As students across the country head back to university this month, British Gas has come up with some handy energy saving tips and “life hacks” for both saving money on energy bills and avoiding the common arguments over long showers or switching lights off.
Of course, these tips don’t just apply to students, anyone can use them to save money on their energy bills.
Here are the tips, with a few of our own comments at the end:
- Ditch the tumble dryer – Running it for just 24 minutes uses 1kWh of electricity, meaning it’s one of the most energy-consuming appliances when it comes to washing and cleaning. Drying clothes on the line can save up to £70 per year. Our comments: also try not to out drying on radiators, as it will reduce their efficiency (more below).
- Shorter showers – Keep showers to 10 minutes, or invest in a shower monitor to keep an eye on how much hot water you’re using. Our comments: we were going to suggest saving water by showering or bathing with a friend, but not sure that’s allowed these days.
- Unplug devices – Unplug the TV, straighteners and even the Xbox or PS4 when leaving the house for extended periods of time, particularly when going away over the summer holidays. It may seem small but the energy used can quickly add up. Our comments: take a look at this electricity cost calculator which will give you an idea of how much you’re spending right now.
- Get a free smart meter – Stop ‘guesstimating’. A smart meter will measure exactly how much gas and electricity is being used in real-time, avoiding over-estimated costs and surprise bills. Our comments: a lot will depend on the property & your landlord as to whether a smart meter is available to you, or whether they’re willing to install one.
- Kettle to boil water – When cooking pasta or rice, use the kettle to boil water for cooking instead of heating a pan on the stove – it’s quicker and uses less energy.
- Use the microwave – When possible, try to cook food in the microwave rather than in an electric oven. Microwaving food such a jacket potatoes for 10 minutes instead of oven cooking for an hour can save around £2.50 per week, or £130 over a year.
- Use the dishwasher – If you’re lucky enough to have one in your student accommodation, using the dishwasher can be more energy efficient than washing by hand, saving money as well as time on chores. For cleaning all the dishes and cutlery after those dinner parties, make sure the dishwasher is fully loaded and let it do the rest. Our comments: this tip surprised me a little, as I’d always thought dishwashers were pretty inefficient because of the water they have to heat (and then the inevitable re-washing when they still come out dirty), but perhaps the amount of hot water used when washing by hand makes that even less efficient. Another tip about the dishwasher is to cancel the programme when it reaches the drying stage – this uses quite a lot of electricity, but the dishes will dry naturally anyway, although they will of course take longer to dry this way.
- Improve radiator efficiency – Keep radiators clear and avoid putting the sofa in front of the radiator, as it will absorb a lot of the heat, preventing it from warming up the rest of the house. Our comments: also, try turning the heating down by a single degree – the difference may be unnoticeable, but there will be a small saving in your gas or electricity bill.
- Only boil the water you need – Tea and coffee are student staples after endless late nights, so make sure to only boil the water you need. Fill mugs with water first to use as a measuring gauge before pouring into the kettle, ensuring no hot water goes to waste.
- Use energy-saving light bulbs – They last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs and can save around £50 over the bulb’s lifetime, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Our comments: If you can afford the most efficient bulbs then great, but I can’t imagine many students will be rushing out to replace the bulbs in their accommodation.
Most of these are pretty straight forward and sensible tips – although I know from experience of living in a house of 8 in my second year of university, how difficult it can be to manage the bills, especially when you end up paying for certain individuals who use their own heaters (ahem) as well as the central heating! So as well as looking to save money on the energy bills, it might also be worth looking at tools like Splittable, which could help you manage these shared expenses.
Do you have any energy saving tips of your own? Please share them in the comments below.
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