With incessant energy price-rises, such as recent jumps of as much as nine per cent in the UK, we’re all becoming more aware of the part we have to play in saving energy, which in turn will save us money. Some energy-saving tips might seem a little strange, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work.
* Fill up the freezer: Having spaces in the freezer or fridge wastes energy because every time you open the door, you allow warm air from your kitchen to get into those spaces, which will then become warmer. Once you close the door, those spaces will need to cool again, using energy and costing you money. Obviously, the best thing to do is keep your fridge and freezer well-stocked with food, but if you can’t do that, containers of water will be just as efficient. Filling ice-cream or margarine tubs is a great way of doing it.
* Buy more dishes: As you’re probably aware, running an appliance at its full capacity is the most efficient way to use it. For example, a washing-machine or dryer is very wasteful if you half-fill it. This applies to the dishwasher as well, but if you only have a small household, it may be difficult to do this and you could end up wasting energy by washing small loads. Buying extra dishes to cover for this makes it much easier to fill the dishwasher or you could simply not keep any for special occasions. Just enjoy all your crockery all year.
* Vampire power: If the word ‘vampire’ only brings to mind stories of bats and bloodsuckers, there’s more for you to learn. ‘Vampire power’ is a term that describes the effect of leaving appliances in standby mode or even switched off but still plugged in. While standby is the worst offender, many people don’t realise that power can ‘leak’ via a switched off, plugged-in appliance. Remove plugs from sockets wherever possible and watch the savings grow.
* Self-glazing: While many homes have double-glazed windows, if you don’t, or if you still feel that the cold is seeping in, some well-placed cellophane can act as an extra layer of glazing and a barrier to draughts. For small windows, a roll of cling-film will probably be enough and for larger windows a plastic dust-sheet from your local DIY shop will do the job. Once you have attached the sheet with tape, blow it with a hairdryer on a warm or hot setting to tighten it.
* Reflect on the heat: Not all of the heat from your radiators goes where it should, particularly if they're on an external wall. An old trick to make sure you get the benefit of all of a radiator's heat is to attach foil to the wall behind it. According to a BBC report, although there are specially made foils, a good-quality kitchen foil can be a reasonable substitute.
By following these unusual suggestions as well as other methods, such as changing your old light bulbs for new energy-efficient ones, fitting room thermostats and shopping around for companies that offer lower energy tariffs, you can make big savings. Only pay for what you really need to use and, who knows, you may save enough to splash out on a holiday somewhere where you won't need to worry about radiators.