Consumer group offers tips to save energy and money amid cost-of-living crisis

·4-min read

The average costs of running household appliances will surge, a consumer group has warned, as people face huge spikes in their energy bills this winter.

The energy price cap is due to rise 80% in October, after the regulator, Ofgem, said the average household’s yearly bill can be raised from £1,971 to £3,549.

However, consumer group Which? has suggested a number of tips to help households cope, including simple tricks with appliances that could make a difference:

– Reduce washing machine costs

The average cost to run a washing machine yearly will rise from just over £63 to more than £117 under the new energy price cap. Which? suggests lowering costs by waiting until you can fill the machine to about 80% capacity, rather than repeatedly washing smaller loads.

If clothes are not stained, then consider washing at 30C, as it will cut energy usage by 38% on average compared with a 40C wash, while a 20C wash will use 62% less energy.

– Cut tumble dryer costs

Which?’s calculations found the cost of an average heat pump tumble dryer will increase from £56 to £104 a year, whereas condenser tumble dryers require more power, and the cost will jump up from £140 to £260 a year after the new price cap comes into force.

The easiest way to save is to reconsider how you can dry laundry effectively, for example, hanging washing outside on a clothesline or on an airer. However, be aware of damp and mould which may be caused by drying laundry inside frequently and make sure you open windows.

– Use your dishwasher properly to save money

The average annual running cost for a full-size dishwasher will rise from £83 to £153, and for a slimline model it will cost £136, up from £73.

Which? suggests ensuring the dishwasher is not over or under filled, to wash full loads instead of running it for a few items and to run it on an eco-setting. While washing up by hand may seem like a cheaper option, handwashing uses more water than a dishwasher.

Energy review
Smart heating controls can cut your bills and improve your comfort by making better use of heating energy, says Which? (Andrew Matthews/PA)

– Fridge freezers

Average integrated fridge freezers currently cost around £73 a year to run and this will rise to £136 in October. However, American models cost between £84 and £120 to run, which will increase to £155 and £222 a year.

To ensure your fridge freezer is running as efficiently as possible, Which? suggests cleaning the condenser coils on the back as dust on the coils can prevent the fridge from cooling properly.

If you have damaged door seals, it is important to replace them so that cold air cannot escape, and ensure that food is cooled down properly before refrigerating.

– Ovens

A built-in electric oven costs £66 a year to run which will rise to £122 following the price cap rise, while a single gas oven costs £20 and will rise to £43.

It is possible to reduce costs by cooking larger amounts of food at a time and eating them as meals spread across the week, rather than running the oven every day. You can defrost frozen food in the fridge in advance so your oven does not have to work as hard to cook it, Which? said.

Smaller items such as air fryers or combi microwaves might be more cost efficient than ovens for cooking smaller items.

– Install 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 could cut a home’s carbon emissions by 320kg a year.

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.”

– Find out if you could get energy grants

The Warm Home Discount is available to pensioners and those who get certain benefits. It is £140, but increasing to £150 in October 2022.

Those born before 26 September 1955 can claim a Winter Fuel Payment of £100 to £300 every winter and energy companies also have their own hardship funds.