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10 Tips for Reducing Electricity Costs Without Large Investments

The following tips can help you save tens to hundreds of euros a year on your electricity bills with little or no investment.

Andrej Šimo | Personal finance | 6. October 2022

The first 5 tips can be applied by any household, the last 5 apply to specific groups. The potential savings are calculated using 2022 prices, with the savings effect likely to increase further as prices rise in the future. The figures for electricity consumption are stated in kWh (billing invoices also state your consumption in this unit).

Tariff names and rates presumed by this article apply in Slovakia, for more precise calculations of potential savings in other CEE countries, please refer to the localized articles in other language versions of our Blog subpage. The saving tips described, however, apply in all countries.

1. Check if you are on the right tariff and set the appropriate amount of advance payments (savings of 0 – 100 euros per year)

The average household consumes around 2,500 kWh of electricity per year, which usually makes the DD2 tariff suitable. However, if you live in an apartment and do not use electricity for heating or hot water, your consumption is likely significantly lower. It would then be more financially advantageous for you to be on a lower consumption tariff (DD1).

If you are currently on a DD2 tariff and using the following tips or modernizing your appliances reduces your consumption below roughly 1650 kWh per year, it will be worth switching to a DD1 tariff.

Also, remember that with a high prepayment setting, you might have a lower chance of finding yourself in arrears, but the supplier handles these funds instead of you. With the current high inflation, arrears a year later are worth less than the high prepayments paid today, making such 'saving' a disadvantageous 'financial product'.

For more information, consult suppliers' websites or enquire at their customer service centers.

2. Reduce refrigerator consumption without replacing it (savings of 10 - 40 euros per year)

The fridge-freezer is likely to be the most energy-intensive appliance in your home. If you own an older model (10 years old or more), its annual consumption can be up to 600 kWh per year. Hence, consider replacing it. But there are ways to reduce your fridge consumption without a large investment:

  • increase the cooling temperature by a few degrees (setting it to 5°C instead of 3°C can save 10-15% of energy),
  • secure a clear and clean ventilation space around the fridge, place it out of sunlight and in a cool place within the home (e.g., against the outside wall of the building, ground floor for multi-story buildings),
  • check the door seal, repair/replace if damaged,
  • remove frost regularly,
  • fill the fridge to 2/3 of its capacity and ensure sufficient space between food in the fridge,
  • do not put hot food in the fridge, contrarily, defrosting food in the fridge is welcome.

These measures can save you approximately 50 - 200 kWh on the fridge operation, depending on the specific model.

3. Fill the washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher, and oven properly and use the ECO mode (savings of tens of euros per year)

In terms of electricity consumption, these large appliances rank right after the refrigerator. Their common trait is that their consumption is stated as consumption per cycle, which instantly suggests a recipe for reducing their consumption: reduce the number of cycles. You can do this by filling them more efficiently, within technical limits, of course.

Modern models offer the option of reduced consumption per cycle – the ECO mode (for ovens, this is hot-air fan baking), which works at lower temperatures. By combining the reduced number of cycles and the ECO mode, you can save tens of euros per year (saving 50-150 kWh per appliance).

Tumble dryers have the highest consumption within the group, followed by dishwashers, ovens, and washing machines. Carefully consider the necessity of each use of a dryer and dishwasher.

Note that using a dishwasher should still be more economical than washing by hand, as a dishwasher heats water faster than, for instance, a boiler. However, it also largely depends on how you wash, whether under running water or in a soaked sink or container.

4. Heat water and food efficiently (savings of 5 - 30 euros per year)

If you use the kettle frequently, heat only the necessary volume of water. Negligence can lead to regularly boiling unnecessarily large volumes. Smaller kettles or those with clearly visible volume markings can help.

If you cook on a gas stove and heat the needed water in a kettle to speed up cooking, remember that gas is a quarter the price of electricity, making gas heating cheaper despite the higher energy efficiency of your kettle.

If you use a ceramic or induction hob, again consider the appropriate volume of water, cook under a lid and in a pressure cooker. Prioritize a microwave to other methods when reheating food. Potential annual savings are between 5 – 30 euros (25 – 150 kWh).

5. Switch off or unplug appliances that are in standby mode (savings of 10 - 50 euros per year)

An old recommendation you must have heard many times before, yet not always easy to put into practice. Some appliances have the option to switch off stand-by mode in the settings, while others make it more complicated, leaving you with mechanical unplugging, which requires more discipline.

Fortunately, smart plugs with timer settings or remote control come to the rescue.

Although the consumption of individual appliances in stand-by (off) mode may not be high (around 1 W), the number of such appliances in households is increasing, and their operation can cost you a total of 10 – 50 euros per year (consumption of tens to 200 – 300 kWh per year). You can save a lot even by switching off your Wifi router and modem at night, for example.

6. Make the most of your smart TV (savings of 50 - 70 euros per year)

If your household has invested in buying a smart TV that grants you the option of connecting to internet TV, utilize the full potential of this combination. Disconnect from set-top boxes and satellite receivers that consume high amounts of energy.

Not only will you save 20 – 40 euros per year on electricity consumption (saving 100 – 200 kWh), but you will also no longer have to pay for rent/purchase of these devices = saving another approximately 30 euros per year.

You can further enhance the savings by turning on adaptive brightness (according to the light intensity in the room, the TV itself will adjust the optimal brightness), or by reducing it by at least 10-20%.

7. Use a mobile/tablet/laptop instead of a PC and get rid of the landline (savings of 5-10 euros per year)

The energy consumption of using a smartphone is only a fraction of what you consume by doing the same activity on a PC. Try to follow the following hierarchy: smartphone - tablet - laptop – PC, only switching on the more energy-intensive device when it is essential for you

If you still have a landline, cancel it. In total, you can save 5 – 10 euros per year (a few tens to 100 kWh) + a few euros per month for using the landline.

8. Use air conditioning wisely (savings of tens of euros per year)

The energy consumption of room air conditioning can reach many hundreds of kWh per year, but by following several principles, you can reduce it significantly:

  • first of all, try to cool the room naturally – air your home out only when the outside temperature is lower than the room temperature,
  • try to reduce the impact of direct sunlight on the room (external or internal shading, if possible and acceptable – plant deciduous trees in front of the house),
  • reduce the energy consumption of electrical appliances in the room (by following this advice or by upgrading appliances) – as electricity is converted into heat (either intentionally or as a by-product) when they are used.

Next, consider how you want to use the air conditioning: whether your goal is a constant temperature throughout the day or whether you can tolerate natural temperature fluctuations.

If you opt for the former, your home will be a cold island during heatwaves, with vast amounts of heat constantly trying to get in, making your daily energy consumption insanely high.

If you choose the second option, I have a useful tip for you – turn on the air conditioner at the time you finish airing your home in the morning/evening and let it run for an hour or two, not turning it on for the rest of the day (or turn it on one more time before you go to bed).

Repeat this process during each hot day, and you will find that you can still secure several hours of comfortable temperature compared to no air conditioning, and even the maximum room temperature won't be as high. But your energy consumption (and the strain on your body) will be significantly lower than with the first option.

9. Reduce energy consumption for utility water heating (savings of tens of euros per year)

If your household is equipped with an electric boiler to heat water, your electricity consumption and bills are likely to be higher than those of an average household, and you may be using tariffs that offer different rates in on- and off-peak times.

However, even in this case, it may be worth switching to a different tariff (DD1 or DD2). Aside from that, let's look at ways to reduce boiler consumption:

  • first of all, pay attention to the water consumption itself – make sure you don't waste it, consumption can be reduced by installing low-flow shower heads or water-saving taps,
  • next, consider setting a lower temperature for heating the water (around 50 degrees, or even a little lower).

10. Reduce heating energy consumption (savings in hundreds of euros per year)

The last tip for reducing electricity consumption can potentially be the most important one for households that use electricity for heating. However, unlike the previous advice, I recommend contacting a qualified expert due to the complexity of this point. Nonetheless, some of the saving tricks can be done even without such consultation:

  • Whether you feel warm or cold in a room depends on the perceived temperature, which you can raise by wearing warm clothes and increasing the humidity in the room. This way, you can feel comfortable even after lowering the heating temperature by a few degrees.
  • Reduce heat loss by ventilating effectively (briefly, intensively, and, if possible, around midday, when the temperature is higher) and check all seals (windows, doors, and other openings), repairing them as necessary.
  • Lower the heating temperature at night, when you are away, and in infrequently used rooms. A lower bedroom temperature is beneficial for healthy sleep.
  • If you use radiators, ensure they are regularly bled and clear the space around them. Place a thermal insulation film behind a radiator located on the outside wall of the flat/house. Place a fan (designated for this purpose) under the radiator for better circulation of warm air.
  • If you use infrared radiators to heat a particular (cool) place in the home, only turn it on when you are near the radiator and also lower the centrally set heating temperature.

I believe these 10 tips will help you reduce your electricity consumption, saving hundreds of euros a year, which you can use to secure your future or maintain other expenses you consider essential with the current price rises.

Did you save? Great!

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