We use gas and electricity all year round in the UK, but it’s at this time of year when the cost of powering and heating our home really comes under the spotlight. According to Ofgem, the average UK household duel fuel bill for 2016 will be £1,345. That’s a lot of money, so it makes sense to save energy wherever possible in order to reduce the amount that we have to pay. Fortunately there are plenty of gadgets out there that will help us do just that.
If you watch TV or listen to the radio then you will no doubt have either seen or heard an advertisement for a smart thermostat at some point over the last few weeks. Smart thermostats are a direct replacement for your existing thermostat that enable you to control the central heating and hot water from anywhere in the world, providing you have an internet connection both at home and wherever you are at the time.
The great thing about smart thermostats is that you don’t have to be at home to be able to adjust them. The programmable timer means that you can set your central heating and hot water schedules so that they automatically turn on and off multiple times each day, whenever you want them to. You can also override the central heating or hot water schedules to manually change the temperature of your heating or hot water supply with your smartphone, meaning that you never have to waste money heating your empty home again.
There are several providers of smart thermostats, with the market leaders being Nest, Hive (by British Gas) and Netatmo. Prices start at around £150 which is by no means cheap, but over time these gadgets will more than pay for themselves by saving you money on your heating bills.
A timer plug is a simple but effective gadget that is useful for saving money on your electricity bill. Timer plugs have been around for decades and are essentially normal plugs with integrated 24 hour timers that fit into your existing sockets, but they have somewhat evolved over the last few years. In addition to 7 day digital timer plugs which allow you to set multiple daily schedules for a whole week, you can now buy smart timer plugs that can be combined with smart thermostats as mentioned above, so that they can be controlled from anywhere in the world.
Timer plugs are particularly useful in that you can set them to turn off automatically even if you’re not home. This means that you won’t be wasting electricity by powering lamps or other appliances unnecessarily when you’re not there. Even if you are at home, a timer plug can still save you money if you use it to charge your mobile or smartphone. Mobile phones do not take all night to charge so you can set a timer plug to switch off after a few hours so that you don’t leave your phone plugged in for the whole night. A timer plug will only set you back about £6, which will pay for itself in a couple of years, after which you will be saving electricity every year for every timer plug that you use.
Energy Saving Surge Protector
Not quite as well-known as the timer plug, an energy saving surge protector is an underrated yet extremely useful gadget to have around the house. It looks like a normal power surge protector, except often a bit more bulky. A typical 6-outlet protector will have one master outlet, two outlets that are always on, and three slave outlets. The idea is that you plug your TV into the master outlet, your Sky/Freeview/Cable box into one of the ‘always’ on outlets and any other devices such as DVD players and games consoles into the slave outlets. Whenever the TV is tuned off, all of your devices with the exception of the ‘always on’ devices will power off until you next turn on the TV. The master outlet is also designed to turn off completely so that your TV isn’t remaining on standby for long periods of time.
It is estimated that a TV left on standby constantly for a year will add £80 to your electricity bill. By using an energy saving surge protector not only are you ensuring that your TV is never left on standby, but you are also ensuring that your DVD and games consoles are also wasting energy when not in use. All while making sure that your Sky/Freeview/Cable box still receives the power it needs. A typical energy saving surge protector will cost around £30 so you cn expect to see savings within just a few months of use.
Car USB Phone Charger
For just a couple of pounds you can buy a USB smartphone and tablet charger that plugs straight into the 12v or 24v power socket in your car. This charges via your cars battery which is constantly being topped up by the alternator while you drive so in effect this offers completely free energy. By charging your smartphone or tablet in the car instead of at home you can save money on your electricity bills every year.
If you’re really savvy you can use a car USB phone charger to charge a USB power bank, which you can then take indoors to charge all of your USB gadgets. The more gadgets you own and charge with this method, the more money you can potentially save.
By using the four gadgets above and combining each of the methods you can save up to £400 per year on your gas and electrical bills, which is definitely not to be sneered at. Even if you factor in the cost of buying all of these gadgets they will easily pay for themselves within a year, which then enables you to reduce your energy consumption and reap the rewards by having extra pounds in your pocket for many years ahead.