The current housing landscape, the energy crisis and the rising cost of living combined is a worrying feeling for many people. One way to alleviate some of the worries is to take a proactive approach to the problem and find ways to cut energy costs ourselves.
But how do you do that if you rent rather than own your property if you’re unable to make large or permanent changes to the home?
Smart tech devices could just be the solution you were looking for. With “out of the box” options of easy-to-install smart devices, to older and less ‘smart’ fixtures, you may be able to find multiple ways to cut costs.
How to save money on energy as a renter
Changing habits is the best and easiest way to save money. However, changing the habits of a lifetime can feel like a challenge. That’s where smart tech devices can come in handy.
A significant saving can be made by tackling ‘phantom load’ or ‘vampire devices’ around the home, these devices are electronics that continue to use a significant amount of electricity even when left on standby.
According to new research by British Gas, Vampire devices are draining £147 per year when left on standby, and that UK households spend £3.16 billion each year by leaving these devices on when they're not in use. For the average household, this means spending an extra £12 a month.
Common phantom load or vampire device culprits and their average annual cost
- Two 60w outside lights left on 10 hours per night: £63
- Extra, old, or mini-fridges: £50
- Desktop computers: £40
- Tropical fish tank: £40
- Outdoor security lights: £25
- Traditional electric heating (An empty home — heated 40% of the time): £373
- Electric underfloor heating (one hour extra per day per room): £156
- Electric towel rail: £65
Daily cost vampire household devices
- Shower: £9.80
- Washing machine: £4.73
- Printer: £3.81
- Phone charger: £1.26
The most expensive daily cost vampire devices
- Televisions: Unattended or standby televisions cost £24.61 per year, with an additional £23.10 for a set-top box.
- Game consoles and computers: Cost on average £12.17 and £11.22 a year.
Home energy smart meter
Understanding your home energy usage is the best place to start making changes, and having a smart meter installed is the most accurate way to measure this. However, if you rent your property this might be a more difficult device to install. Ofgem state that you (and your housemates) should be able to request a smart meter to be installed. Tenancy agreements may restrict this but a call to your landlord or letting agent can yield positive results.
Data from Finder suggests that smart meter users have lowered their bills by £32 per year after installing one.
Apps like Loop and Samsung SmartThings Energy, are capable of pairing with smart meters, allowing you to monitor energy usage from a mobile phone identifying devices using the most energy and measuring the cost.
Smart thermostats are a beneficial tool to watch heating and cooling costs over time, but as a renter it’s unlikely you'll be able to install one. Instead, take the traditional route and simply turn down your thermostat a little whenever possible.
It's an established fact that Energy Saving Trust say you can save £200 a year by turning down your thermostat by one degree. You can pair it with a cheap night rate or low energy rate. I have saved £50 a month’ says Waseem Mirza, technology expert and host of the Future Tech show.
Some smart-home devices don’t need permanent installation, so you can take them with you when you move
- Washing machines: these appliances measure real-time energy usage and calculate the size of the wash load to select the most energy-efficient programme and detergent requirement for your wash.
- Dishwashers: energy-efficient dishwashers continuously monitor the proper functioning of the appliance meaning less energy and water wastage.
- Smart tumble dryer: allow you to choose the programme to use, set when you want the machine to start, and access a breakdown of how much energy your machine used during a cycle.
Smart interior devices
- Smart bulbs: can be scheduled remotely to turn on and off when you need them, dimmed or you can control them remotely using an app.
- Smart plugs: controlled via apps they allow traditional electrical devices to be used in a similar way to smart devices.
- Temperature sensor curtain openers: keep heat from escaping, about 30% of a home’s heat energy is lost through windows, effective use of curtains can reduce energy losses when it’s cold.
- Smart fans or air conditioners: monitor internal temperatures and only work when needed.