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Guide to energy efficient devices

7th May, 2020

The devices that you use around the home can have a real impact on your energy bill. By using energy efficient devices you can reduce both your electricity spend and your carbon footprint. We’ve put together a guide to some of the best ways to save money by switching your tech.

Energy efficient light bulbs

An estimated 15% of your household electricity bill is spent on lighting. Light bulbs may be small but we use so many of them so regularly that their energy consumption adds up. The trick to making them more efficient is to get a better ratio of light to heat. The less energy is wasted as heat, the less you’ll have to pay to keep your lights on.

We’ve already covered energy efficient light bulbs in an earlier guide but we’ve listed the key points here. There is a clear difference in electricity cost between the three main light bulb options: halogen, CFL and LED. This difference becomes even more pronounced over a number of years.

There is a stark difference when you compare the costs of buying and running different bulbs over the course of a typical LED’s lifespan. In that 25 year period, you’ll spend an estimated £250 on halogens, £75 on CFLs, and £55 on LEDs.

Switching a house full of halogen bulbs to LED bulbs will allow you to see reductions in your electricity bill within the year. The difference in unit cost will be offset by energy savings in a matter of months. LEDs may not feel like cutting edge tech anymore but they remain one of the most energy efficient devices out there.

Save even more with smart heating devices

Another big energy guzzler is your heating system. Mains central heating is the cheapest way to heat the home for most houses but even this is costly over a 12 month period. Alternative fuel sources are even worse, with electricity the most expensive of them all. Thankfully, heating is one industry that has been transformed by the innovation of smart, energy efficient technology.

Smart thermostats

Since their emergence a few years ago, smart home thermostats have become increasingly common. They’re popular because they work. Installing a smart home thermostat makes it much easier to control your heating. The ability to turn heating off at any point means it never has to be on when it’s not needed.

Smart thermostats are easy to install because they piggyback on an existing thermostat and boiler system (assuming the smart model is compatible). You then install an app on your phone to gain full control over the whole system. It’s possible to go even further with fully connected smart electric heaters but these are less useful for homes with central heating.

As well as allowing you to set the temperature of the house at will, smart heaters will also learn your behaviour to manage your heating more efficiently without you needing to do anything. They can make sure your home is heated for when you get back from work and cool when you’re sleeping or absent. It’s amazing how much these small savings can add up.

Smart heaters

Electric heaters are notoriously expensive to run. It was almost inevitable that someone would come up with a more efficient way to run them. Smart storage heaters are arguably the most effective of these innovations.

Traditional storage heaters afford very little control over how and when their heat is released. Smart storage heaters utilise a much better insulatory shell and an app-based control system to allow heat to be released as and when it’s needed. This means that energy isn’t wasted when you don’t need the heat. In conjunction with an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, this can be a great way to save money on electric heating.

Read our in-depth guide for more information on home heating.

Make your existing devices more efficient

Many devices on the market that promise to save you money will only shave pence off your energy bill. The devices that are most effective are often those that help you save energy on the things that you use every day.

Energy saving plugs are a good example. They can be used with device chargers to ensure that energy is not being used when the device no longer needs to charge. Modern smart chargers (like those that come with many smartphones) already have this capability but other chargers won’t. If you use a laptop or other devices a lot an energy saving plug could be a worthwhile investment.

Another charging tip is to use lower wattage chargers where possible. Though these take longer to charge they still use consume less energy to get your phone to 100%. A case in point is the super charger for the iPhone X, with the difference in price between the 5W and 29W chargers shown in the chart below:

Bar chart showing the comparative costs of using 5W chargers and 29W chargers for iPhones

The savings are small for a single charger but they add up over multiple devices. Getting into good habits is the key to keeping overall costs down.

Form energy saving habits

Energy saving devices won’t save you much money if you don’t pair them with good habits. Efficient devices can be an aid but changing your behaviour is much more likely to result in a significant change. This is something we explore further in our guide to reducing your energy bills.

Here are a few habits we recommend getting into if you want to make your devices as energy efficient as possible:

  • Charge your devices only when you need them – Don’t charge your laptop only to leave it unused for a couple of days. Charge your devices only as long as you need to ahead of a time that you plan to use them.
  • Turn unused devices off – don’t leave your TV and computer on standby. Even leaving your phone on standby overnight is inefficient. Turn your devices off and help them to conserve power.
  • Avoid using electrical devices when you don’t need to – Dry your clothes outside, let natural light into the house and keep doors closed to maintain heat. If you can stay comfortable without using devices like bulbs, appliances and heaters then do so.