8th August 2016
8 cost-free ways to save electricity
Chris Roper, Writer
Stick some extra cash in your pocket by following these energy-saving tips. The Earth will thank you for it.
1. Switch off lights when you don’t need them.
Okay, okay. You probably know this one. But did you know that lights take up about 18% of an average household’s annual electricity bill? Even energy-saving bulbs cost money to run, so when you turn in, turn off the lights.
2. Open those curtains!
The Sun, nature’s light source, is a fantastic illuminator, and best of all it’s free! So during daylight hours turn off the lights, open all your curtains, raise all the blinds, tie back the netting, and let the sunshine in.
3. Turn your appliances off – don’t leave them on standby.
We’ve all done it. Our favourite show is over, we hit the red button on the remote, and waddle off to bed. But wait. While you’re sleeping, any device still in standby mode (TVs, for example) will slowly suck away the electricity to keep itself awake. Turn devices off completely, switch them off at the power outlet – and to be extra safe, unplug them.
4. Only fill your kettle with the water you need.
There are several ways to do this (yes, really). One, you use the meter built into the side of some kettles to match the levels to various needs, like cups of tea or pot noodles. Or, you can mark the levels using a pen or stickers. Finally, you can measure the water you need by filling the cup or bowl from the tap, then pouring it in the kettle – that way you’re certain to boil just enough for your needs.
5. Get rid of your tumble dryer – or use it less.
The tumble dryer devours energy. And it’s not good for your clothes, either. Use an outside clothes line if you can, not only will you save money on your electricity bill, but the UV light actually kills bacteria, helping keep your clothes fresh and your whites so bright you'll need sunglasses to bring them in.
If you can’t use an outside clothes line, a clothes horse and radiator hangers are reasonable substitutes for indoor drying (in well-ventilated, non-living areas if possible – read about the healthiest ways to dry indoors). If you must use your dryer, keep it for emergencies only.
6. Don’t use your washing machine until it’s full.
Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people will put a wash on with nothing but a gym kit inside. Most modern washing machines are energy-efficient, but not all, and the older models guzzle juice like Andy Murray at half-time.
Regardless of your model it will still use energy and if you wait until the machine is full you’ll save money. Hand wash emergency stuff, it might be a bit old school but it works.
7. Stick to 30° or less when washing clothes.
Blistering hot water ruins clothes and uses a lot of electricity to heat. Most laundry detergents are extremely effective at temperatures of 30° and under, so stick to the cooler cycles to save money and keep your clothes beautiful.
The only time you'd need higher temperatures is if you're sanitising clothes (which hospitals have to do for bed linen, for example).
8. Ditch your dishwasher if it’s not energy-efficient, otherwise use it wisely.
Nothing quite as character-forming as being submerged to the elbows in suds (at least that’s what my parents told me).
Whether hand washing is better than machine depends on how you do it (modern machines are actually better if you’re a splasher), but much like washing machines, dishwashers use heat and motion to wash, so you want to get the most out of each use.
This means stacking your dishes efficiently so you can fit more in and only turning it on when it’s full. Also, some dishwashers have a heat-dry mode. Don’t use it! Your dishes will dry just as easily when left alone for fifteen minutes or so, or if you use a rinsing agent.
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