With the cost of living soaring, inflation at levels not seen for 40 years and energy prices much higher than Winter 2021 our wallets are being squeezed in all areas.
Whilst we have little control over the worldwide factors influencing the surge in prices, individually there are things we can do to keep our outgoings to a manageable level and our bills in check.
It may seem premature, in the midst of one of the hottest and driest Summer’s on record, to be thinking about keeping warm, but as August heads towards September and the Sun disappears over the horizon just that little bit earlier each day, cooler evenings won’t be too far away. It’s tempting to put the central heating on, ‘just to take the edge off’, but this could be a lot of wasted energy for the sake of an hour or two before bed.
Unless your heating system has individually controllable thermostats, you could be heating the whole house when you only need to warm one room. And of course, not everyone feels the cold the same way, so putting the heating on may not only be expensive but also uncomfortable for some as well.
Older generations might tell us to stick another jumper on, or an extra pair of socks, but nobody wants to feel restricted under multiple layers of clothing so why not wrap up in a cosy blanket or throw instead. They are great for wrapping up on the patio on a cool evening, or for snuggling into in front of the TV, and some are big enough for two. They are also light enough to be easily portable, so can be moved easily from room to room, used as an extra layer on a bed or put in the car to take on days out.
When it comes to bedtime, an electric blanket is a cheap and easy way to warm the bed up before retiring for the night. Couple this with brushed cotton sheets and bedding, which trap the heat and a thicker 13.5 tog duvet, and a comfortable nights’ sleep is assured without the worry of burning cash through the night to keep warm.
Other ways to keep the heating bills down are to stop heat disappearing from the house to start with. Double or triple glazed windows, loft and cavity wall insulation are the most effective ways to prevent heat loss, but can come at a hefty price. Using draught excluders around doors, windows and letter boxes is a low-cost way to prevent draughts. Door curtains have the same effect, while thermal curtains and blinds have the benefit of helping keep your home cool in the Summer and warm in the Winter. Choose interlined made-to-measure curtains, with thermal linings, for an endless choice of designs to match your décor.
There will come a time of course, when it’ll be just too cold for that blanket or throw to keep the chill away, but you may still not need to heat the whole house. Portable heating solutions such as halogen and ceramic heaters or oil filled radiators are ideal for heating single rooms or small areas. Calor Gas is still relatively cheap compared to natural gas, so maybe a Calor Gas heater is worth considering. You can now get a Calor Gas heater which looks just like a log burning stove, and a real log burner is another way of keeping warm without using any electric or gas – be sure to use the correct pre-dried logs though, to keep carbon emissions down.
And if you can’t avoid putting down the switch?
Well, there is some good news. Modern electrical appliances are more efficient than they have ever been.
Heat pump technology is now widely available in modern tumble dryers. This can make a huge difference to the amount of energy used. A traditional vented tumble dryer can use over 630 kWh/Annum, compared to under 200 kWh/Annum for some condenser dryers with heat pump technology. Many now also include sensor technology, automatically reducing drying time depending on how wet the clothes are and how dry you actually need them.
Washing machines too are becoming more efficient. Inverter motors are quieter as well as more energy efficient. Programs now include rapid wash, for when clothes or towels just need freshening up, eco programs determine how much water is required for each load, and functions such as Vario Speed and Speed Perfect on Siemens and Bosch washing machines adjust the length of the washing cycle down to the required level, rather than going through a full-length cycle unnecessarily. Add in Auto-Dosing on top spec Miele models and energy usage can be almost 50% less than more basic machines. (Miele WEI865WCS 49 kWh/100 cycles vs Hoover H3W4105TE 90 kWh/100 cycles).
If you aren’t cleaning, you may well be cooking and there’s more good news here.
Multi-function ovens give the option of different cooking modes for different cooking methods, so not only can you choose the best method to achieve the perfect bake or crisp pizza, you don’t need to have the fan oven running full blast just to cook a few chicken dippers.
In fact, for really efficient cooking, you don’t need to use the oven at all. A Slow Cooker, Halogen Oven or an Air-fryer, such as a Ninja Foodi Health Grill and Fryer, will cook almost anything using less energy than a conventional or fan oven, from those chicken dippers to a full-size chicken or fish and chips.
If you don’t want to invest in one of those, you may already have the solution in your kitchen. A microwave oven is for more than just heating baked beans, baked potatoes and ready meals, especially if it has a grill.
Cooking on the hob rather than in the oven? Induction is definitely the way to go! Working using magnetic fields rather than direct heat, induction cooking is faster, safer, cleaner, more controllable and uses less energy than either conventional electric, ceramic or gas hobs. Go for a stand-alone induction hob or cooker with an induction hob and the chef in your house will thank you for it, as well as your bank balance.
Our staff are on hand to help you with saving energy around your home. Whether it's a warmer duvet, draft exclusion products or a new electrical appliance you are after, we are happy to give as much advice as we can to help keep costs down. Visit us in-store at 68-72 Dyer Street, Cirencester
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