With yet another lockdown looming, the nation is once again under instruction to work from home where possible and not leave the house other than for a limited number of reasons.
Whilst remaining at home of course has its financial benefits, (for example saving money on travel and eating out), as we’ve touched on before, these benefits can also easily be outweighed by the inevitable increased cost of household bills.
There’s lots of really effective ways to keep your bills to a minimum, but a lot of them require an initial outlay. Here’s our top tips, made up of things you can implement immediately, that won’t actually cost you a thing…
WORKING FROM HOME?
If, like many people, you’re back to working from home, instead of using the office’s heating and electricity, you’ll be using your own. Here’s a few things you can do to minimise your energy consumption…
Please also remember that you may be able to claim an allowance or tax relief if you’re asked to work from home – Here’s one of our recent articles giving more detail:
When choosing where to set up your workspace, be it a temporary or a more permanent solution, try to pick your spot carefully – After all, it’s where you’re going to spend the majority of your day!
Pick an area where there is plenty of natural light… Although darkness is more than likely going to set in before you finish work for the day, picking your spot carefully will limit the amount of time you need the lights switched on – Not only that, but it’s proven to have a positive effect on your mental health.
Also, non-energy related, but a practical tip… If possible, try and choose a space which you can close off once you’ve finished for the day. Spending so much time at home can be difficult – It’s nice to be able to separate work and home life.
Many offices tend to have a temperature higher than average, allowing for employees to continue to dress smartly through the winter… Whilst there may be occasions where you are required to attend meetings via video conference, for the most part you can exchange your work wardrobe for something more comfortable. Swap out the shirts and blouses for warm, woolly jumpers (even put on a dressing gown, wrap yourself in a blanket – Who would know?!) and keep the heating to a minimum! Turning it down, even just by a degree, can save you money!
Tea and Coffee Breaks:
It’s an obvious one, but try and boil the kettle as few times as possible! If you’re in the house alone, why not try making up a flask in the morning? If you’re not the only person in the household working from home, consider having joint breaks to avoid repeatedly boiling the kettle.
Also, don’t boil more water than you need! It’s a tip we all know saves energy, but it’s also one we have a tendency to ignore!
When your day’s finished, don’t leave your laptop on standby all night…! Close everything down properly and even switch off at the plug. Do the same with your other hardware, such as printers, scanners etc. They can all be switched back on in the morning! Why not take things a step further and apply the same principle to your household appliances?
FROM THE KITCHEN
Not many people realise that a microwave is much more energy efficient than a hob or an oven. When cooking a meal, think about making a large batch that can be frozen and reheated in the microwave, as and when required.
When washing up, fill a bowl with water rather than leaving the tap to run.
If you can avoid it, don’t be tempted to open the oven too early to check your progress. Doing so will cause the oven to lose a lot of heat and use extra energy trying to bring it back up to temperature again.
The weather’s cold and wet, your confined to the house for more time than you’re used to… It would be easy to rely on the TV, games consoles, tablets etc to get through the day, but they’re all energy hungry. Try and set time limits – Consider plugs on timers if necessary, to create a forced cut off.
It’s not always easy, especially with children, but try and think about other forms of entertainment. Perhaps take up a hobby that you can do from home, play boards games, paint, read… Discover that you enjoy doing things that normally you wouldn’t even have the time to try.
Particularly in winter, baths can be a preferred option for many of us and often a chance to escape and relax for half an hour, however, as a general rule, they use more water than a shower. Try and save baths for a special treat and have showers for the essentials. Each spend a minute less in the shower than you normally would, and you’ll immediately start to save.
These days, washing detergents are more intelligent and can wash your clothes just as effectively at a lower temperature, however, as a nation, we’re stuck in a rut of washing on a long, hot cycle! Reduce the temperature and length of your wash and if you’re concerned, just run a hot wash every now and again.
AROUND THE HOUSE
Draught proof your home! Heat can be easily lost through windows, doors, gaps in the floor, or even up the chimney! Use draught excluders to block gaps and ensure you lose as little heat as possible. If you don’t have proper draught excluders, consider using blankets, towels, or cushions that you already have around the house.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I COULD DO?
Although in these difficult times it’s possibly not everyone’s top priority, if you’re on a standard variable tariff, or coming to the end of your agreement, by far the most effective way to reduce your energy bills is to switch supplier.
The process is quick, easy and seamless. Particularly if working from home, people are naturally nervous about the change and a possible interruption to the supply, however, switching suppliers is really quick, easy and most importantly seamless.