Money & Motoring26th October 2014

Switch on to Switching Off and Save Money

Good discipline around the use of electrical appliances can save you a lot of money

by Sarah Lawrence

If someone knocked on your door and said they wanted give you money for free, would you be interested? The reality is that unless you already concentrate on cutting down on your electricity use, you can save money and become more fuel efficient just by being smarter around your energy use. It’s free money, why not take it.

The average electricity bill each year is £525. The average saving by simply turning items off at night rather than leave them on stand by is £45 to £80, but if that is the average, you might be able to save a lot more. There are two ways you can save on your electricity.

The first is knowing about the efficiency rating on your appliances, especially when you are buying new equipment. The difference between a ‘G’ rated appliance and one that is A+ can be significant, especially as appliances are lasting much longer now.

The second is to adopt fuel-efficient practices in your home, simple things like turning electrical appliances off at night, not leaving fridge doors open, not over-filling the kettle. Individually, the money saved on each item is small, but put it all together and the savings really do add up. In the case of wasted electricity, it really is a case of ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’.

So, when buying electrical appliances, do you understand the EU label that white goods have to display, a label that is there to help you make good choices. Usually carrying a A+++ to G rating now, the basic message is simple – A+++ is super efficient, the G is not.

The problem for us as consumers is that quite often the G rated item, will be cheaper to buy than the A rated ones. We get caught up in buying the cheapest rather the best, often not realising that the additional costs will often far outstrip the initial saving at point of purchase. It would be wrong to call it a con, but we are being duped.

The other problem is that the energy rating label itself is not straightforward. You are not comparing apples with apples if you like. Looking to buy a fridge/freezer, you might find you like two different appliances, each with a A+ rating. They cost the same to run right? Wrong, as ratings are given on a complex calculation. To get the additional comparison information, just go to the annual energy consumption usually just below the colour coded efficiency rating and use the figure to find out which is cheapest to run.

You might think the savings are too small to worry about, but the likelihood is that you will be using these white goods for many years, so the potential savings over 40 years are thousands of pounds, just for making smart choices. Multiply that across the homes in your immediate family and the family savings are definitely worth having.

Choosing appliances carefully is the first money saving tip, watching how you use electricity is the second. Do you know the average cost of boiling a kettle, using an electric oven or ironing. I’ve lost count of how many times I have fancied a cup of tea and boiled the kettle three or four times before I actually get round to making it because my attention was diverted to something else. It’s just wasting money!

The first point to make is that the bigger the electrical appliance, the more it is likely to cost. So, a 50 inch television for example, is going to use more electricity that a smaller one. That means if you have one of the larger TV’s and leave it on when you are not using it, it is going to waste more of your hard earned cash. But what is the average cost of different appliances.

Kettle – 2.5p to boil a full kettle. Not a lot of money but in the average home a kettle is boiled 1,500 times. If you are a big tea/coffee drinker it will be more often than that. It pays to have a hot drink at the same time as other people I your home, and if you are only making a cup for yourself, don’t overfill the kettle. (Average Annual Cost (AAC) - £37.50)

Electric Cooker – On average the spend on cooking for a family of 4 each week is £3. There is limited action you can take to reduce your fuel use, but if you do need to buy a new cooker, make sure to look at the A rated options, it will save you money on the long run (AAC - £155)

Fridge Freezer – Costs vary depending on size and energy rating so the range of cost per day is quite large. A typically quoted average cost is 30p per day. Good habits around minimum temperatures, leaving the door open longer than you need to and not keeping a second empty appliance on when not needed can help save money (AAC - £109.50)

Washing machine – If you do a clothes wash each day, at 50p a time, it’s going to cost you. Add on top the cost of the washing powder/liquid/tablet and the pounds quickly mount up. Most people don’t bother to learn about the different programmes a washing machine offers and that often ends up with longer programmes being used. If your habit is not to put in a full load, annual cost goes up even further. (AAC - £182.50)

Games Console – the children wont think of how much electricity they are using when playing the latest FIFA, Call of Duty or Minecraft games, but you should. Children can rack up the hours very easily and at 7p per hour per console, the cost of gaming is not limited to the initial purchase or the games. Based on 2 children playing an average of 2 hours a day (AAC  - £102.20)

Television – How much of a couch potato are you, well at 2p per hour, take a moment to think of the costs involved. Based on one television being on for 10 hours a day (AAC - £73).

Most of us have bad habits, so whilst the stand by cost is less than when an appliance is on, it is still a drain on our electricity. That little red light is powered by something!! A typical household which doesn’t have an easy way to turn appliances off at night might easily leave on stand-by 2 television (downstairs and the bedroom), a computer, Sky Box, DVD, Mobile Phone(s), Tablet(s), games console and more. Switch on to Switching Off, it will save you money.

If turning appliances off instead of having them on standby will save you £45 to £80 on ‘average’, your savings with smarter purchases and more efficient daily practices will save you a lot more. Can you afford not too!!

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Deaf Lifestyle / Money & Motoring

26th October 2014