10 common myths draining your gas and electricity

Posted 07/11/2018 by E.ON

Is it worth having solar panels in the UK? Is most of the heat in your home lost through the windows? Are electric lawn mowers more expensive to run than petrol mowers? We investigate the commonly held views that people think are saving them energy (and money) to reveal all the different misconceptions we have in the home. With expert advice from our Green Guru Mike Feely, follow our tips and tricks to see how you could save £100s on your gas and electricity bill.

 

1. “Leaving chargers plugged in at the wall won’t use any power if they’re not charging anything.”
It’s a common misconception that if there’s no phone attached to a charger, then no energy is being produced. But any plugged-in device still uses a very small amount of electricity if it’s left switched on at the socket. And while one charger might be just adding a miniscule blip onto your energy usage, lots of tiny blips can soon become one big one. In fact, it’s estimated that the average home could save around £30 a year just by making sure that appliances are switched off when they’re not in use. What’s that phrase about looking after your pennies?

2. “There isn’t enough sunshine in the UK to make use of solar panels.”
Contrary to popular belief, solar panels don’t get power from the sun. They actually harness the natural energy of daylight, of which the UK has more than enough for them to work effectively - even in winter. Depending on your location and the size of your property, solar panels could shave between £85 and £220 off your annual electricity bill.

If you’re considering taking the plunge and creating your own energy (hooray for the environment and your bills), you might also want to look into home batteries. Excess power generated by solar panels is usually sent to the grid, but these energy-storage systems allow you to keep the electricity you’ve created within your own property. Perfect for when the evenings are closing in quicker and less daylight is available.

3. “It’s cheaper to keep turning my heating on and off in short bursts than lowering it.”
Keeping a constant temperature in your home will use less energy than heating it up from cold multiple times. But for a more marked difference, simply lowering your thermostat by 1°C could save you around £75 per year.

Installing a smart thermostat such as tado° can give you a lot more control over your heating, which could result in significant savings on your energy bills. This state of the art technology uses your smartphone to provide a simple view of your home’s temperature, allowing you to adjust the temperature wherever you are.

“Smart thermostats can do more than simply heat your home in winter,” says E.ON’s Green Guru, Mike Feely. “They can also play a useful role in summer. Smart thermostats such as tado° can adapt to the local weather forecast to make the most of the natural heat on a sunny day, meaning that you save energy.”

4. “Putting a little pan on a big burner on the hob will heat it up quicker, so must use less energy.”
The size of your pan should always match that of the hob you use – otherwise you’re wasting energy from the heat escaping around it. Cooking amounts to around 4% of gas and electricity bills on average, so simply switching surfaces could save you a surprising amount of money.

If you’re choosing which kind of stove to install in your home, gas hobs use less energy and so are typically cheaper to run (around £16 a year) than electric ones (around £50 a year). But if you’d prefer an electric model, a modern induction hob offers greater control over heating and energy use, cutting about £15 off typical costs.

5. “Reheating my food in the oven rather than the microwave will cost less.”
Amazingly, reheating that meal in the microwave uses 50% less energy than using the oven. In fact, it’s estimated that most households could save up to £60 a year by zapping their food instead of using hobs or ovens. Of course, eating your meal while it’s hot the first time around will stop you from using more energy – and it’ll taste a lot nicer too.

6. “My boiler might be old but it works just fine.”
If you’re serious about savin
g money and energy, then your boiler is the first point to scrutinise. With heating accounting for around 55% of your annual electricity costs, this is where the big savings can lie. 

Remarkably, a third of homes in England have an old and inefficient boiler1. By installing a new condensing model, which loses much less heat, you could save up to £305 on your annual energy bill. If you’re considering replacing your old boiler, we can do it all for you within five working days.

“The best time to service or replace your boiler is when you’re not relying on it as much,” says E.ON’s Green Guru, Mike Feely. “So summer is the perfect time to take action.”

7. “Screensavers save energy while the computer is on standby.”
Many people assume that a computer in ‘standby’ or ‘sleep’ mode doesn’t use power. Not so! As with chargers and other plugged-in devices, there’s still a certain amount of energy that goes into the convenience of switching it on again with the click of a mouse.

Leaving your computer on overnight every night, even if the screensaver is on, could cost you up to £62.82 a year in annual bills. Given that 88% of UK homes have a desktop computer, if everyone did this every night for a year, that’s a total cost of £1.5 billion – a staggering amount of wasted money, all for the sake of shutting down your PC.

8. “Most of the heat in my home is lost through the windows.”
Nope, this one isn’t true either. Up to 35% of heat can be lost through uninsulated walls, compared to just 10% through windows. So while you could save up to £115 by installing double glazing, insulating your walls with cavity wall insulation could more than double that figure, depending on the size of your property. Of course, doing both would give you the benefits of both energy-saving measures.

E.ON’s Green Guru, Mike Feely says: “When insulating a home, it’s important to consult an insulation professional to check that you’re using the correct solution for your property as different walls have varying requirements.” 

9. “My loft is already insulated - that's enough"

A typical home can lose up to a quarter of its heat through the roof, and regular loft insulation may not be enough. If you have a loft, you should make sure to insulate any pipes and water tanks to prevent them from freezing in the winter. Placing draught-excluding material around the edges of the hatch will also help to prevent draughts and heat loss.

E.ON’s Green Guru, Mike Feely, says: “UK building regulations state that lofts should have insulation that’s 270mm thick in England and Wales, and 300mm in Scotland.”

10. “Electric lawn mowers are more expensive to run than petrol mowers.”
When it comes to classic inventions like the lawnmower, surely simpler is better – right? While an electric lawnmower might sound more like a flashy purchase to impress the neighbours, it will likely save you much more (and create zero emissions) in the long run.

While the initial cost might be higher, the average lawn-owner can expect to spend as little as 65p a year using an electric lawnmower, while its petrol counterpart could cost up to £9.80. These might sound like relatively small figures, but factor in the cost of driving to buy the fuel for your petrol lawnmower, as well as the environmental cost of CO2 emissions, and consider the impact across the population. Our verdict? Whoever invented the electric lawnmower was a bright spark.

Could you save £100s on your gas and electricity bill?
Just a few simple switches could shed £100s off your gas and electricity bill each year, so then all you have to do is choose how to spend it. Start by finding out if you could save money on your tariff now

1Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Heat in Buildings, October 2017 report.

 

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