Money Wellness
Image of a woman wrapped up warm drinking a hot drink with snow coming down around her
category iconcost of living
calendar icon16 Jan 2024

Nine keep warm myths that’ll cost you more and make you shiver

With the energy price cap set to rise again in January and many households facing a challenging winter ahead, keeping warm cheaply and bills low is firmly top peoples’ agendas.

Done right, making little changes to your usage can make big savings on energy bills. But with so much advice about – many of it conflicting and outdated – how can you be sure that the changes you make will reduce or increase your usage? 

We've investigated some of the top tips and old wives’ tales doing the rounds and have debunked the myths that might be costing you more.

Here’s nine energy myths to avoid:

Myth: Grab a coffee to keep warm

When you’re feeling cold, your first instinct could be to grab a coffee or even a whisky to warm up, but you’re making a mistake. Both caffeine and alcohol speed up your body’s heat loss.

Alcohol prevents you from shivering, which is your body’s way of warming up. It might warm your skin, but your core body temperature will remain low. Caffeine affects blood vessels, which has a direct impact on the ability of your hands and feet to keep warm.

Instead choose a warm glass of water or even a hot chocolate to warm up.

Myth: Wear a hat

It’s an old wives’ tale that we lose the most about of body head through our heads so we should always wear a hat. It isn’t true – there’s nothing special about our heads, we lose body heat from every part of our bodies that are exposed. Therefore, wrapping up warm with layers - including a hat- will ensure you stay toasty.

Myth: Washing up by hand is cheaper than using a dishwasher

It’s often thought that washing up by hand is cheaper and more energy efficient than using the dishwasher, but this isn’t always true. Appliances such as dishwashers and tumble dryers get a bad reputation for being energy vampires and, while tumble dryers are serious offenders, dishwashers can be energy-saving if used correctly. Modern dishwashers don’t use any of your home’s hot water supply as they use cold water and heat internally - so less hot water means less energy being used.

Always fully-load the dishwasher for maximum saving and be careful not to over-load otherwise the dishes won’t come out clean. Stack properly so that ever dish and pan surface is accessible to the water jets. Use the eco-setting which heats the water more slowly and therefore uses less energy and always turn the dishwasher off completely when not in use.

Alternatively, you could cut down the cost of handwashing by filling up a small bowl of water and just using that instead of letting the tap run throughout.

Myth: Opening the oven door to check your food doesn’t waste energy

While it can be tempting to check if your meal is nearly ready, opening the oven door does waste energy. Every time the door is opened, the temperature inside is reduced by as much as 25 degrees, delaying the progress of your cooking and costing you money. If you need to check on your food, try using the oven light instead.

Myth: Crank up the thermostat

Cranking up the thermostat to a higher temperature won’t heat a room more quickly. E.g., you arrive home, and your house is freezing so you crank up the heating to 25 degrees - even though you usually have it set to 20 - to it up warmer quicker. The thing is, it takes the same length of time as it would do to reach its normal temperature – all you’re doing is ensuring it continues to rise after that point, achieving nothing other than using more energy and costing more.

You’d be better off installing a ‘smart’ energy system that you can operate from your phone and turn on to heat the house when you’re on your way home.

Myth: It's cheaper to keep the heating on low all day

It’s long been a myth that leaving your heating on all day at a lower temperature will cost less than what it costs to bring your home up to temperature when it’s been switched off. But, put simply, if your heating is on it is using fuel and costing you money. If it’s off it’s costing nothing.

If your home is well insulated, it’ll retain heat and the heating doesn’t need to be on constantly. Keep bills down by setting your heating set to come on and off at set times.

Myth: Turning the lights on and off uses more electricity than leaving them on

This myth has been doing the rounds for years and it’s no more true now than it was then! If you’re leaving a room, get into the habit of turning the light off – this will save you money. Turning the light back on when you return will use less electricity than leaving the light on while you’ve been out of the room.

Myth: Most heat escapes through windows

Surprisingly, this is false. The truth is that the majority of heat escapes through walls and any gaps around windows and doors. An even higher proportion disappears through your roof, which is my insulation is so important. Your windows only account for around 10% of heat loss.

Myth: Chargers don’t use energy when they’re not being used

Phone and laptop chargers still pull energy even when they’re not connected to a device. With most members of the family having at least one electrical device, it’s worth going around the house and making sure they’re not left if the plug socket when not in use. What’s more, disconnecting them will also extend the life of the charger too.

Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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