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Tuesday 19 February 2019

Your Money: Cut the cost of those Jingle bills

The festive season sees energy use soar but we can save power and money

Let it glow: Celebrating the holidays can see our usage spike
Let it glow: Celebrating the holidays can see our usage spike
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

If you're one of those households with Christmas lights on inside and out, not to mention the flashing reindeer, glow-in-the-dark Santa, and the shower on 24/7 with all the house-guests, you're probably dreading the arrival of your electricity bill in January.

At the moment, it all seems like a good cause - you'll deal with the energy headache when you have to, but while you're busy thinking of new year resolutions, saving a few bob while saving the planet could be one of them.

Research from energy comparison website Bonkers.ie shows that households could save over €550 on their annual bills just by making some small changes over Christmas. Indeed, many of them are so tiny and easily implemented you won't even notice the difference, except in your bank account.

Almost every one of our energy suppliers has hiked its prices during 2018, adding around €300 to the average household bill. Not even jolly old Santa Claus can fix that one. So, at the risk of being un-festive, here are some simple ways to cut down on the financial pain next month:

Light Bulb Moment

LED light bulbs use around 80pc less energy than halogens. The average household has 15 of them, so switching makes a lot of sense. Just one bulb saves €7 in running costs every year.

Cooking Clever

Apart from the tumble dryer, your electric oven uses the most power. Getting into the habit of switching it off 5 or 10 minutes early and allowing the residual heat to finish your cooking can save up to €20 a year.

Appliance of Science

Similarly, 90pc of the energy of a washing machine goes on just heating the water. This is such a waste as modern machines can wash at much lower temperatures with good detergents, so turn the dial down to 30 degrees for clothes. They'll be just as clean.

The fridge, too, gets a real workout at this time of year, but remember that for every 10-20 seconds the door is open, it takes 45 minutes for it to re-cool back to its original temperature, according to the SEAI. So a bit of kitchen discipline (or a door lock) will help! Defrosting the freezer every 6 months helps it cool more efficiently.

Baby it's cold outside

But that's no reason to waste energy inside. Most homes are perfectly comfortable at 19 degrees, but we have a terrible habit of jacking up the heat until it's too hot and then turning it off, repeating the cycle over and over. Turning the thermostat down by just one degree and keeping it constant could save a whopping €150 per year.

If you live just in one or two rooms, consider an electric or oil heater instead of your central heating. Look for A-rated efficiency, costing around 30c per hour to run.

The DeVielle 7 is €59.99 from Woodies DIY and comes in three temperature settings. The 9-Fin 1kw heater from Lenehans.ie is €39.95.

Double Vision

Can't afford double-glazing? Buy insulating window film which you install yourself (with a hairdryer!), costing from €5.95 (+p&p) per 1.8m from www.purchase.ie, there's also a handy video guide to installation.

Pull the Plug

Save around €50 a year by switching off all your appliances when you go to bed. As well as being safer, not keeping things on 'standby' means not wasting 'vampire' energy during the night, which uses around 15pc of all costs.

Irish Independent

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