How smart tech can help you save money around the home

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Rising household bills remain a concern for many – and those who are entertaining guests over Easter may be using more energy than usual.

While keeping bills down isn’t easy, there may be some simple ways technology can lend a helping hand to save some money around the home.

Gavin Murray, director of British Gas’s smart home expert, Hive, says: “Research we recently conducted shows that nearly a third of Brits are worried about their energy bills, so people will be looking to reduce their energy use and cut costs wherever they can.

“As well as making small changes to your habits at home, clever smart home technology can also help you become more energy-efficient – which is good for your pocket and the planet.”

Here are Murray’s tips for how households can make savings, including by using smart home tech…

1. Be bright with lights

Lighting makes up 11% of average UK household electricity consumption, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

“Being savvy with how you light your home is a good place to start,” says Murray. “As well as simply turning off your lights when you leave the room, it’s worth ensuring all of your bulbs are LED, and switching the ones that aren’t.”

According to the Energy Saving Trust’s website, switching incandescent bulbs to LEDs may potentially save as much as £14 per bulb, per year, based on a 100 watt bulb. “When you think about the number of bulbs in a household, that’s potentially a significant saving,” says Murray.

Smart plugs can also be used for lighting appliances such as lamps.

“These allow you to monitor energy usage and turn the appliance on and off from a mobile app, as well as set schedules,” he says. “So, you can automatically set a lamp to come on during the hours when you know it will be dark, or turn a living room light off if you’ve forgotten after you’ve gone to bed.”

2. Consider a smart thermostat

Smart thermostats enable people to manage their heating and hot water from their phone. Murray says the tech can give people more control and visibility of their energy use.

“For example, you can get alerts if your heating is still on when you leave the house and set energy-saving schedules that work around you – all from your phone,” he says.

Smart radiator valves can also be linked to the smart thermostat, to control the temperature in each room of the property. “This allows you to only heat the rooms that you’re using and be more efficient with your energy usage,” Murray adds.

3. Consider tweaking your routine 

“Making a simple change to when you use appliances and technology such as dishwashers and washing machines is a lesser-known way to save money,” says Murray.

Some schemes may incentivise off-peak energy use, when general demand is lower.

“For example, with British Gas’s PeakSave scheme, customers can sign up to be rewarded for moving electricity use out of peak times, including half-price electricity between 11am to 4pm on Sundays until March 31,” says Murray.

“So, if you’re thinking about when to get on top of your laundry or tackle the washing up, you can do that on a Sunday while earning credit towards your bill or meter.”

4. Choose cooking methods wisely

Around 3% of the average home’s energy use comes from cooking, according to the Energy Saving Trust, so it’s worth considering the appliances being used when planning meals.

Of course, the most suitable appliance will depend on what you’re cooking and for how many people. If you’re preparing a meal for one or two people, the Energy Saving Trust suggests an air fryer may be cheaper to run. To keep costs down, it also suggests trying not to open the compartment more than necessary, to avoid letting out heat and wasting energy.Batch cooking in a full oven and then reheating portions when they are needed in the microwave is another suggestion by the experts.“Ovens are generally bigger than other appliances, so they use more energy to heat up,” says Murray. “This means an electric oven can be the most expensive method for individual portions of food, but represent better value for batch cooking or cooking for a large group.”

5. Get budgeting help

Nearly half (49%) of people don’t set a budget to manage their heating costs, according to research among 2,000 UK adults in January.

Murray says: “However, there is lots of technology to make the task of budgeting much more straightforward, including smart meters. [These] are the new generation of energy meters, which display near real-time information about your energy usage with an equivalent pounds and pence figure.”

The technology can also enable people to see updates on how their energy use compares with their budget.

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