People all over the UK are battling the current cost of living crisis, with rising energy costs presenting one of the biggest challenges experienced for decades.
The domestic energy price cap increased in April from its annual level of £1,277 to £1,971 – a massive rise of 54%. According to research, this has left 40% of British households in “fuel poverty” when they simply can’t afford to pay their bill.
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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has driven energy prices even higher. Between January 2021 and January 2022, the price of domestic gas had already risen by 28%; electricity by 19%. As well as the war causing a major humanitarian crisis, it has also had a negative impact on the world’s economy.
Inflation in the UK hit 7% in March, increasing from 6.2% in February, with the increases in energy bills cited as a major cause. Economists fear inflation could reach a record 10% by the end of 2022 if the situation continues. The price rises are causing incredible stress for householders.
Turning off the central heating
With summer approaching, this is a good time to start saving money on energy costs during the warmer months. The obvious way of doing so is by turning off the central heating. Turning on the heating only as and when needed is the best way to save money.
In winter, on average, central heating accounts for 55% of a household’s energy bills. A thermostat with a timer is an effective way to control the heating, making sure you turn on the water heater just when you need it. Experts advise you should think about turning your central heating off when the clocks go forward in spring.
Cost of air conditioning
When you turn your heating off, don’t waste the energy savings by over-using the air conditioning to keep cool. One-third of Brits admit they have no idea how much expense air conditioning adds to their energy bills. In the summer heatwave of 2018, a massive 40% of UK residents upgraded their air conditioning systems, according to surveys. Energy use nationwide just for summer air conditioning that year amounted to 224 billion kWh! This is the equivalent of powering more than 72,000 average-sized houses for one year.
The average air conditioning unit uses 16,200 watts over a ten-hour period. This means if you use it to excess in June, July and August, you can add hundreds of pounds to already high bills. Don’t use it 24/7 unless you’re prepared for a shock when the electricity bill arrives!
Try keeping the curtains or blinds closed during the hot days to keep the sun out and use the air conditioning for a couple of hours before you go to bed if your room feels hot. Open the windows at night and leave the bedroom door open to let a draught pass through.
Using electric fans
During the same summer, searches online for electric fans rocketed by 140% as people struggled to keep cool. Many high street shops had sold out altogether. Sales were twice as high as during the same period in 2017.
Four-fifths of fan owners said they kept their fans on all the time, including overnight as they slept. The total energy use for electric fans UK-wide in the summer of 2018 was 723 million kWh. This would power 233,443 average-size homes for 12 months.
One small desk fan with a wattage of around 25 to 75 watts costs about £1 a day, not including using it overnight. While this might not sound a lot, if you have a fan in every room, or in hot zones like the kitchen, you can soon run up bigger bills.
For example, using five fans would cost £5 a day, equating to £35 a week. Throughout June, July and August, this would increase your summer quarter bill by around £420. It’s still cheaper to use a fan than to use air conditioning.
One feature of a typical British summer is a good old BBQ in the garden. However, when you cook on an electric barbecue, it can soon increase your energy use. In summer, sales of barbecues increase by an average of 67%. An electric BBQ uses around 1,560 watts of power when used for 1.5 hours per day.
A gas BBQ is a popular choice, as it doesn’t add to your utility bills, because it’s powered by natural gas or propane in canisters. It is as convenient as an electric barbecue and produces a hot, strong flame that cooks the food well. However, you still have to buy the gas and make sure you have enough to last.
The best choice in terms of money-saving is an old-fashioned charcoal BBQ, as it isn’t using any power source from your home. People who cook al fresco in the garden using charcoal can make massive energy savings by not using their oven and hob. Nationwide, this saves 430 million kWh of electricity – enough to power 130,000 average-size homes for a year.
Energy bills hype
It’s a fact that many households eat up more electricity than we might realise from using everything from fans to electric BBQs. However, in today’s gloomy climate, don’t let the hype filling our media channels ruin the summer. Life is for living!
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