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Fact or Fiction? Dispel Those Energy Myths And Save

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At a time when energy bills continue to soar and households across the UK are struggling to keep their heads above water, many will be concerned with looking for alternative methods to cut costs.

However, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding money-saving. While there is a myriad of unusual ways to cut costs while keeping your house warm, it can be tricky to navigate the line between fact and fiction.

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What’s more, with the Treasury considering whether to raise the energy cap from its current level of £2500 from next April, it’s more important than ever to demystify energy cost saving hacks.

Price and energy comparison experts at Quotezone.co.uk want to dispel the energy myths and help people find savings. 

Quotezone.co.uk Energy Saving Expert Jack Ferguson, says: “When reviewing home energy usage, we recommend you ask yourself some simple questions; firstly, do I really need to use it? Or is there a cheaper way? Remember – if it moves, lights up, or creates heat then it uses energy. Secondly, is the energy saving tip safe? Letting heat from the oven into the home could be dangerous if you have young kids and pets running around – always think safety first.

“Finally and quite crucially, can I make it a household habit? Experts will give you different answers on how long it takes to create a habit, but the more times you repeat a behaviour, the more likely it is to stick. So, make a list, share it with your household – even pop reminders on devices to help make those money saving habits second nature.”

Quotezone.co.uk has put together a top 10 list of energy saving everyday queries and urban legends to help households discover savings:

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  1. Is it better to leave the heating on all day?

Usually no, but it depends. If you live in a modern well insulated home and have people home all day, then it can make sense to keep it on – but try turning the temperature down a little and wear some extra layers to help save some money.

If your property is not well insulated, then it is wise to only use the heating when the property is occupied – otherwise the heat you are paying for will have escaped before you get any benefit from it.

  1. You should turn off radiators in rooms that you do not use?

Sometimes.  If you have Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV) – the valves with numbers on them – then it is better to keep them on a low setting than completely turning them off, otherwise you can encounter other issues such as damp which can lead to health problems.

The number two setting on a TRV is usually around 15 degrees C – too low for most people to feel comfortable but should be enough to keep those unused areas damp free. Avoid turning these above four as that is about 23 degrees C which will cost more to run and is too high for most people anyway.

  1. Washing clothes at lower temperatures does not clean properly?

Wrong. Manufacturers of washing powders and liquids have designed them to work effectively at lower temperatures. Most of the energy used by a washing machine is to heat the water, so lower temperatures will save you money.

Some items like bedding or underwear may need a high temperature wash, but for most items you shouldn’t need those expensive programmes.

  1. Immersion heaters are expensive to run?

During the day – yes. Electricity is usually more expensive than gas (typically three times the price). Whilst electricity is 100% efficient at heating, a modern gas boiler should be at least 90% – so despite being a little less efficient, it is usually cheaper to use gas or oil to heat your water. If you have off-peak electricity (such as Economy 7) which gives you cheap night-time rates, then it can work out cheaper to use the immersion to heat the water – but only if you have a timer to control it and use the water before it cools down.

Most homes in the UK have a gas combi boiler, so this will not apply to them as they will not have a hot water cylinder.

  1. Electric blankets versus hot water bottles?

This is a tricky one – both have benefits, and it really depends on the user’s needs. Electric blankets are an effective way of keeping warm overnight, and usually cost 3p-4p per hour to run (24p to 32p per night). As with any electrical device, there are risks and you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions – checking them regularly to make sure there is no damage to any of the wires.

Hot water bottles usually hold around two litres of water – that will only cost a couple of pennies to fill – but remember to only use warm water to avoid damaging bottle and take care when filling it to avoid scalds. The downside is that it only stays warm for a few hours, and there is a risk of a leak if it’s not properly closed.

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  1. Tumble dryers are bad?

It is probably the most feared appliance in the home, as everyone thinks it costs a fortune to run – but given the UK’s maritime climate, most of us need to use it to get the laundry turned around quickly.

Try to use a clothesline outdoors when you can but if you must use the tumble dryer, think about the time of day for using it – if you have solar panels then aim for the peak periods around noon, or if you have off-peak electricity (e.g. economy 7), then try to use it then – some appliances have a handy timer function which can help. Modern tumble dryers have sensor functions, try to use these as they will stop once the moisture levels are low – rather than running for a set time even if the clothes are already dry.

With any appliance, regularly check it is functioning properly (check the user manual), register it with the manufacture in case there are safety recalls, and it is advisable to have a smoke alarm in the same room.

  1. Tinfoil behind the radiators saves money?

Not for long! Ordinary tinfoil is made from very thin rolled aluminium which becomes dull as it oxidises, reducing its effectiveness quickly. Radiators only give off around 20% radiant heat, the other 80% is actually convection heat which will not be reflected anyway.

There are a variety of specialist reflective radiator panels on the market which are good for older homes, however if you already have cavity wall insulation then its less likely you will make any significant savings with these.

  1. Is it cheaper to use small electric heaters?

If you need a quick boost of heat in a room, then a small heater might be useful – but beware, some of them use a lot of electricity and with prices now high they can be costly if used too much.

A typical electric fan heater is rated at 2kW (that means it uses two units every hour) – with the current price cap that equates to 68p every hour, so running it when working at home could cost you £27.20 for a 40-hour week. 

  1. Dehumidifiers save money?

Lots of influencers have been championing the dehumidifier recently, which when used appropriately can save on heating costs. Put simply, a dehumidifier is an electronic device which condenses the moisture from the air which can then be disposed of. Drier air is easier to heat, so if you have a humid home then they may save you money. The downside is that they usually cost more than £100 and the cost of a 300 watt dehumidifier could be over £17 a week if you need to run it 24 hours a day.

We recommend that you check the air moisture level of your home before spending big, you can buy a basic ‘thermo-hygrometer’ for around £10 which will let you know the ‘relative humidity’ of the air – 30% to 60% is reasonable, if its higher than that for prolonged periods, then it’s worth further investigation.

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  1. Grants are only for people on benefits

It is a common misconception that you can only get assistance with energy saving measures if you receive certain benefits. There are lots of different initiatives to help people save money, from new heating systems and insulation to small aids such as water widgets or shower timers – many of these are available to everyone, so why not have a quick search and see what you can get help with.

Organisations like the Energy Savings Trust and the government’s £12 billion ‘Help to Heat’ schemes are a good place to start – remember, the cheapest unit of energy is the one you do not need.

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