It hasn’t been a particularly lovely Spring and Summer so far, has it? After the rainiest April in UK history, the charming British weather came back with a vengeance and gave us the soggiest June too.
Thanks to all this, the average home is not the cosiest place to be right now. For example, you might have drowning garden plants, green algae trying to take up residence on outdoor paths, laundry refusing to dry, and cold and damp creeping into the rooms of the house.
To top it all off, some of the evenings have been so chilly that the central heating has switched itself on a few times. That might be for the best, if it stops mould spores and worse growing, but I’d rather not have the ridiculous fuel bill to match.
Here are three top tips for saving energy while the weather’s being vile.
Reduce your laundry bill
The cheapest, simplest option for drying your laundry is to get it outside to dry on the line. Of course, the problem most of us have at the moment is unpredictable heavy rain showers, leaving you and your laundry completely soaked before you can rescue all of it.
One solution is to peg your wet laundry onto a clotheshorse or clothes airer when you set it outdoors on a rare non-rainy day, instead of putting it on the line. This way, if it even threatens to drizzle or rain, you can haul the whole lot back indoors within a few seconds, wait for the downpour to stop then get it back out there. Even an hour outdoors is better than nothing when it comes to drying wet clothes.
The other thing you can try, if you are forced to use a tumble dryer, is to only half dry the clothes. Take them out of the dryer when they’re warm and partly dry, and the residual heat should do the rest. Get them straight onto a clotheshorse and try not to overcrowd it, and all should be well. Meanwhile, keep a window open a tiny bit to let the air circulate, to prevent a buildup of condensation.
Hot drinks all round
If you’re feeling the chill, try to resist the urge to put the central heating on if you’re a healthy adult. Add an extra layer of clothing (I hope you didn’t buy too many pretty summer dresses this year, ladies, you probably won’t be wearing many of them), move around and keep active, and have the occasional hot drink.
Kettles use up a large amount of energy for their size, so keep the bill down by only boiling the water you need. For even more efficiency, drink your hot drinks out of insulated mugs, or put your day’s supply of coffee or tea into an insulated jug or Thermos-style flask. To avoid summer cordials going to waste, try making them with hot water too.
You can also go back to winter-style cooking, with baked pies and casseroles adapted to use summer vegetables. To reduce energy wastage, use all the shelves in the oven, so will make a dessert or the next day’s main course at the same time. You can switch off the oven just before it’s ready as things keep cooking in the residual heat, and leave the oven door ajar after the cooking’s finished as it warms up the kitchen a little.
While it’s okay to occasionally have the heating on during cold, damp weather, it’s too expensive for most of us to do this every day. If possible, turn off several of the radiators, and only warm up the problem spots or the main living area in your home, and set heating to switch off long before bedtime.
Keep a few throws or blankets handy, and an evening on the sofa will be much cosier too. Plus it’s the perfect excuse to snuggle up to someone.
How are you keeping your utilities bills low during the bad weather?