Family finance: Flick the switch for electricity bill savings

John Lowe

Most of us by now will have made the big switch, switching from ESB to Bord Gais (Lucy Kennedy left, who fronted a recent campaign), Airtricity or even Flogas.

Well done -- you have saved between 10 and 16pc of your normal electricity bill. However, what other actions can we take to economise and help the family budget? We all need to save where we can.

Here are 12 money-saving ways to reduce your electricity bill -- it's not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's learning to dance in the rain.

1> Changing your bulbs to CFLs -- this will save you up to 20pc of your annual bills. They may not look as pretty, but they will put money back in your pocket.

2> Only use washing machines and dishwashers with full loads -- like your dustbin, it will pay you to optimise the load.

3> Never have the immersion on at the same time as the central heating -- the immersion should only be used during the summer or when you do not need your central heating. The immersion is like a kettle, it should be switched off when you have heated the water.

4> Use timers and dimmers for light switches and for those washing loads at night; heavy sleepers never hear the din but count the money!

5> Use nightlights, especially in the bathroom. They are cheap to run.

6> Avoid peak-time use as much as possible (between 5pm and 7pm).

7> Turn off all lights in rooms not being used. Children especially should be encouraged to turn off lights, especially in their own bedrooms when they leave for school on winter mornings. Minimise lighting where you can.

Think of using candles -- it's more romantic!

8> Only boil enough water in a kettle for your immediate needs. There is no need to put on a full kettle when you only want a cup of tea for yourself.

9> Take short showers and, if bathing, have all the family use the same water, but not if one has just returned from a filthy rugby match.

10> Ensure your fridge and freezer are full. If you cannot fill it, place jugs of water inside. It is cheaper to run a full freezer than an empty one.

11> In summer, use the clothes line to air your washing. Only use that expensive tumble dryer off-peak and preferably at night-time rates.

12> Switch off all electronic equipment -- leaving them on "stand-by" uses 20pc of the normal output. Hopefully, the above will have turned you on to savings.