Energy bills: How to save on appliance running costs

A smart meter on a kitchen work surface showing the households current energy consumption and costs
Millions of UK households will see their energy bills rocket as the price cap is hiked to £3,549 from October. Photo: Getty

Belts are tightening in response to rising prices and with energy bills sets to soar by 80% from 1 October, UK households are trying to find ways to cut costs this winter.

From cutting tumble dryer costs to smart heating controls, here are seven top tips from consumer group Which? to help you save on appliance running costs around the home.

1. Find out if you could get energy grants or free cash

Energy schemes and grants are available to help pay your energy bills or to support you with the costs of renewable heating.

The Warm Home Discount is available to pensioners and those who get certain benefits. It is a discount of £140 increasing to £150 in October 2022.

Read more: Energy inefficient homes face £6,600 bills from October

Those born before 26 September 1955 can claim a Winter Fuel Payment of £100 to £300 per winter. Check to see the government support you are entitled to.

Energy companies also have their own hardship funds you may be able to access.

2. Reduce washing machine costs

Under the new energy price cap, average annual washing machine running costs will increase from just over £63 to more than £117.

You can lower costs by avoiding running the machine repeatedly for small loads. It’s better to wait until you can fill the machine to about 80% full.

Unless clothes are stained, consider washing at 30°C, which will cut energy use by 38% on average compared to a 40°C wash, and a 20°C wash will use 62% less energy.

Energy bills continue to rise.
Energy bills continue to rise. Chart: Yahoo

3. Cut tumble dryer costs

Which?’s calculations found that average heat pump tumble dryer running costs will increase from £56 to £104 per year.

Condenser tumble dryers are the most energy-hungry and average running costs are already £140 — between two and three times higher than for a heat pump model — and will go up to £260 per year after the new price cap has taken effect.

The easiest way to save here is to consider other ways of drying laundry, such as hanging outdoors if you have access to an outdoor clothesline, or on an airer.

Watch: Energy cost saving tips for households preparing for winter

However, keep an eye out for signs of damp or mould caused by frequently drying laundry indoors and open windows where possible.

If you do need to use a tumble dryer, be sure to clean the lint filter every time you use it to help your dryer run as efficiently as possible and reduce the risk of fire.

4. Use your dishwasher correctly to save

The average running cost for a full-size dishwasher will rise from £83 to £153. For a slimline model, you'll be paying on average £136, up from £73.

The best way to save is to ensure you’re not over or under-filling the dishwasher. Wash full loads rather than running it for just a few items.

Read more: Cost of living crisis: Iceland giving £30 vouchers to pensioners

Be sure to arrange items properly to allow water and detergent to circulate around them and check you're using the right dishwasher program for how dirty they are.

Most dishwashers also come with an eco setting. Washing up by hand might seem like a cheaper option, but handwashing uses much more water than a dishwasher.

5. Fridge freezers

The average integrated fridge freezer currently costs £73 to run, which will rise to £136 in October.

Freestanding and American models cost £84 and £120 respectively to run, which will increase to £155 and £222 a year from October.

To ensure your fridge freezer is running as efficiently as possible, clean the condenser coils on the back, as dust on the coils can prevent the fridge from cooling properly.

Replace damaged door seals to ensure cold air cannot escape and be wasted and let food cool down completely before refrigerating.

6. Ovens

Built-in ovens don't cost as much to run as other key appliances, but it still pays to use yours efficiently.

On average, a built-in single electric oven costs £66 per year to run, which will rise to £122, while a single gas oven costs £20 which will rise to £43.

Read more: Millions falling short of decent standard of living amid cost of living crisis

It is possible to reduce costs by bulk cooking — cook larger amounts of food at a time, and eat them as meals spread across the week, rather than running the oven every day.

Defrost frozen food in advance in the fridge, so that your oven isn't having to work harder for longer to get it to the point that it's ready to be cooked.

Smaller appliances, such as air fryers or combi microwaves, might be more efficient than ovens for cooking small items.

7. Install and use central heating controls

Smart heating controls can cut your bills and improve your comfort by making better use of the heating energy you pay for.

Which? estimates that a medium-sized household could save at least £100 a year by using smart controls and cut the home’s carbon emissions by 320kg per year.

Savings can also be much higher, but it depends on the efficiency of your central heating as well as how you were heating your home before using a smart thermostat.

When using a smart thermostat, Which? recommends using zonal heating controls with radiator valves to vary the heating and schedule of different rooms.