The experts at energyhelpline.com asked the British public about energy-saving habits around the home in an effort to debunk some of the myths and arm the nation with the best ways to save.
While some of the nation’s most common energy-saving tips are effective, there are some more questionable beliefs, for example, nearly a quarter (22%) believe that putting cling film or duct tape around windows can save energy or reduce energy costs. Just under one in ten (9%) believe putting tin foil in the loft can help, while 6% believe that painting radiators black can help by retaining heat.
When asked which of these energy-saving tips they actually do around the home, nearly one in five (17%) said they go as far as installing carpets in every room to conserve as much heat as possible, with one in eight (13%) stating they put reflective panels behind radiators to better warm their homes.
Consumer champion, Tashema Jackson, at the comparison and switching service, has assessed the UK’s most common energy-saving tips and tricks to separate the facts from the myths.
Should I put reflective panels behind my radiator?
Reflective panels can work to conserve energy by bouncing heat back into the room, however, this only really works for external walls as they prevent heat from escaping outside. If you live in a semi-detached or terrace house, you’ll see little improvement by putting reflective panels behind radiators on internal walls, or walls that you share with the neighbouring house.
If you do decide to install reflective panels, it’s important to use a purpose-built product that you can buy from a DIY shop. Placing materials such as plastic on a radiator can be dangerous since they run the risk of melting and burning.
Will installing a smart meter save energy or reduce costs?
It will not in itself save energy or reduce costs. However, by having a smart meter installed you see how much energy you’re using and therefore identify how to lower your usage by changing day-to-day behaviour.
Should I turn off the hot water when I’m not using it?
There really isn’t any saving to be had by turning your hot water on and off. It’s better to make sure that your boiler tank has a good insulating jacket so that the water doesn’t require reheating.
For those on an Economy 7 tariff where energy is cheaper at night, you can make some savings by setting your water heater to come on at night for use during the day.
Is it cheaper to wash my clothes at night?
Again, this is one where it depends on the type of tariff you have. If you are on an Economy 7 or Economy 10 tariff it will be cheaper since you’ll pay less for your energy at night. But for most of us, running the washing machine at night doesn’t make any difference to the cost or the amount of energy used.
Will I save energy by installing carpets in every room?
Yes. Carpets are a very effective way of insulating your home and the better insulated your home, the fewer heat escapes and therefore it takes less energy to keep your home warm.
While installing carpet in every room would help your home stay warmer, it’s probably best to stick to carpeting rooms you spend a lot of time in. Most likely, bedrooms or living rooms are best since nobody wants to clean food from a carpet in the kitchen after cooking dinner.
Should I leave the heat on low all day instead of on high for a short time?
This is a very common myth as it takes a lot of energy to keep your radiators warm all day. It’s best to only heat your home when you’re there to feel the benefit. Many have the option to programme the central heating to come on and turn off at certain times. Try setting the heating to come on half an hour before you normally wake up so you don’t have to dread pulling off your bedsheets.
Can wedging a sponge in the letterbox or cling film around the windows help?
While it’s a little on the extreme side, these can actually help save energy by conserving heat, stopping it from escaping outside. The cling film acts as a protective layer and the sponge blocks gaps where heat might escape through the door.
Draught-proofing your home is a very simple way to minimise energy consumption as a warmer home decreases the likelihood of you reaching for the thermostat, and can be achieved without reaching for items more suited to the kitchen.
Should I paint my radiators black?
There is no evidence to suggest that the colour of your radiator affects the heat output. To get the most out of your radiators, avoid placing large furnishings such as a bed or sofa directly in front, as this will likely absorb the heat and you’ll find it takes longer to heat your home.