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What if there was a 5-a-day for energy?

Samantha Kennedy, 17 November 2014 — Energy Bills, Energy efficiency, Saving energy

Sam Kennedy, Head of Consumer Demand and Products Policy, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

How much thought do you put into saving energy in your home? Our recent survey shows that three-quarters of people give it a lot or a fair amount of thought.

To really tackle this, it’s critical that people make material improvements to their homes (for example through Green Deal) but it’s important to think about how people act in their homes too.

When we scratch a little deeper, it’s clear people don’t always have a thorough understanding of which appliances use the most energy in their home and what they can do to save energy and money.

There are also lot of myths at play. For example 38 per cent of people think leaving the heating on low constantly is better than turning the heating on and off and 52 per cent would turn up the thermostat when it’s cold outside – both are not efficient ways to heat a home. Changing attitudes and behaviours regarding energy use is a big challenge. The biggest potential lies in helping people to take control of their heating. We recommend setting your heating somewhere between 18 and 21 degrees to make sure you are warm, comfortable and healthly.

But we know heating controls aren’t easy – when did you last look at yours? We are working with industry to drive innovation in heating controls to make this easier for everyone. One idea that we are also looking at is “borrowed” from another government department. Most of us know the principle for eating five pieces of fruit and vegetables per day – what if there was an equivalent for energy saving in the home? Easy things that everyone can do without spending any money!

Our research team took a look at the idea and found five simple actions that could save people up to £100 per year:

  • Turn off radiators in unused rooms
  • Always use the dishwasher on eco settings
  • Dry clothes naturally rather than tumble dry
  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need
  • Switch off lights and electrical appliances when not in use.

This is not a definitive list and, of course, habits differ from household to household. But we think this idea is worth floating to see if it gets people thinking and talking about energy use in the home.

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