With energy bills sky high, is it worth spending money on gadgets to reduce energy consumption? Lily Canter investigates.
Over the past month, my family has stopped using the dishwasher and started washing again. Based on our smart meter readings, we estimate that this saves us 50p per day even if we use more water.
Over the course of a year, this really adds up. Although we still use the dishwasher once a week for a large Sunday lunch, we will save £ 150 a year, about 6% of our energy bill.
But are there other ways to save money by using cheap gadgets?
How to reduce your energy costs
Switch to LED lights
Replacing light bulbs in your home with LED lights can make a big dent in your energy bill in the long run. These cost around £ 2.50 each and can be purchased from reputable companies such as Screwfix.
“These save up to 80% energy and can last up to 15,000 hours,” said Deepak Tailor, founder of LatestFreeStuff.co.uk.
“If the average household replaced all their light bulbs with LEDs, they would save about £ 40 a year on their energy bill.”
According to Which? A traditional light bulb costs around £ 8.42 per year to use, while an LED bulb only costs £ 1.71, saving households more than £ 180 during their lifetime.
Repair or replace: how to extend the life of your appliances
Replace shower head
There are various shower nozzles on the market that cost as little as £ 25 which claim to use and heat 60% less water than regular shower nozzles.
Users simply press a button that reduces water use by controlling the flow and spray pattern. While these may be a good solution for a mixer or power shower, they may not be suitable for an electric shower that is already water efficient.
Limiting the water flow in an electric shower can also lead to water building up in the heat tank, which can potentially cause the shower to overheat.
It can also be difficult to replace a large, fixed shower head with a more environmentally friendly variant.
As an alternative Which? recommend that you ask your water company if they provide any free water-saving gadgets. For example, you may have a shower flow regulator that is screwed to the bottom of your shower hose or a waterproof egg timer that attaches to your shower wall via a suction cup.
The easiest way to save water and electricity in the shower is to have a shorter shower.
“Spending just four minutes in the shower can save a typical home £ 65 a year on their energy bills,” advised Dax McLean, of Heatable.
Can descaling your kettle save money?
A cheap and easy way to save a few bucks is to make sure you regularly descale your kettle. Lime coating slows down the efficiency and cooking time of kettles, which means that they take longer and use more energy to boil water.
A product like Oust All Purpose Descaler can be used every three months in areas with hard water and six months in areas with soft water.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to save huge sums of money as this test revealed, but as fuel costs continue to skyrocket, every penny counts.
A more expensive option is to install a water conditioner if you live in an area with hard water. This will treat all the water in your home and reduce limescale deposits in pipes and appliances, allowing them to run more efficiently.
Although this will cost around £ 770 for a family of four, a water conditioner could potentially reduce energy consumption by 12% per year.
How to reduce laundry costs
Using a low-cost product like Color Catcher (which usually costs £ 4.50) can help reduce washing costs as it allows you to mix colors and whites instead of adding half a load of each.
It costs an average of £ 37.80 to £ 75.60 per year to wash 270 washes depending on the energy efficiency of your machine. When calculating water consumption, the average cost rises to almost 137 pounds per year.
So by reducing the number of washes by using Color Catcher, which covers 60 washes, you can save a reasonable amount.
Or you can do as I do and mix white and color together on a 30 or 40 degree full wash and save additional energy. Or you can go one step further and switch to 20-degree washing, which can save 62% of energy, according to Which ?.
When it comes to drying clothes, gadgets like ecoegg claim that they reduce drying time by up to 28% by separating your clothes and allowing more air to circulate.
Dryers are one of the more expensive appliances to use and cost on average around £ 40 per year if used only once a week.
Another option when we go into the warmer months is to simply put your clothes on the clothesline.
Installing the right heat controls is the best way to heat your home to a comfortable temperature while saving up to £ 75 a year.
A smart thermostat can help control and monitor energy use, especially if you use zone heating.
“The Nest thermostat has features such as geofencing, which ensures that your heating is only always on when you are at home and switched off in your absence, which helps prevent energy waste and high bills,” says McLean.
Smart thermostats, which cost from around £ 60 to £ 250, are best used in combination with thermostatic radiator valves, which cost around £ 28 for a pair.
“If you really want to take control of your heating to stay comfortable while reducing your bills, you also want programmable thermostatic valves on your radiators,” commented Brian Horne, senior insight and analysis consultant at the Energy Saving Trust.
“These control the temperature separately in each room and because they are programmable, you can set them to turn upside down at different times in different rooms.”
Another tip is to install Radflek Radiator reflector panels, which cost around £ 22 for three, to prevent energy being lost from the back of the radiators.
Do smart meters save money?
Simple solutions to save money
There are many energy-saving gadgets on the market, but the cheapest method may just be to consume less.
By getting a free smart meter fitted, you can see what costs the most and adapt your behavior accordingly.
For example, you can watch less TV, do not use the dryer in the summer and take a quick shower.
Online energy calculators like Sust It can be useful for measuring how much energy appliances use. And if you spend money on one device, it’s worth choosing something that controls multiple devices.
“One of the simplest steps you can take is to turn off devices such as TVs, computers, and game consoles from standby,” Horne advised.
“You can make this even easier by investing in a standby saver or a smart plug that lets you turn off all your devices from standby mode at once.”