Saturday, 6 October 2012

My Plan to Lower Our Bills


I have decided to review our electricity, gas and water meters monthly, to keep an eye on our usage and prevent any big shocks when the first bill comes through the door.

This month we have used:

Gas – £2.06
Electricity - £34.01
Water – £26.55 (not including the £118 water leak when we first moved in, which is thankfully being paid by the landlord)

The average UK energy bill is £1259 per year, which of course includes a lot of winter heating and child-related costs. Our combined total for this month is £36.07 (a quarter of the UK average) but I still think we could lower this, especially since there are only two of us and it isn't winter yet!

The average UK water bill is £376 a year. Ours will be £312 if it stays the same, so we should definitely be able to cut back on this!

Methods we already use to cut down energy use:
  • Currently no heating
  • Clothes are washed at 30°C
  • We don't have a tumble drier, so clothes are dried outside on that rare sunny day
  • The fridge is fairly empty, which helps it to run efficiently (see comments below for a discussion on whether this is actually the case!!)
  • Energy saving light bulbs
  • We have a mini-oven, so we don't have to pre-heat the big oven for ages just to cook a small meal for two

Methods we use to save water:
  • Wait for a full load of washing before running the machine
  • Take showers not baths
  • If it's yellow, we let it mellow (my Mum will kill me if she sees that!) :)
  • The toilet has a very small tank, so we're not wasting litres of water down the drain
  • We live in Bristol, so there's no need to water the plants! :)


To try and get the bills down this month, I will be employing the following tactics:
  • Mark a line on the kettle for two mugs of water (The Boyfriend gets a bit enthusiastic and boils it nearly full!!)
  • Be very careful to turn things off at the wall. The TV is in standby mode even if you push the off button on the set, so you really have to turn it off at the wall.
  • Look into getting better curtains. The curtains in our flat are so thin you can half see through them! They won't do any good in winter when we need to insulate the flat as much as possible.
  • Get a shower timer. We are both guilty of luxuriating in the shower for far longer than necessary. We need to jump in, get clean and get out!

How do you rate against the UK average bills? Got any top tips for us? (We are renting so can't do anything that permanently affects the property, such as installing insulation and changing kitchen appliances).

8 comments:

theghostwhoshops said...

I was under the impression that it was better to have a full fridge (or is that freezer?) for it to run more efficiently? Of course making sure it doesn't get opened very often also makes a big difference ...

Justine said...

I have had to move into temporary accommodation and have a washer dryer, it is rubbish but I like fluffy towels.s. how do you keep your towels fluffy without a dryer?

cumbrian said...

From your averages, we use about half, both energy and water.

Freezer's more economic to run full, not sure about fridge, I would have thought it would be more economic to have it at least half full. To my male logic, if it's full of very cold things (bottles of beer for example, or even water) the mass of the cold things means that there's less air to keep cool, and less escapes when the door opens.
Or I might be totally wrong, what's the reasoning behind it being more economic empty?

Bryallen said...

I have always heard it's best to keep the freezer as full as possible, and logically it would make sense to keep the fridge full too!

I always heard it was best to keep the fridge empty, so that it wasn't working hard to cool down lots of stuff, however once it IS cool it would probably run more efficiently full!

So I did some Googling. This website (http://www.servicecentral.com.au/resources/articles/What-s-more-energy-efficient-A-full-fridge-or-an-empty-fridge/636) states that it is best to keep it full, so the food acts as cold storage.

However, this website (http://magblog.audubon.org/full-or-empty-refrigerator-more-energy-efficient) states that you are unlikely to store enough food to displace enough air to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep it chilled.

So long story short is that I don't know! :)

cumbrian said...

Pays your money and takes your chance.

gotthisfar said...

Hi Bryallen,

You could try putting something in your cistern to reduce the water being used to flush. I got a gift of two of these water bag cistern-inserts:

http://uiscebagga.ie/page1.aspx

I currently have one in the flat I live in at the moment (2nd floor) and it works a treat! Apparently a brick also works, (you can google this to see how it works).

I also stop the water in the shower for shampoo and conditioning :)

kernowyon said...

Like you, I had never thought about the most efficient way to run a fridge. Freezers are always recommended to keep full - even to the point of stuffing spaces with newspapers etc. But I haven't heard anything about fridges.
Fridges have one big disadvantage straight away - the door opens outwards, rather than up and down like a chest freezer. So cold air will pour out when the door is opened, warm air replacing it and then that needs to be cooled...

I guess the best thing is to store the food in such a way as to minimise the time the door is opened and to close the door gently to avoid blasting out more cold air?

Wonder if you could come up with something to screen the fridge once opened - like those plastic strips they use in some commercial cold rooms etc. Something for the inventors to ponder!

cumbrian said...

Get a slow cooker, the little 1.5 lt ones are big enough for 2 people, they'll take a couple of chops or chicken legs or a small joint and cook it very nicely. But not a ham shank, you need a big oval one for them, but you often see these on freecycle or car boots.
I use mine just about every day, main (electric) oven rarely goes on.