Lots of people have their own ’tricks’ for saving energy.
We've collected a list of the common 'tips' to prove wrong as many of these are actually just myths that won’t save you any energy or money at all.
Prepare for a few surprises.
This is a very common myth. But in fact, you really don’t need to be heating your water all the time. Your immersion heater or boiler will heat up hot water which is stored in a tank. As long as the tank has a good insulating jacket, it will keep the water hot all day, without needing to be constantly reheated.
You can use a timer to heat your water for an hour or two each day just before you would usually need hot water for baths or showers. Modern washing machines, dishwashers and electric showers take cold water and heat it themselves so you don’t need a supply of hot water waiting for them in the tank.
If you’re on Economy 7, make sure your electric immersion tank is coming on for a couple of hours in the night when you are getting electricity at a much cheaper, off-peak rate.
Myth. If you come home to a cold house, it's tempting to whack the thermostat up in the hope that this will make the place warm up faster. Sadly it won't; your boiler works at the same constant speed regardless of whether you set your thermostat to 20C or 30C, and your home won't warm up any quicker.
Myth. The confusion here springs from the misconception that radiators emit most of their heat through radiation – the theory is that dark colours radiate heat more efficiently. However, as radiators work mostly through convection (the transferral of warm energy to cooler places), the idea that painting them black would increase their output is nonsense.
Another common myth. Don’t pay for heat that you’re not using! If you are out during the day (or tucked up in bed at night), you don’t need the heating on. Even if you turn your thermostat down a bit, your boiler will keep firing up and using energy (and cost you money) at times when you won't feel the benefit. Instead, programme your central heating using the timer so that it switches off when you’re out or in bed, and switches back on to warm up the house about half an hour before you get home or before you get up.
Dishwashers often get a bad reputation for being lumped in with energy-sucking appliances such as tumble dryers.
Whilst tumble dryers remain a serious energy offender (drying your clothes on a rack in front of a radiator instead could save you up to £130 per year), dishwashers are not bad for the environment. In some cases, when used properly, they can actually use less energy than hand-washing dishes.
Make sure your dishwasher is always fully-loaded and stacked properly, so that every dish and pan surface is accessible to the water jets, but be careful not to overload it.
Myth. There are actually several ways of insulating walls that don’t have a cavity. You can insulate the outside or the inside of the house. If you own the house, you might even be able to get a grant to help fund this through a scheme called the Energy Company Obligation.
Having the heating on all day can make the inside of your home feel stuffy and can actually affect your health, leaving skin and sinuses uncomfortable and dry. It can even result in headaches and nosebleeds.
Many people resist opening a window for fear of losing heat from the house. Keeping them shut at all times reduces ventilation which can cause damp, mould and rot. Try opening a window for a five to ten minutes a few times a day during the colder months.
This may be true, but not for most of us. While some households in the UK are on tariffs that vary depending on the time of day, the majority of customers pay the same rate at all times of day and night. However, if you know you are already on an Economy tariff, or are considering switching to one, then running appliances during off-peak periods will be cheaper.
Myth. Cavity wall insulation is much more likely to solve problems of damp caused by condensation because it makes your walls less cold so less prone to damp. For very few houses that are right on the coast or face persistent driving rain, the empty cavity can provide some protection from damp getting in from outside. This might also be the case if there are cracks or damage in your outer wall.
For most people and households, cavity wall insulation has a huge impact on keeping your home warm and reducing your heating bills.
You can save a lot of electricity by washing your clothes at a lower temperature. Most washing powders are now designed to work just as well at 30C as they do at higher temperatures. If you are trying to remove a particularly stubborn stain try using a pre-wash stain remover.
Classic myth! People often think that windows are a major problem because they can be draughty and cold draughts are very noticeable. It’s true that double glazing is much better at keeping heat in than single glazing. But, out of the heat you lose from your home, you actually lose about 35% through the walls, about 25% through the roof, and only about 10% through the windows. So getting your loft and walls insulated will make a much bigger difference, and it’s also likely to be far cheaper than getting double glazing.
We’re not saying that double glazing is a waste of money, but it’s better to make sure you've insulated the loft and walls first.
Boxes, packing cases and unused furniture in your loft are not helping to insulate your home. And if they're squashing your insulation down they're probably doing the opposite as standard loft insulation works best if it is able to trap lots of air. If you want to store things in the loft, set aside an area next to the hatch, add insulation only to the level of the joists and then put insulated loft board across the joists to place your items on. The rest of your loft should be insulated to a depth of 270mm (10.5 inches).
1) Turn the ‘output’ dial to zero before you go to bed or go out, so you’re not wasting energy overheating empty rooms. You can do this about an hour before you go to bed, as it will take a while for the heater and room to cool down.
2) Boost switch for Electric Water Tank Heater (Economy 7 or 10) - Most systems have a second, smaller heating element at the top of the immersion cylinder, activated by a boost switch. Use this to heat a small amount of water at expensive peak times during the day.
Did you know that you do not always have to be on benefits to get help with improving the energy efficiency of your home?
Over 650,000 homes within the area potentially qualify for help to reduce their Energy Bills. Cosy Homes in Lancashire has been set up by all 15 Local Authorities to provide you with a simple way to find if you are one of them.
Find out which services you are eligible for by answering one simple question:
Do you live in Lancashire with an income of £36,600 or less from Full or Part time employment and the receipt of benefits of some kind (including tax credits)?