10 Tips to Lower Your Electricity and Gas Bills
The rising costs of natural gas, electricity, and fuel can bite off an uncomfortably large chunk of a family budget. Right now is the time to adopt habits that will push your bills back down to affordable levels. Here are 10 tips that will save you energy costs not just today, but for all winters to come.
Households have begun feeling tangibly afflicted by a phenomenon we've feared for some time based on the news. Rising energy prices are inflating the figures on our heating and electricity bills. According to Reuters, the average amount that Eurozone residents pay for electricity and gas will increase by 54% compared with 2020.
Natural gas prices alone rose by 800% over 2021. Initially, this was due to recovering global demand (especially in Asia) and insufficient gas stocks. Later, Russian supply cuts and the conflict in Ukraine added fuel to the fire.
Many smaller suppliers have even gone bankrupt and ordinary people are left to cope with this on their own. However, all is not lost. There are a few simple tricks that can save you tens or even hundreds of euros a year on energy bills. This article will acquaint you with a few of them to protect you and your family budgets from the winter freeze.
1. Set the Optimum Temperature
When you‘re sleeping under a duvet or have to stay at work until 7 pm, there’s no need to have your home heated up to 25 degrees. Hence, lower the temperature on your thermostat by at least 3 to 5 degrees at night and when you're not at home. This step alone can save you more than a tenth of your energy costs. Many people also overheat unnecessarily. Stick to the recommended level of 19 to 21 degrees.
If you're afraid you'll forget to adjust your thermostat, program it to a regular schedule. Most of them already allow this. Alternatively, you can invest in a smart thermostat that assesses the optimum temperature on its own and its regime can be adjusted even from work via a mobile app. That way you’ll save during future winters as well.
The same advice applies to water heating. If your water heater is set to unnecessarily high values, decrease it by at least a few degrees so that it doesn't consume so much gas or electricity.
2. Seal Air Leaks
If you've already paid to heat your rooms to a comfortable temperature, it's ideal to keep that warmth inside and not spend extra money on outside air. Warm air can leak through anything, from windows and doors to poorly sealed gas and water pipe openings (both in blocks of flats and houses).
On the internet, you can find several tests for locating these leaks, ranging from attempts to feel it with your hand to an old-school way, whereby you put a candle near the suspect area. If the flame intensifies, the air is escaping through the hole.
You can buy air-sealing tapes or rubber gaskets for windows and doors at the store. Mounting foam will help with openings for pipes. For the future, insulating your house is also a wise investment, if you don't have it yet. If you own a property in Slovakia, this is the best time to do it, as you can get a subsidy thanks to the European Recovery Plan.
Slovakia plans to renovate around 30 thousand family houses by 2026. The maximum amount of the subsidy will be €16,600 and 50% of the total cost, and it can be obtained for purposes such as insulating your house or replacing your water heater. The applications are expected to be opened during this autumn. Details will be published on this website.
You can also book an energy audit. Many energy suppliers or companies that sell equipment such as water heaters provide it free of charge. It would involve an expert advising you on ways to save on energy costs, from changing the type of light bulbs to heater maintenance.
3. Let Nature Help You
Solar energy can be a big help when it comes to heating. So when the weather outside is nice, open the curtains and blinds. This will help rooms reach the desired temperature faster. Conversely, when it's dark and cold outside (at night, for instance), close the curtains to trap the heat inside. Up to 30% of escaped heat leaks through the windows.
If you have a room that you hardly use on normal days (such as a guest room), turn off its radiators and close the door to prevent warm air from the rest of the home from heating it.
4. Save on Electrical Appliances
You've probably already heard the tips about turning off the lights in empty rooms or swapping regular light bulbs for LEDs. But that's not all. For many electrical appliances, it's not enough to switch them off. In fact, they consume 75% of electricity when turned off.
Whether it's a TV, computer, or microwave if it shows the time or has a light indicator, energy will be consumed. Hence, you should plug them into extension cords that can be turned off when you don't need the appliance or if you’re out of the house.
Smart plug timers can remedy forgetting this time. Some cost only around €10 and will automatically switch the plugged-in appliance or extension cord off and on according to your chosen schedule.
5. Enhance Your Domestic Comfort
If your home feels warm and comfortable, it's easier to resist the temptation to add extra 2 degrees. There are several ways to do this. Have blankets, rugs, or duvets around your rooms to help you escape the cold during everyday activities.
Wear warm clothes; at home, no one will judge you for wearing a poncho, bathrobe, knitted socks, or even fingerless gloves (those of you who lived in an unheated dorm during your student days will confirm this works). Tea or hot chocolate will also help warm you up.
6. Utilize Cheaper Electricity
Many suppliers charge higher prices for electricity drawn at periods when the grid is at its busiest. Conversely, cheaper electricity can be used from around 10 pm until early afternoon the next day in the winter months. So if you schedule washing, cooking, or heating water for these hours, you will save money on surcharges.
Changing the supplier can sometimes also save money. Slovaks can compare prices on this website. Mind that the price lists change every February, so it's a good idea to check it regularly. Suppliers also often make money on charges for services and insurance that we don't actually need. Hence, you can check your invoices to see if you're accidentally overpaying for similar items each month.
7. Maintain the Heating System
To save money, you should also regularly bleed your radiators (instructions can be found here). If they contain trapped air, heating costs can increase by up to 15%. If some parts of a radiator are significantly colder than others, or if you can hear water splashing inside, it contains air and needs bleeding. The water heater filter should also be cleaned once a year.
Don't forget to call in a professional regularly to give your water heater a check-up and assess its performance. Even a simple burner cleaning can reduce the amount that occurs on your gas bill.
8. Help Yourself with Other Appliances...
If you cook and bake at home, you can set the oven door wide open once you've finished the lunch to release the heat into the room. Similarly, when showering, you can leave the door ajar to allow the energy from the hot water to escape to the rest of the home.
Tricks like this reduce the amount of energy it will take to heat the rest of the house. Conversely, if you only need heat in one room (for example, the bathroom), use a heater instead of raising the temperature in the whole household.
9. ...but Don‘t Strain Them Unnecessarily
To save electricity, put food in the fridge covered and cooled down. This will reduce the internal temperature and humidity, significantly reducing electricity consumption. Food also acts as insulation, so if you keep the fridge full, it will use less electricity to maintain the inside temperature. Only run the washing machine when you can load it to a maximum capacity. Clean the dryer's dust filter after each use.
10. Don’t Let the Heat Get Sucked Out
A fireplace may sound like a great heat source, but it can easily become a double-edged sword. Warm air rises upwards and can escape through the chimney. That’s why you should always close the damper when you're not using the fireplace.
The same threat is posed by a kitchen hood or bathroom ventilation if you leave it on too long. Identical reasoning explains why you should ventilate rooms briefly and intensely instead of leaving windows ajar permanently.
We hope that some of these tips will help you survive the expensive energy season and save in all years to come. If you've found the article interesting, make sure to also read our blogs on how to save hundreds of euros on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
If you have other proven tips on how to save on energy costs, please share them with us in the comments below the post on social media, or mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll add them to the article.