Most of us would jump at the opportunity to have a little extra money to spend, and thinking carefully about where you can cut costs is a good way of providing it. We often over-look simple ways to save money around our homes, so here are a few pointers to help you along the way.
Cooking your own meals:
Many people are under the misconception that cooking meals from scratch is expensive. However, there are many meals you can make, with inexpensive ingredients, which are both satisfying and easy on the pocket. Most of us have hectic lives and it is easy to see why we may fall back on processed, ready-made meals; and in some cases, the meals available in the supermarkets these days are pretty tasty. Even so, you can’t escape the fact that they are not cheap, and even if they are the highest quality, they are never going to be a substitute for a home-cooked, fresh meal, that is produced at a fraction of the price. We are convenience junkies these days, always looking for the quicker option. This is why pre-prepared items at the supermarket draw us in: vegetables that are chopped for us, salad that has already been washed. There is no disputing their convenience factor, and therefore, appeal, but they also bump up the amount you are spending; nobody likes peeling a potato, but the amount you might save if you do can be quite staggering when totted up.
Another great thing about making your own food is that you can cook in bulk; if you are frying up some mince for a spaghetti bolognaise, you might as well make twice as much, and freeze half of it. This means that not only do you have another meal conveniently waiting for you in the freezer, but your energy costs will be less because you do not have to make the second meal completely from scratch.
Turn off your heating:
This doesn’t mean that you need to refrain from the radiator to the point of needing to put on your thermal undies, just reduce the heat where you don’t need it. For example, many people switch on their central heating, including every radiator in the house, even in rooms that are not occupied. Where possible, individually adjust the radiator in each room, in some cases even switching it off completely: if you rarely go upstairs before bedtime, it is pointless, and expensive, to have your radiator on full blast hours before you go to sleep. Another costly mistake many people make is keeping their heating on, even when they are not home; it is naturally a little chilly when you return, but the potential reduction in energy costs will more than make up for it.
Limit your use of electricity:
Most of us have laptops, computers and other electrical equipment that we generally leave on. It’s time to turn them off when not in use. Similarly, turn the lights of in rooms you are not using, and only have one light on during the evening when you are watching television; it’s not necessary for the whole house to resemble Blackpool Illuminations, just switch lights on as, and when, you need them.
Think about how you use your washing machine or dishwasher: maybe you are running it when it is not full to capacity. Perhaps you are putting it through an extensive cycle every time, when maybe there are quicker, more fuel-efficient options available. Another thing to consider is that some providers charge less for their utilities during the night, making it economically prudent to run your appliances while you are sleeping. Not forgetting our objective in all this, which is to save money, you can even install a socket timer that switches off after a pre-programmed specific time. This is also a great idea when charging phones or other devices during the night, reducing the need for them to be plugged into the mains for the whole time you are asleep.
Insulate your home:
Heating your home is expensive, even after implementing our great cost-cutting tips, so you need to hold on to as much of that heat as possible. There are many ways in which you can insulate your home, for example sealing windows and doors, or where feasible, replacing old windows with those that are double-glazed. In older houses, or for doors that have a large gap between them and the floor, it might be beneficial to buy some draft excluders, which are placed against the door keeping heat in and drafts out. Most of the heat in our homes is lost through the roof, so adequately protecting the heat from escaping makes financial sense. Insulating your attic will not only ensure that your house is warm in the winter, but will also keep it cooler during the summer months, too. Here’s a really informative video and article about saving electricity: http://www.videojug.com/interview/how-to-save-electricity.
Soften your water:
Hard water is prolific in some areas, with over 60% of UK homes affected; it causes a nuisance at best and great expense at worst. The term “hard” is used to describe water that has an excessively high mineral content, and those that have it pumped into their homes, often feel its disastrous presence. As hard water circulates through a house, it leaves behind traces of the minerals dissolved in it; these can be seen anywhere water flows, leaving unsightly marks inside toilet bowls, on taps and in showers and baths. The problem becomes more apparent when the deposits are heated, as they harden and compound (referred to as limescale), which causes particular problems for appliances such as kettles and water heaters, as more energy is required to heat them up. If you live in a hard water area, you could reduce your costs significantly by installing a water softener: tap water is run through a block salt cylinder, which removes the troublesome mineral ions, leaving you with water that is soft and manageable. The water softener system is simple and easy to run, but its benefits are outstanding in terms of convenience, but more importantly, cost: the amount of cleaning products (used to remove unsightly limescale marks) can be reduced by 75%, potentially saving a staggering £400 every year. Not only that, soft water allows appliances to work more efficiently, offering a whopping 25% reduction on energy costs, and substantially increasing their life-span.
These simple, yet easily implemented changes highlight the fact that every little counts- offering realistic ways to reduce the costs in your household.