January must be one of the most unpopular months of the year: cold, dark and boring now Christmas has gone – along with the early December payday which makes the first month of the year seem longer than ever.
Instead of struggling to stick to New Year’s resolutions and avoid the blues, January is a great time to get ahead and make changes which can save you money all year round.
Property expert Jonathan Rolande is one of the country’s leading specialists on energy saving tips.
He said: “As tough as things continue to be, there are changes you can make in the home which cost nothing or very little, but which can add up to massive savings all year round.”
Here, Jonathan, the founder of House Buy Fast, shares some great, simple energy saving tips to help you keep your cash in your wallet without feeling the chill.
1. Fix those draughts.
It might seem obvious, but you wouldn’t use a bucket with a hole in it, so why would you have windows and doors which allow the heat to escape?
Gaps and cracks cost the average home £60 a year and can easily be fixed with cheap insulation tape or with draught excluders. These are easily made from scraps of fabric and can be coordinated with other fabrics in your room such as cushions and curtains. And they aren’t just for doors – a draught excluder works just as well with a window.
But curtains themselves aren’t just for privacy; a good pair of curtains can help keep draughts at bay and keep warmth in the room.
Another area where you could be losing heat is through the floor. Floorboards could be costing you a small fortune when it comes to energy bills.
The easiest – and cheapest – way to insulate floors is by popping a big rug down on the floor. You can get a decent rug cheaply in the January sales and bring a bit of colour and texture to your room whilst helping reduce energy use.
2. Turn the thermostat down by one degree
You might not think such a small change would have a big impact, but the Energy Saving Trust say that turning your thermostat down from 20C to 19C can cut your heating bill by a massive 10%. That one single degree isn’t something you’ll probably notice in terms of comfort, but you will when you see the money you’ve saved in your bills. But it is important to keep your home warm, particularly if you are or live with someone who is elderly, vulnerable or has a health condition. Leading GP Dr Jay Verma recommends a minimum temperature of 18C and says it is better to keep a constant temperature than have peaks and troughs as it takes longer for elderly people to feel the effects of heating.
3. Don’t boil what you don’t need
It wouldn’t be Britain without a cup of tea but constantly boiling full kettles can leave you short. Kettles are one of the most used appliances in the kitchen but most of us admit we boil the kettle with more water than we are going to use. Not overfilling the kettle can save you £11 a year on your electricity bill. The Royal College of Occupational Therapists also recommend a travel kettle not only ensures you only boil what you need, but is easier for older people who have lost strength to use.
4. Defrost before you cook
Staying in the kitchen, ovens can be the biggest use of energy particularly if you use it for one off bakes rather than cooking as much in one go to make maximum use of space and heat. But if you’re planning on using frozen food, defrost it before you cook to significantly reduce the time needed to cook and avoid the additional cost of a microwave. If you’re looking for something to do to fill the grey January hours, get defrosting that freezer (and cleaning behind it) so it doesn’t use more energy than necessary.
5. Turn off appliances – including the TV
‘Vampire’ electronics which suck up your money by using energy whilst they are on standby are a no brainer if you want to cut your bills. British Gas estimate that leaving these devices, like TVs and set top boxes on standby, cost the average household £147 a year. The most costly appliance to leave on stand by is the TV, costing £24.61 a year but perhaps the most surprising is the microwave which is estimated to cost £16.31 a year for the 23 hours a day it is left standing idle.