50 tips to reduce energy consumption and save money

Lighting, heating, cooking, and using hot water all affect our wallets. The Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency has put together a list of recommendations to reduce both.

There are plenty of tips on how you can save energy and money. (Source: Pexels)

As Slovakia approaches the winter season, politicians are saying that people will pay more for electricity and heating as a result of several global factors. Many people have started thinking about how to save money and reduce energy consumption.

While people can save a significant amount of energy with financially more expensive measures, such as replacing windows and adding insulation, but the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency has put together 50 simple recommendations on how people can in fact save energy right away.

Here they are divided into five groups:

10 tips to save money on heating and cooling

1) Do not overheat unnecessarily

Every 1°C increase in temperature means 6 percent more energy. When the room is warm, do not open the windows. Instead, set thermostatic radiator valves to limit the performance of your radiators.

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2) Set radiator valves correctly

Radiators react most sensitively to the temperature in the room if valves are set to around level 3. This will ensure thermal comfort even in the rooms where you spend most of your time. When leaving for several days, set the valves to level 2. Use level 4 only for the well-being of older people and possibly for heating the bathroom.

3) Monitor air humidity in rooms

Thermal comfort in a heated room largely depends on air humidity. It is ideal to keep it at a level of 50-60 precent. In winter, indoor humidity is low but you can increase it, for example, by using water vaporisers, flowers or aquariums. Why is this important? With higher air humidity, you need to heat less. At an air humidity of 30 percent and a temperature of 23 °C, you feel the same thermal comfort as at a temperature of 21 °C and an air humidity of 60 percent. You can save up to 12 percent of energy.

4) Do not cover your radiators

If the radiator is covered with a thick curtain, hidden behind furniture or clothes are hanging on it, the flow of heat into the room is limited and the room will be colder. Heat consumption for heating to the same temperature is thus greater.

5) Do not turn off the heating completely in winter

If you go on holiday in winter, it is enough to maintain a temperature of 16-18 °C in the house. But do not turn off the heating completely. It is significantly more expensive to heat very cold and damp rooms than to maintain a minimum temperature in them.

6) Do not forget to vent the radiators

At the beginning of the heating season, check the heating system and vent the radiators. Fully open the thermoregulation valves so that the heating system can be properly filled with water and vented.

7) Open the windows wide but briefly

Even in winter, people must ventilate the rooms to prevent the accumulation of harmful substances in them. but you have to pay for the heat that flies out the window. Ventilate in a way that the walls and internal items do not get cold. If you want to ventilate with greater comfort and at the same time save costs, it is possible to use recuperative ventilation with heat recovery.

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8) Let the sun in during the winter

In winter, keep blinds open to let the sun in. Every extra warmth counts, and the sun can add considerably to the temperature.

9) Check the window settings

Even if you have quality windows with good thermal insulation properties, you can waste heat. After years of use, they may not fit well, so it is important not to neglect servicing and checking their correct settings. A technician can also recommend replacing seals or glazing.

10) First, reduce consumption. Then, use renewables

Although you may not have enough money to insulate the whole house, even partial measures, such as replacing windows, will bring savings. Consider investing in new equipment for the use of renewable energy sources only after reducing heat consumption.

10 tips on how to save money on hot water

1) Wash dishes in a sink filled with water or in a dishwasher

Dishes can be washed in a sink or even more economically in a dishwasher. The latest models are capable of washing dishes with a consumption of less than 10 litres per cycle. When washing by hand, you can spend up to 6 times more water. With a dishwasher, you save water and the energy for heating it.

2) Instead of having a bath, have a shower

3) But check your shower time

Practice taking a two-minute shower. When you shower for more than five minutes, you use as much water as if you filled a full bathtub.

4) Be mindful of water when brushing teeth

Brushing your teeth under running water unnecessarily increases water consumption. You can use up to 20 litres more. That's enough water for a person to drink during an entire week!

5) Fix every dripping faucet

A dripping faucet can leak over 3,300 litres of water per month. At the recommended 3 litres per day, this volume is enough for three people to drink for a whole year. To give you a better idea, this corresponds to 20 full bathtubs.

6) Energy-saving faucets are worth it

Lever taps fundamentally shorten the time needed to set the required water temperature. Compared to classic faucets with two taps, they save up to 30 percent water. And thermostatic faucets also allow you to set the water temperature in advance. If you set it once, later it is enough to regulate only the intensity of the flow.

7) Save up to 20 percent of water with aerators

Small plastic strainers allow water to mix with air. This reduces the flow and at the same time increases the volume of the water flow and the speed of its flow. By using aerators, you can save up to 20 percent of water.

8) Choose economical shower heads

On the shower head with adjustable flow, you can choose the number of nozzles. When you use a smaller number of nozzles, you increase the speed of the water flow and reduce consumption.

9) An intelligent washing machine has lower consumption

A modern washing machine can economically wash half a load of clothes, while adjusting the water consumption to the actual weight of the load. This also affects electricity consumption.

10) Prepare warm water from the sun

If your household has a higher consumption of hot water, with suitable conditions it is a good idea to consider installing solar collectors. Thanks to energy from the sun, you can get hot water much cheaper.

10 tips on how to save money on electrical appliances

1) Prioritise energy-saving appliances

Energy labels will help you choose more energy-efficient appliances. For example, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers must be marked with energy labels. When buying them, you need to choose the right type, the volume of which meets the needs of your household. If you buy appliances that are too large and have unused capacity for, say, your two-person household, you waste energy unnecessarily.

2) A washing machine load should not be too full or too empty

If possible, avoid washing with a partial load. The washing machine is considered full when there is free space left in its drum, which comfortably fills a fist without having to squish the laundry.

3) Lower the water temperature when washing

If you boil laundry, you use up to 50 percent more electricity than if you wash at a temperature of 30-40 °C, which is fully sufficient for washing most of your clothes. Pre-washing is not economical. How much electricity your washing machine consumes during washing is determined by the necessary water heating in the main phase of the washing cycle. The higher the washing temperature, the higher the consumption. When, for example, you reduce the temperature from 90 °C to 60 °C, you can save up to around 25 percent of energy.

4) Use economical washing programs

Eco programs, which are already available in modern washing machines and dishwashers, are a bit more time-consuming, but they will save you a lot of energy and water with the same washing or dishwashing results.

5) When ironing, do not overdo it with steaming

Fully dried laundry is more difficult to iron. Iron it when it is still slightly damp. This way you can save 30 to 50 percent of energy. It is also important not to leave the iron on unnecessarily and to set the thermostat correctly to the temperature you really need. Do not overheat the iron unnecessarily.

6) Regularly descale electrical appliances

Calcareous deposits from hard water can cause increased electricity consumption. You see this most often in a hot water kettle, but regular descaling will also help the dishwasher, washing machine and iron. Thanks to it, your appliances will have a longer lifespan and lower consumption. Descaling agents can be bought at a drug store, but vinegar or citric acid will also do an excellent job.

7) Place your refrigerator in the right place

The refrigerator should definitely not be located near an oven, stove or radiator. The higher the ambient temperature, the more energy it consumes to maintain the desired temperature inside. It is also necessary to ensure optimal air circulation around the cooler, otherwise the heat from the cooling charge will not be sufficiently removed, which can have a significant impact on operating costs. This is also why the cabinet must have ventilation holes for built-in refrigerators. The minimum reserve is 2 cm on the sides and 5 cm at the back.

8) Remove frost

If you do not have a refrigerator and freezer with automatic defrosting, you should regularly remove frost from the evaporator. The frost thermally insulates the evaporator and reduces the cooling performance. To achieve the desired low temperature, the compressor has to run longer, so it consumes more electricity. In order to limit the formation of frost, it is a good idea to put moist food in closed containers in the refrigerator and freezer.

9) Do not open the refrigerator door unnecessarily

Before you open the refrigerator, think about what you need from it. The more often you open the refrigerator door, the higher your total electricity consumption. Organised storage of food will also help you in that the door does not have to be open for a long time.

10) Do not put warm food in the refrigerator

Warm foods do not belong in the refrigerator, let them cool down first. In winter, you can use the balcony for this. If you cover or wrap food before putting it in the refrigerator, you reduce the formation of frost.

10 tips to save money on lighting

1) Use the daylight

If the room is dark, you do not need to use artificial lighting right away. Sometimes it is enough to pull up the blinds and work by the window.

2) Prefer energy-saving light sources

If you have conventional light bulbs at home, you spend more energy than if you replace them with compact fluorescent lights. They can save 70 to 80 percent of energy compared to conventional light bulbs. Light bulbs with an input of 40 to 100 W can reliably be replaced by fluorescent lamps with an input of 9 to 23 W. They will provide good lighting in the most used rooms, such as the kitchen, living room or children's room. If you decide to use LED sources, they save almost 30 percent of energy compared to compact fluorescent lamps with a comparable luminous flux, and when you replace conventional light bulbs with LED sources, the saving is up to 90 percent. Another advantage is also that they have a much longer lifespan than fluorescent lamps, they do not mind frequent switching on/off, and the intensity of the lighting can be perfectly regulated.

3) Turn off the light

One tenth of household electricity is used for lighting.

4) Local lighting is better

When you read at the table or in bed, a small lamp is enough for you. There is no need to light the whole room.

5) Motion sensors will also help save money

In rooms in which you do not move often, such as closets and corridors, it is worthwhile to install motion sensors.

6) It pays to have more than one switch

If there are several lamps in the room, it is worthwhile to have a switch for each separately. In this way, you will not have a light on in the part of the room you are not using at the moment.

7) You can also save money by cleaning

Not everyone wipes dust from lamps and light sources as often as necessary. At the same time, dust also "steals" your light. When your lamps are too dusty, the deposited dust can absorb up to 20 percent of the light.

8) If you paint your ceiling white, there will be more light

If you do not have lights installed in the ceiling, you can paint it white and use the natural light reflection from the pale surface. Thanks to this, you will have a feeling of better lighting in a room even with fluorescent lamps with lower power.

9) Choose the right lightshades

An ideal lightshade is one that appropriately disperses the light flux of the used source. Not every shade can be combined with every light source. If you choose an inappropriate combination of a light bulb, fluorescent lamp or LED source with a shade, the room may seem poorly lit.

10) Bet on dimming

In the living room or bedroom, it pays to regulate the intensity of the lighting, if you want, for example, to watch a movie or listen to music or just relax. When you replace classic switches with dimmers and the light becomes less intense, you naturally spend less energy.

10 tips on how to save money when cooking

1) With a lid, you use 4 times less energy

The lid should fit tightly on the pot or pan during cooking.

2) When heating food, use a microwave

The microwave is more energy efficient than a classic oven, which would need a higher temperature and more energy to achieve the same effect. By heating food directly on a plate in a microwave oven, you save up to 50 percent of energy compared to heating it on the stove.

3) A pressure cooker saves energy and your time

In a pressure cooker, food is cooked much faster than in a classic pot. It can save up to 50 percent of energy and 70 percent of time when cooking.

4) In electric cooking, use residual heat

If you have glass-ceramic or electric hobs, cooking economically also means that approximately 5 to 10 minutes before the end of cooking, you can switch the regulator to a lower level or turn it off completely. That way you can use residual heat for cooking.

5) Pots with uneven bottoms waste energy

If you cook on an electric stove, it pays to have pots made of materials that conduct heat well and have a flat bottom, that is, they are attached to the plate over their entire surface. Pots with uneven bottoms can increase cooking time by up to 40 percent, which increases energy consumption by 10-15 percent.

6) The size of the pot also matters

The diameter of the bottom of the pot should correspond to the diameter of the cooking zone or plate. Pots that are too big or too small increase the cooking time. For example, if the pot has a diameter 3 cm smaller than the diameter of the hot plate, up to a third of the energy can escape into the surroundings.

7) Bake several things at once

8) Do not preheat your oven for too long

Do not turn on the oven too early. Modern ovens are equipped with a thermostat. Set it to the required temperature and put the food in the oven as soon as it is reached.

9) If you need hot water, use a kettle

Thanks to the speed of heating, kettles also offer a more economical way of heating water than gas or electric hobs.

10) Only heat as much water as you really need

If you heat 1 litre of water twice a day and use only half of it, you "pour" 365 litres of warm water down the drain every year.

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