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Seven ways to save energy in your home

There are numerous different ways to spend your money, depending on who holds the purse strings. Should you invest in a refrigerator that will pay for itself in ten years? Reduce electrical power? Take shorter showers? It’s all up to you. You can save if you want to.

Why is it that some families spend thousands of euros a year on air conditioning while others spend less than €800? How do some people manage to increase their spending power without moving somewhere cheaper? And, above all, how did our grandmothers save with a lower income than ours?

If you spend intelligently and thoughtfully you can make your money go further and do more with it. Get the same for less, that is, pure energy efficiency.

How much energy do Spanish homes use?  

Obviously, everyone is different, and so is every household in the world. However, there are several studies and data from the IDAE (Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving) that show that the average Spanish household spends around €1,000 per year on energy .

Climate control (heating + air conditioning) uses an average of 5,300 kWh per year, and is by far the heaviest expense, accounting for 50% of Spanish households’ total energy expenditure. Appliances and hot water come next, both consuming around 1,900 kWh. Other costs like lighting (around 400 kWh) are insignificant compared to those.

The data clearly shows that if we want to save, air conditioning is the area we need to tackle to get more for our money. 

 

"The average Spanish household spends about 1,000 euros per year on energy."

 

1. Reducing contracted power, a double-edged sword

Your contracted electrical power, also called "fixed term", is measured in kW (kilowatts) and is the maximum amount of energy you can consume at any one time. The more power you have contracted, the more appliances you can run at the same time. The less power you have, the more likely it is that “the switch will trip”.

If you analyse your habits and decide that you don’t need to run so many appliances at once (maybe you can live without using the oven and the vacuum cleaner at the same time), you might consider reducing your contracted power. The less contracted power you have, the lower your electricity bills.

For an average household, reducing power by a decimal (from 3.4 to 3.3 kW, for example) will save about 40 euros a year . Let's look at a specific example:

  • A customer who switches from 5.75 kW to 3.3 kW and has the Tempo Happy Rate will save about 118 euros every year.

The problem is that lowering the power is not a decision you should take lightly . It is true that the lower it is, the more you will save on your bill. But reduce it too much and your electricity will cut out whenever you turn on the ceramic hob. If you rush in and reduce the power too much, then you will have no choice but to increase it again to live a normal life. All these procedures can be expensive and eat up any savings you have made in other ways. We recommend the following content to learn how much it costs to change contracted power and how to do it.

 

2. Concentrate the energy in your house

Most of us give little thought to the way we use our homes. We just use the different rooms according to a series of cultural habits passed from generation to generation. So, most of us eat in the dining room, living room or kitchen, and wouldn't consider eating in our bedrooms.

Other people leave doors open, close the curtains at noon and always set the thermostat at 22ºC, all habits to which we don't give a second thought.

That’s why we want to set you a challenge: stop thinking of your house as a whole that is always on or off. Think again and consider it as a set of different rooms, with different uses that consume energy differently. If you heat only the room you are using and close all the doors, you can halve your bill. After all, what is the point of heating the bathroom or the guest room if you are going to spend the afternoon in the living room? Let's look at a specific example:

  • A person who works at home and wants to save energy. In a 75 m 2 home, the difference between heating the whole house and heating only the 15 m 2 room where you work means a saving of 80% on the most expensive item in the bill, the 50% spent on climate control that we mentioned at the beginning of the article.

 

3. Closed doors, open mind

It is very important to close doors, even in parts of the house you don't use. If a room opens onto a corridor that has a door to the main hallway (common in large houses), keeping both doors closed creates an intermediate air chamber similar to those found in high quality windows. Artificial insulation that absorbs losses.

We’ve already mentioned our grandmothers, who not only turned off lights around the house but also kept unused rooms closed. These habits are common in the elderly, particularly if they lived in rural areas highly dependent on a central fireplace for air conditioning: each open room cooled the heart of the house.

4. More efficient appliances

Using obsolete technology has a price. The energy labels on household appliances have improved significantly in recent years, and lagging behind will make you inefficient and wasteful. Let's look at some specific consumption data:

  • A 60x60 cm vertical refrigerator with an A + energy efficiency label can consume around 250 kWh per year. For an A ++ the figure is around 200 kWh and for an A +++, 150 kWh. Meanwhile, an old class D refrigerator uses 662 kWh per year. This means that an average consumer who replaces an old refrigerator for an A +++ class appliance will save more than 70 euros a year on the electricity consumed by the refrigerator.

That is to say: if you buy an A +++ fridge for 700 euros, it will pay for itself in ten years and start earning you a profit. Have you ever thought of buying a fridge as an investment? 

 

"Although a highly efficient refrigerator can be an expensive purchase, it will pay for itself in ten years and start earning you a profit."

 

5. Short showers, intense dishwashers

Changing your hygiene habits can also help you to make your euros go further. Although it is a less traditional method, putting your plates in the dishwasher instead of washing them in the sink will save you 30 litres of water every day, according to data from Canal de Isabel II.

Similarly, getting rid of the bathtub and replacing it with a shower encourages habits that lead to saving, cent by cent. And this is the key to getting the most from your energy budget: analyse as many of your habits as possible and make changes for a big overall impact.

Each minute in the shower uses between eight and 15 litres of water, a scarce, expensive resource. We recommend this content to learn how to save water in the shower.

6. The kitchen, the perfect place to save

The kitchen is an ideal place to save because there are so many cooking styles. Some people will find it difficult to change their habits.  That said, there are some general, basic tips that can work for everyone:

  • Cook in batches . If you are going to prepare the week’s food, use all the burners and the heat from one will help the other. We are talking about a few cents per dish, but they are free cents that you wouldn’t have otherwise. If you absolutely have to cook, then do it all at the same time.
  • Make several portions . Likewise, it is a good idea to make larger amounts at the same time, because you’ll use more or less the same amount of energy to make two dishes of macaroni as one. This kind of bulk cooking was a trick used by our grandmothers.
  • Make food that doesn’t require much cooking. Numerous fruits, vegetables, salads, dry fruits and pulses take no energy or very little energy to prepare because they are eaten cold or warm unlike fish and meat and precooked food.

 

7. Make the most of sunlight

LED lights are so efficient that they have significantly reduced the margin of improvement that existed compared to the now long-gone incandescent light bulbs. If you want to save on lighting and you already have LED bulbs, the key is the sun. Making the most of natural light is essential to making everyday savings, even for an expense (lighting) that accounts for only 4% of the average consumption of a Spanish home.

If you position the desk where our children study under a window, or put the sofa closer to the terrace, you can save a lot of energy .

Keep the blinds and curtains open during daylight hours, position your furniture where you can read using natural light, hang mirrors to bring natural light into the house, make use of local points of light instead of background lighting (a small table light rather than a ceiling light) to make less use of electric lighting.

Saving 25% on lighting will reduce your total annual energy bill by approximately 1%, which can be a significant improvement.

 

The same lifestyle for less money

We are used to measuring our lives in euros because that’s how we have been told that the world works. But if we really want to be efficient, we have to learn about other measures. For example: kilowatts of power and kilowatt hours of energy consumption.

There are already organisations such as the 2000 Watt Society that want society to get organised to consume fewer kilowatts each year, working together to make the entire planet more efficient.

One of the first steps towards efficiency is to stop thinking in absolute terms over which we have no control. For example: the electricity tariff is imposed on you and you have no option but to pay it. There are now electricity plans that let you choose to pay different prices at different times of the day and night. If you are interested, why not check out the Tempo Happy Rate.

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