fridge and freezer are some of the biggest energy users in your kitchen. And they’re also working 24 hours a day, unlike other appliances. Regularly defrosting them keeps ice under control and means everything can work efficiently.

11: Bleed your radiators

This sounds a bit technical, but it’s surprisingly simple and can make your heating system more efficient. If you have cold spots on your radiator, bleeding them can really help. Here’s our engineer to show you how.

12: Use eco mode whenever you can

Lots of household appliances have eco modes which are designed to use less energy – usually by running at different speeds or lower temperatures. Try using these as your standard option and you should see real savings over time.

13: Try to always wash a full load

Get in the habit of only using your dishwasher or washing machine when it’s full to save on electric. In fact, a full dishwasher can be more efficient with water and energy than washing by hand. So, there’s some good news!

14: Keep your appliances clean for efficiency

Clean the lint filter of your tumble dryer as often as possible. This will save energy by making sure it runs properly. Similarly, if you can access the back of your fridge, give the coils a quick hoover every now and then to keep it working efficiently.

15: Pick the right hob for the pot

Choose the ring that’s closest in size to the saucepan to minimise energy waste. And consider using a steamer to cook different things on the same ring. If you’re looking to replace your old hob, research induction hobs – they’re the most energy-efficient type on the market today.

16: Switch off preheat on your combi boiler

Got a combi boiler? The preheat option means you get hot water quicker. But that convenience does use extra energy. So if you want to get your bills down a bit, check your boiler’s manual for instructions on how to turn it off.

PeakSave – rewarding better energy use

If you have a smart meter, or get one installed, you can join our PeakSave scheme. PeakSavers can earn credits towards their bills by helping the grid to better balance demand for energy when it’s particularly low or high.

More about PeakSave

How to save on your gas and electricity bill. Energy-saving investments for your home

If you’ve got a bit of money to spend, you’ll be able to save even more energy and make a big difference to your energy bills. From inexpensive fixes to next-level investments, here are our favourites.

1: Get a smart thermostat for your home

Compared to old-fashioned thermostats, smart thermostats like this one from Hive make it easy to control your central heating, wherever you are. It’s also very easy to create heating schedules so you’ll never heat an empty home.

Typical cost: from £119 excluding installation

2: Fit radiator reflector panels

On exterior walls, reflector panels behind your radiators can help direct more heat back into the rooms, making them cosier. They’re relatively cheap and easy to install too. You can even get similar effect for less money by putting aluminium foil on the wall behind the radiator.

Typical cost: £2 to £10 per radiator

Want to see just how smart your home’s heating can be? Check out this explainer of the Hive Heating Plus subscription service: 

Hive Heating Plus

3: Replace your light bulbs to save on electric

Low-energy LED lightbulbs use 90% less energy than old-fashioned lightbulbs. They’re not very expensive and their long lifespans mean you might never need to replace them – especially in rooms that aren’t used often. And for maximum control, go for smart lights that make it easy to save energy at home by switching things off from your phone, wherever you are.

Typical cost: simple LED bulbs from £3 – smart bulbs from £20

4: Use ‘eco-balls’ in your tumble dryer

Put a few eco-balls in with your laundry and they’ll speed up the drying process by keeping things separated and helping the warm air to circulate better. The tumble dryer is expensive to run – and this is a simple way to make it a bit cheaper and save electric.

Typical cost: £5 to £10

5. Plug devices into a power strip to save on electric

Standby mode is less of an energy drain than it used to be, thanks to better energy-efficiency standards. But it can still add up to energy waste over time. So plug your different devices into a power strip and turn that off at the plug when you’re finished to save energy.

Typical cost: around £8

6: Draught-proof windows and doors

Draughts make your home lose heat more quickly. But it’s cheap and simple to draught-proof your home using materials from a DIY store. Read the Energy Saving Trust guide to draught-proofing in your home.

Typical cost: from £10

7: Use a chimney balloon or sheep

Have an unused chimney that lets in cold draughts? Go to a DIY store and ask about chimney balloons or chimney sheep. They’re cheap and easy to install – and should help to keep things draught-free during the winter.

Typical cost: from £12

8: Insulate your hot water cylinder

Most hot water cylinders will have some insulation to stop heat escaping. But upgrading that insulation is easy to do and doesn’t cost much. You can get a jacket from DIY stores that helps stop the heat escaping while it’s being stored.

Typical cost: £15

9: Fit thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)

If your radiators only have basic on-off valves, consider upgrading to TRVs to save on electric. The dials let you set a temperature for each radiator, which is handy for keeping some rooms at an energy-saving low temperature. And for even more control, get smart valves like these from Hive.

Typical cost: Standard TRVs from £20, smart TRVs from £50

Learn how smart radiator valves can help you save energy and take more control of your heating system:

Hive Radiator Valve

10: Buy an air fryer or slow cooker

Traditional ovens use a lot of energy, so air fryers and slow cookers can help you cook for a fraction of the price and save energy in the kitchen. In fact, with a slow cooker you can cook a meal for about the same cost as powering a lightbulb!

Typical cost: air fryer around £100 – slow cooker around £25

11: Get a CombiSave valve fitted

If you have a combi boiler, this simple valve can save you money in the long term. It works by slowing the flow of water until the right temperature is reached – meaning you waste less energy and water.

Typical cost: from £100, excluding installation

12: Powerflush your central heating 

Sludge, rust and limescale can build up inside your heating system – reducing its energy efficiency and even making boiler breakdowns more likely. A Powerflush thoroughly cleans your system and boosts efficiency by as much as 15%.

Typical cost: £500 to £800

13: Improve your home’s insulation

Did you know? Around 25% of the heat loss in your home happens through the roof and about 35% through the walls. That means investing in good-quality insulation can really pay off through lower energy bills in the long term.

Typical cost: depends on property size, but loft and cavity wall insulation from £1,000

14: Replace your boiler

Modern boilers are generally more energy-efficient than older models.  If your boiler is getting on a bit, take a look at how a new boiler could save you money every year. Add Hive to it, and you could be looking at a saving of up to £1,150 a year.

Typical cost: £1,700 to £3,500

15: Get double or triple glazing to save energy

Upgrading your windows can really improve the way your home keeps heat during cold weather. And if your current double glazing doesn’t seem to do the job anymore, it might be time to replace. The lifespan of double glazing is generally considered to be 20-35 years.

Typical cost: from £3,000 for a 3-bed house

16: Invest in an air source heat pump for long term energy savings at home

Air source heat pumps are an innovative new type of low-carbon heating. They use electricity to take warmth from the air – and use that to heat your home. It’s a big upfront investment, but the running costs are low in well-insulated homes. Find out more here.

Typical cost: £5,000 to £15,000 (including a £5,000 government grant). 

Saving energy around the home. How much energy do appliances use?

Today’s homes are full of gadgets. If you want to save on your energy bills, a good starting point is to understand exactly how much energy all these different appliances use.

Understanding your electricity bill: everyday appliances

We often use appliances around the home without really thinking about the energy they use. But could you make long-term savings by using the tumble dryer less often, perhaps? Or cooking dinner with an air fryer or microwave instead of the oven?  

Household appliances
Common appliances and running times: Approximate usage in units Approximate running cost [1]
Washing machine (40 degrees for an hour) 2 £0.59
Tumble dryer (an hour) 3 £0.89
Electric cooker/oven (30 minutes) 1.5 £0.45
Dishwasher (an hour) Up to 1.8 Up to 0.54
Kettle (5 minutes) 0.1 £0.03
Toaster (5 minutes) 0.1 £0.03
Electric shower (15 minutes) 2.5 £0.74
Electric hob (15 minutes) Up to 0.4 Up to £0.12
TV (an hour) 0.2 £0.06
Games console (an hour) 0.2 £0.06
PC/laptop (plugged in, one hour) 0.2 £0.06

Understanding your electricity bill: “always on” appliances

These are designed to be left switched on all the time, so there’s not much you can do to save on their energy costs. However, once they reach the end of their lifespan, it’s a good idea to compare energy ratings to make sure you buy an energy-efficient replacement.

Common appliances
Appliances commonly running 24 hours Approximate usage in units Approximate running cost [1]
Fridge freezer 2.5 £0.74
Wifi router 0.5 £0.15
Set top box (Sky/Virgin Media etc) 0.5 £0.15
Separate chest fridge/freezer Up to 1.5 Up to £0.45
Alexa 0.1 £0.03
Wifi booster 0.1 £0.03
Wine/drinks fridge 2.4 £0.71
Security camera Up to 0.4 Up to £0.12

How to do a simple energy check at home

If you’ve got a smart meter, your display unit will often have a handy ‘energy consumption now’ feature hidden in the options. This is a useful way of getting a live snapshot of how much electricity is being used at any one time.

You can switch off anything optional like TVs or ovens to see how much energy your “always-on” devices use. And then switching on different appliances one at a time will give you a good idea of which are biggest energy-guzzlers in your home.

Want to learn more about how to get the best out of your smart meter? Visit our guide to using your smart energy monitor

Additional information

  1. Based on the July 2023 price cap rates and customer with typical usage, paying by Direct Debit. Rates and standing charges are averages and will vary by region, payment method and meter type. Rates are effective from 1st July 2023.