As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, many households are worried about the impact of rising energy prices and face financial struggles this winter. The new energy price cap is set to push bills up by 80 per cent from 1 October for those on variable energy tariffs.
Which? has found that consumers can save significantly on appliance running costs around the home.
Find out if you could get energy grants or free cash
Energy schemes and grants are available to help pay your energy bills or to support you with the costs of renewable heating. The Warm Home Discount is available to pensioners and those who get certain benefits (£140 increasing to £150 in October 2022). Those born before 26 September 1955 can claim Winter Fuel Payment of £100 – £300 per winter. Check helpforhouseholds.campaign.
Reduce washing machine costs
Under the new energy price cap, average annual washing machine running costs will increase from just over £63 to more than £117. You can lower costs by avoiding running the machine repeatedly for small loads. It’s better to wait until you can fill the machine to about 80 per cent full. Unless clothes are stained, consider washing at 30°C, which will cut energy use by 38 per cent on average compared to a 40°C wash, and a 20°C wash will use 62 per cent less energy.
Cut tumble dryer costs
Which?’s calculations found that average heat pump tumble dryer running costs will increase from £56 to £104 per year. Condenser tumble dryers are the most energy-hungry and average running costs are already £140 – between two and three times higher than for a heat pump model – and will go up to £260 per year after the new price cap has taken effect.
The easiest way to save here is to consider other ways of drying laundry, such as hanging outdoors if you have access to an outdoor clothesline, or on an airer. However, keep an eye out for signs of damp or mould caused by frequently drying laundry indoors and open windows where possible. If you do need to use a tumble dryer, be sure to clean the lint filter every time you use it to help your dryer run as efficiently as possible and reduce the risk of fire.
Use your dishwasher correctly to save
The average running cost for a full-size dishwasher will rise from £83 to £153. For a slimline model, you’ll be paying on average £136, up from £73. The best way to save is to ensure you’re not over or under-filling the dishwasher. Wash full loads rather than running it for just a few items. Be sure to arrange items properly to allow water and detergent to circulate around them and check you’re using the right dishwasher program for how dirty they are. Most dishwashers also come with an eco setting. Washing up by hand might seem like a cheaper option, but handwashing uses much more water than a dishwasher.
The average integrated fridge freezer currently costs £73 to run, which will rise to £136 in October. Freestanding and American models cost £84 and £120 respectively to run, which will increase to £155 and £222 a year from October.
To ensure your fridge freezer is running as efficiently as possible, clean the condenser coils on the back, as dust on the coils can prevent the fridge from cooling properly. Replace damaged door seals to ensure cold air cannot escape and be wasted and let food cool down completely before refrigerating.
Built-in ovens don’t cost as much to run as other key appliances, but it still pays to use yours efficiently. On average, a built-in single electric oven costs £66 per year to run, which will rise to £122, while a single gas oven costs £20 which will rise to £43.
It is possible to reduce costs by bulk cooking – cook larger amounts of food at a time, and eat them as meals spread across the week, rather than running the oven every day. Defrost frozen food in advance in the fridge, so that your oven isn’t having to work harder for longer to get it to the point that it’s ready to be cooked. Smaller appliances, such as air fryers or combi microwaves, might be more efficient than ovens for cooking small items.
Install and use central heating controls
Smart heating controls can cut your bills and improve your comfort by making better use of the heating energy you pay for. Which? estimates that a medium-sized household could save at least £100 a year by using smart controls and cut the home’s carbon emissions by 320kg per year. Savings can also be much higher, but it depends on the efficiency of your central heating as well as how you were heating your home before using a smart thermostat. When using a smart thermostat, Which? recommends using zonal heating controls with radiator valves to vary the heating and schedule of different rooms.
Emily Seymour, Which? Energy Editor, said:
“Huge energy bill hikes are a cause of real concern for millions of households across the country, especially when many are already feeling the pressures of the cost of living crisis.
“If you are worried about your current energy consumption there are things you can do to cut costs, such as choosing energy-efficient appliances and making use of heating and hot water controls. You could also get further help by checking if you’re eligible for grant schemes and other support.”
Notes to editors
Over the coming months, Which? is highlighting free and useful money-saving advice every Monday to help consumers manage the ongoing cost of living crisis.
All figures on the average running costs of appliances are an average across all of the models Which? has tested in these categories.
While switching to a cheaper energy deal is usually the best way to save money, surging wholesale gas prices have slashed the number of competitive deals on the market – so for most consumers, staying put on a deal that has some protection through the price cap is likely to be the best option for now. While there aren’t many good deals available for switching at the moment, consumers can use Which? Switch to compare suppliers and keep tabs on more competitive tariffs emerging.
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