7 practical tips for saving on electricity consumption

January has not only brought us the cold and snowstorm Filomena, which has frozen temperatures, but also a significant increase in the price of electricity.

Specifically, 27% more in the regulated rate price, going from €13.24 per kilowatt/hour at the beginning of 2020 to €16.81 in the first few days of 2021, according to the consumer organisation Facua. The price of electricity recorded its second highest level in history last Friday, January 8, at 95 euros per megawatt/ hour (MWh).

Why has the price of electricity gone up?

This rise in electricity prices is due to a large increase in demand due to the low temperatures and the greater use of diesel and coal for electricity production, to the detriment of renewable energies from the sun or wind, which are scarcer because of the adverse weather conditions, but cheaper and more sustainable.

How does the rise in electricity prices affect Spanish homes?

This increase affects those households with an indexed rate regulated by the wholesale electricity market – similar to the Stock Market – and with different amounts each hour, which will make the always the ‘January crunch’ even harder for these families, which comprise 11 million people in Spain. According to Facua, the electricity bill for a standard home will exceed 80 euros a month, compared to 67 euros a month on average.

To find out what type of electricity rate we have, we need to check the contract information on the electricity bill. If the ‘PVPC rate’ (Voluntary Price for Small Consumers in Spanish) or ‘regulated rate’ appears, then the electricity increase will affect us. Faced with this situation, aided by our Green division we’ve prepared a guide with the keys for saving on your electricity bill, regardless of the type of rate contracted, and thus help alleviate 2021’s ‘January crunch’.

1. Natural light:

We should make the most of all hours of sunlight with the curtains and blinds open to let natural light in. And of course, always turn the light off if it isn’t being used or isn’t strictly necessary.

2. LED bulbs:

The type of light bulb has a major impact on our electricity bill. Opting for LEDs instead of incandescent ones can save us over 80% since they need much less energy to work and give off the same amount of light. In addition, they last much longer: 9 years on average, compared to a year and a half for traditional bulbs. Likewise, LED bulbs are more efficient and provide greater savings than halogen or low-consumption type bulbs.

We can also reduce the number of bulbs per room, since in many cases a lamp has more than are needed or there are two spotlights very close together. Some of these bulbs can be removed, or instead of two, we can use a single but more powerful one that consumes less electricity.

3. Saving on electronic devices:

We recommend fully charging the battery in airplane mode, not leaving electrical appliances in standby mode in order to reduce the bill by 10% a year, or replacing normal screens with LCDs to save up to 37% in energy. These are some money-saving tricks when using electronic devices.

4. Real vs. contracted power:

Normally, we contract more electric power than we need to use, and this means that we pay a higher price than we really need. It’s therefore advisable to check the electric power that we’ve contracted; that is, the number of devices that can be plugged in at the same time without the power cutting out. How? By adding up the consumption of all the electrical appliances in the home and using this amount to contract the power needed. Electric heating uses up a lot of electricity and needs between 1,000 – 2,000W of power, although if it’s low-consumption heating, it falls to 400-800W. The oven, the washing machine and the dishwasher are the appliances that need the most power, at 1,200–2,200W, 1,500W and 2,200W respectively.

5. Differentiated timeslot rates:

Both for homes with a regulated rate or VPSC and for those that adjust their electricity bill according to the free market, we may turn to the advantages of a differentiated timeslot rate. In order to do this, we need to concentrate a large part of our electricity consumption (at least 30%) in a time slot running from 10p.m. to 12p.m. all year round and from 11p.m. to 1p.m. in summer. These would therefore be the best times for us to put the washing machine or dishwasher on, cook or charge electronic devices, and avoid the normally more expensive times (2p.m.-5p.m. and 9p.m.-10p.m.). In homes with a PVPC rate, it’s better to concentrate electricity consumption at the weekend, which tends to be more economical.

6. Efficient use in electric heating

The higher the number of degrees, the higher the heating costs. On average, for every less degree, 7-11% of energy is saved. The ideal temperature is around 19-21 degrees, and not exceeding 16 degrees at night is recommended. In addition, it’s advisable to use automatic temperature regulation thermostats, as well as wearing winter-appropriate clothes at home and not having radiators in rooms that aren’t used regularly.

7. Sensible use of kitchen appliances:

These devices lead to a significant cost in electricity bills, and with a few little tricks we can reduce them:

  • Don’t overuse the oven for cooking, as it’s one of the heaviest-consuming electrical appliances. When using it, don’t open it several times because it loses temperature and consumes more since it has to heat up again.
  • Make the most of residual heat from the ceramic hob and rings, turning them off a few minutes before the food is ready.
  • Avoid opening and closing the refrigerator too often and keep it at a temperature of 5º for refrigeration and -18º for freezing.
  • When washing clothes, setting the washing machine at a temperature between 40-60º leads to a 40% saving.

The weather situation and the pandemic make us spend much more time than usual at home, which will have an impact on household spending. So if we use these tricks we’ll be able to reduce our electricity bill, we’ll make the ‘January crunch’ more bearable and contribute to sustainability and energy efficiency to benefit the planet as well.