Become more energy efficient

By Cara Waudby Tolley | June 2, 2022

With energy prices rising fast and climate change not getting any better, it’s time to cut down gas usage, not just for our pockets but for the planet. Octopus energy joins us to share its top tips.

There’s never been a better time to cut back on our gas usage: it pollutes the home, warms the planet, and costs more this winter than any year on record. So at the end of 2021, Octopus Energy launched its Winter Workout scheme, designed to reward customers who manage to reduce their gas usage, helping both their pockets and their carbon emissions. Nearly 250,000 customers signed up to the scheme, and have managed to cut their gas usage by 12% on average, and saved 5.8 million kilograms of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere!

If you’d like to lower your carbon emissions in a similar way, here are Octopus Energy’s top tips to get started…

1. Get your flow on

Getting your heating and hot water flowing at the right temperature can make gas go much further. While there are plenty of arguments over thermostats, few people ever change the settings on their boiler itself. The key one here is the flow temperature. This is the temperature the water leaves the boiler at to heat your home or provide hot water. At their default setting, these temperatures are usually too high. This doesn’t make your home warmer, but it can add massively to your bills and emissions. It’s like putting your foot flat to the floor when driving – it’s hugely wasteful, but doesn’t really affect your journey time.

If you have a combi boiler, we recommend setting your flow temperature to 50°C for heating and 55°C for hot water – it’ll take a little longer to heat up, but the gas and CO2 savings make it more than worthwhile!

2. Blowing in the wind

A continuous draft can quickly undo all the good work of your heating. While ventilation is important for air quality and health, it’s also the first place that heat escapes. If you can feel a draft, grab a draft excluder and plug the gap – and remember to close any open windows before the sun goes down.

3. Hot water or HOT water

Does hot water help to kill the nasties that are on your dirty dishes?

Most of us waste gas heating the hot water for our taps to 60°C, only to cool it down again by mixing it with cold water when we want to use it for showers or baths. But how hot do we need the water to clean our dishes? At 60°C, hot water can cause you serious scalding in under 5 seconds.

However, for water to be hot enough to kill the bacteria or other nasties on your plates, it would need to be over 75°C, and the dishes would need to soak for at least 30 seconds. So, when washing dishes by hand, you only need water hot enough to loosen grease and oils, which is generally around 30-40°C. Your dish soap will do the job of lifting bacteria from the surface of your dishes so they are swept away with the water. Disinfect your sink regularly so it doesn’t become a home for bacteria.

4. Timing is everything

Turning your heating off when it’s not needed is a quick way to save. Making sure your boiler isn’t running 24 hours a day is a great way to cut down your bill. Most boilers or thermostats will let you set a schedule, so you can turn the heating off or set it lower while you’re tucked up in bed.

The trick is to set your heat to come on 30 minutes before it’s needed, and shut off 30 minutes early as well – so the room can heat up and you make the most of residual heat.

5. Night time routine

Doing a quick lap of your home before sunset can help you cut heating costs.

You’ll keep more heat in your home if you pull your curtains closed before it gets dark (up to 15% reduction in heat loss). If you’re heading off to work and expect to be home after dark, simply pulling your curtains closed before you leave will help keep residual heat longer. Make sure your curtains don’t cover your radiators – this will just mean the heat escapes through the window rather than warming your room.

6. Don’t touch that dial (OK, maybe just a little tweak)

Tweaking your thermostat – using it as an on/off switch or boost for example – can mean more gas is wasted. Most people like their home warmed to a certain temperature – if you’ve got a thermostat or smart thermometer, this is the setting most people reach for when adjusting their heating.

Somewhere between 18-21°C is ideal, and lower temps can save you gas. It’s better to set your temperature now – because when it’s really cold you’ll be tempted to crank it up more. It’s handy to know that setting a higher temperature won’t warm your house more quickly.

And don’t use it like an on-off switch. Many of us do – but you’ll be more comfy, more efficiently, if you set it and leave it on for while you need it.

Good to know: If anyone in your home is 65 or over, or has a health condition like heart or lung disease, you should warm your home to at least 18°C.

7. Consider which parts of your home need to be warm

This isn’t about having a cold home, but if you’re snuggling down in front of a film, or for the night, and won’t be moving, there’s no point having other rooms heated to 21°C. And if you’re going to be in one spot for a long time, you might go further. We hear from a lot of people who snuggle up in a onesie or a blanket, and knock their thermostat down a couple of degrees. It’s not for everyone, but it could really cut your energy consumption.

If there are rooms in your home that aren’t used much, you may want to turn off any radiators in them to make sure you don’t waste gas heating them. You may want to consider thermostatic valves for radiators in rooms other than the one with your main thermostat. They will automatically manage the amount of hot water used based on the temperature in the room, so can help keep a consistent temperature right through your home while cutting down any overheating.

8. Keep your radiators happy

There are some quick ways to help your radiator do its job better. From moving furniture a couple of inches away to using foil to avoid escaped heat, keeping your radiator in tip top condition can vastly improve its efficiency, keeping you warmer for less. Find more tips on how to keep your radiator happy on the page opposite.

9. Stay warmer longer with a little insulation

Could your home benefit from a little extra insulation this winter? If you find your home cools down quickly once the heating is off, you may need some more insulation. Common areas for heat loss are loft hatches and drafty floors, and you can also give your water tank and hot water pipes an extra layer to keep their heat in.

10. Heating water for cooking?

If you’ve got a gas hob, heat your water with electricity. If you need to heat water for cooking or cleaning, it’s quicker and uses less gas to get it boiling with a kettle or microwave first – you can always transfer it to the hob once it’s boiling.

For more tips and energy saving advice, head over to octopus.energy/

  • Join the Planet Mindful community and make a pact to prioritise your self care – try an issue here for just 99p!