Easy ways to save energy and money to reduce electricity bills

Put the jump on those high electricity bills with this guide to killing the kilowatts 
Easy ways to save energy and money to reduce electricity bills

Timers can be a bog standard, cheap, plug-through timer for a 2kW convection heater, or a state-of-the-art thermostatic/timer smart control system for lights, a central heating system, or a single appliance. File pictures

Before we tune up with my annual round-up of simple and unexpected electricity-saving tricks, I wanted to take a moment to look at the ultimate worry for many customers — disconnection from the supply. Some 256,000 residential electricity customers were in arrears in the three months up to June according to Ireland’s independent energy regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU). That’s one in eight households in Ireland in spring/summer, a worrying trend that must provide intense anxiety for families approaching the darker months. Happily, we will all receive an energy credit totalling €450 over the course of the winter, regardless of the situation or supplier. This will knock your standing charge on the head.

If you are in trouble meeting the bill, or already behind in your payments, what are your rights, and supports, and what’s the best way to get back on track? The CRU has specific customer protection rights that you should be aware of while sorting out the issue with your supplier.

First of all, in the dead of winter, there is a moratorium on disconnection for general domestic customers that runs to December 1, 2023, and March 31, 2024, for vulnerable customers. Don’t try to hide from your supplier and ignore any problem. The extended debt repayment periods are good until the summer of 2024. This allows you a minimum of 24 months to repay debt, but it’s vital to get in and be in communication with your supplier and establish a payment plan that you can comfortably meet.

There’s also a reduced debt burden on pay-as-you-go top-ups. “The debt repayment level on Pay-As-You-Go meters will remain at 10% (a €20 vend would have €2 deducted to pay the debt)” ( Finally, ensure you are on the Vulnerable Customer’s Register, if that applies to you or yours, and that you have claimed your Households Benefits Package of €35 per week if you are over 70 or in receipt of certain benefits. See


When it comes to saving electricity, the best electricity is the power you don’t use. I know that sounds harsh. Small hits of split kWhs and forgotten periods when something is unnecessarily on or set to standby sneakily tickle up many bills. In these unfathomable market conditions for energy, lack of attention can mount up to an extra three-figure overspending over the year.

You cannot control the kWh prices of a variable price deal, but you have a lot of control behind your own front door. One example? Consider boiling the kettle once and then decanting your second or third cup of hot water into a flask to use later in the morning. That’s two boils of a 2kW device eliminated with a tiny change of habit.

Consider boiling the kettle once and then decanting your second or third cup of hot water into a flask to use later in the morning.
Consider boiling the kettle once and then decanting your second or third cup of hot water into a flask to use later in the morning.

Improving your usage habits with easy lifestyle changes, and then applying these to the best power deal for you, can really shake down that bill. There’s the old-fashioned stuff and it’s all good — turning off the lights consistently in unused rooms, snapping off the immersion and tuning it with a timer, sticking in LEDs as the last incandescent light bulb pops, and cutting your sudsy times down to three-five minutes in an electric shower.


Don’t rely on eliminating standby mode for perceptible savings. Yes, in the past, the vampire setting as it was known, did suck a surprising amount of power through TVs and other electronics. These days, the actual power draw is likely to be a 3W to 5W per hour trace, in the order of €1-€12 per year.

Few of us are dedicated enough to disable the set-top box, or phone charger, or turn off the broadband router overnight. Still, your Sky Box does have an eco-mode. Ensure it’s set to revert to that during the night. Interesting fact? Laptop chargers are one of the worst offenders when left plugged in — don’t just take the machine off the leash when charged, unplug the charger completely.


What does that device use in terms of kWh power? For real-time data where you don’t have a smart meter, invest in an energy monitoring device. Simply plug it into a powered mains socket and then plug any 13A-rated appliance through it. Energenie ENER007 Power Meter Socket, €23.95. Interesting fact? Uswitch research has revealed that the average energy spend per household for a dog in the UK is the equivalent of €42 a year through leaving the TV on (42% of those asked), the radio on, lighting, heating, and operating fans when humans are out. Considering the natural needs of a dog, this is unhinged in my view. Episodes of Big Rich Texas and a cool breeze are no substitute for company.


Time-of-use tariffs riding on the back of a smart day/night meter (despite all the coaxing from suppliers) are not for everyone. Life happens. If you know that no matter how much you plead and threaten, your latch-key teenage darlings will come home from GAA heroics in the grip of the peak tariff (5pm-7pm) and will undoubtedly roar up a 9kW electric shower for 15-20 minutes per kid? You’re probably better off with a reasonably priced, flat-rate 24-hour tariff product.

Time-of-use tariffs are tilted towards particular usage demands and take commitment to glean savings. If you have an EV, you will be urgent for low-priced periods to boost the car overnight. Change your supplier every 12 months or even less, taking the hit of the early-exit fee if the numbers are right.


When it comes to electrical heating for both space and water, timers and thermostats are your friends. Every bit of kit in your house has a set of PDF instructions available to download online. It’s a perpetual and wonderful sourcebook to fight your power bleed. The electric radiator, the kilowatt munching dryer you bought six years back — everything.

You should understand the power demands and economy settings intimately. There’s always one determined anorak in the household who will excel at this investigation. Heat pumps can be baffling, and energy-hungry when the system is poorly designed, the zone settings are off, or the house is so badly insulated, it’s thrumming away day and night. Yes, you can reasonably expect your power bill to double with a HP, but otherwise, elicit the help of an approved engineer.


Timers can be a bog standard, cheap, plug-through timer for a 2kW convention-heater, or a state-of-the-art thermostatic/timer smart control for your oven, lights, central heating system or a single appliance. Timed and thermostatic settings are always worth paying for in space heaters.

Trim down temperatures, deploy eco-programs where they exist, and tailor periods of use to the minute. When you are forced to use space heaters, up the insulation levels in the room you’re using to the best of your ability. Pull curtains, try some simple press-on foam tape to windows and interior doors, and keep doors to other spaces firmly shut. Ensure your ventilation is in order with vents cleared at ground level outside, and any trickle vents on the windows remain clean and clear if that’s all you have to handle air exchanges.


Laundry woes are often cited when it comes to high power bills, but there’s a huge opportunity for improvement. First of all, don’t dry clothes on the radiators, indoor racks, or lines or using a modern, fan-operated drying tent, unless you are in a well-ventilated area not prone to dampness or condensation.

Silently accumulating, black mould could make you and your family seriously ill.

Get to know your washer and dryer’s settings. Timers for washing machines can utilise cheaper night-time and off-peak tariffs.
Get to know your washer and dryer’s settings. Timers for washing machines can utilise cheaper night-time and off-peak tariffs.

Heat-pump dryers run at a fraction of the price of a vented or conventional condenser. Hands up — yes, they are markedly slower which can be problematic for larger families.

If you can upgrade when the old machine goes toes-up, a heat-pump model will pay for itself in two-three years.

With standard condensers, use the run-off heat going back into the room to warm adjoining spaces.

The 30C washes can handle all but the filthiest clothes with the right biological detergent and the mechanical muscle of a decent washing machine.


That said, once a month run a hot empty machine with a cup of vinegar, or a hot cotton wash to clear both the drum and pipes of accumulated debris. If you have sneered at the use of eco-settings, now is the time to try them out.

Saving water does cut the bills as the less water there is in the drum, the less water needs to be heated.

Refresh settings using steam are featured on even new budget washers and remove the need for an entire wash for a handful of exhausted garments. Hitting the sales? I’d tumble to it.

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