Energy saving tips: Fact or Fiction?

Energy saving tips: Fact or Fiction?

By: Shell Energy

25 Jan 2021

Whether you call them myths, old wives’ tales or urban legends, we all love a good story. Unless it relates to false claims about our energy consumption, that is. When it comes to saving money on energy, we want facts.

Keeping on top of our energy bills is a priority for many of us, especially during winter months when we tend to use more energy to heat our homes. The information we receive about energy should be helpful and avoid telling us things like “it costs more to run the fridge when it’s full.”

So if you’re looking to separate energy-saving facts from fiction, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re doing a spot of myth-busting that will help you save energy around the home, no matter your energy tariff.

Fact: leaving a charger plugged in uses electricity

Your charger still uses electricity even when it isn’t providing juice to your fully-charged smartphone, if you leave it plugged in. According to the Energy Saving Trust, a plugged-in charger uses electricity and therefore still affects your energy bill. You might want to think about turning the plug off next time your phone has finished its charge.

Fiction: heat is mostly lost through the windows

Maybe it’s because we can see through the windows. Or perhaps it’s because glass isn’t as robust as a wall. But many people believe that windows are the primary source for losing heat. The truth is that, while windows (especially if they’re single glazed) can make it harder to keep heat in a home, more heat is lost through walls. In fact, walls account for almost a third of all heat loss in houses.

Properly insulating your home’s walls is an effective way to keep heat inside your home, but even more so when you consider your windows too. Energy efficient glazing on windows will result in fewer draughts and cold spots, reduced condensation build up, and more peace and quiet as window insulation can help reduce external noise.

Fact: it may be cheaper to run a washing machine at night

If you find yourself on a special time-of-use energy tariff, then yes, it’s cheaper to run your washing machine at night. This is because tariffs such as Economy 7 provide more affordable power in the evenings. If you’re on another energy tariff, running your washing machine will cost the same at night as it does during the day.

Fiction: computers use less energy when they’re in “screen saving mode”

If you’re always putting your computer into screen-saving mode to save a few pennies on your energy bill, we’ve got some bad news for you. Many believe screensavers to be a cost-cutting measure, but a computer, or any device, will still use energy regardless of the mode that it’s set to, as long as it’s plugged into the wall. You could save around £35 a year by turning off appliances on standby mode and unplugging them when not in use.

And when it comes to computers, laptops typically use 85% less electricity over a year than desktop PCs, saving you up to £17 a year. If you’re working from home and spending extended periods of time working on your computer, a laptop could be a more energy efficient option.

Fact: closing the door saves heat 

While smart meters are a great way to help you better understand and manage your energy usage, there are still some non-tech ways to save heat around the home. And one of them is the simplest of all: keeping the door closed. Closing the door to a room will prevent cold air from moving around the rest of the house while keeping the heat in the room.

Fiction: turning the heat up warms the house faster

We’ve all been there before: you’re feeling chilly, so you head over to the thermostat and crank the heat up to get the place feeling nice and toasty. Unfortunately, even putting the heat to its maximum temperature won’t warm your house up any faster. Thermostats are designed to keep your home at a steady temperature, so even if you turn it up to a higher temperature, it will take the same amount of time to reach it.

Fact: curtains and blinds can save energy

Considering it gets darker earlier in the winter, pulling your curtains closed seems like a great excuse to keep the heat in and save on your overall energy bill. What’s more, drawing the curtains or pulling down the blinds at dusk can reduce heat loss by around 13-17%. So the next time you consider turning the heating up in the evening, make sure that all the blinds and curtains are closed.

Fiction: filling your loft up with boxes insulated your home

If only we could insulate our homes with a few cardboard boxes. Unfortunately, if it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it probably is. Now, filling your loft up with boxes can have a marginal effect on keeping the heat in, but it’s so minimal that you probably won’t notice the difference. A quarter of heat is lost through the roof in an uninsulated home, and there’s no substitute for having a properly insulated loft, which acts as the most robust form of insulation and heat storage.

Fact: tin foil behind radiators keeps the heat in

Tinfoil hats might not shield your brain from mind control or some other out-of-this-world theory. But the use of tin foil can keep heat in your home. Heat reflective aluminium foil placed behind a radiator – especially one attached to an external wall – can prevent heat disappearing through the walls by reflecting it back into the room. If you’re willing to spend a bit more, radiator reflector panels are another good, low cost option to reduce your energy consumption, and placing them behind radiators on external walls could save you around £19 a year.

Keep on top of your energy bills this winter

We’ve got a list of helpful resources, including advice from trusted partners to support you in managing your usage and bills, and a few quick and easy-to-follow energy saving tips you can implement at home to make sure you stay in control of your energy bills this winter.