Are you adding £100s to your energy bills with these household mistakes?

If you want to keep your bills as low as possible, make sure you're not making these energy-hungry errors. But if you are, we have the solutions

worried woman looking at her energy bill by an open window at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Could you be wasting energy at home without realising it? While millions of families have been facing sky-high energy prices for months, many have been trying all they can to reduce how much energy they use. Even with the Energy Price Guarantee in place, we're all paying more for our energy than ever before.

But while concern about how much our energy bills will cost is still rife, it's never been more important to uncover those less obvious mistakes that you might be making at home that will be adding hundreds of pounds to your energy bill each year. 

Speaking of ways we can all reduce our energy usage, Mark Sait, CEO of SaveMoneyCutCarbon,  says: "What needs to happen is finding a way to be smarter with energy use. This can start with the least cost-effective way - changing behaviour, such as switching off appliances that aren't in use. Or, it can be low-cost, sustainable swaps, like swapping to LED lightbulbs. Small changes make a big difference. Not everyone can afford big solar panels, electric cars and so on, so education, behaviour change, community and coming together will make the biggest difference."

1. Having radiators on in rooms you rarely use

This mistake is a really easy one to go unnoticed. When you put your central heating on, it heats all of the rooms in your home that have a radiator. But you could be wasting money by heating more radiators than you need to. 

For example, if you have a spare room at home, try turning off the radiator in that room to avoid heating a room you don't need to. But make sure you close the door to the room to prevent the heat you generate in rooms you do use from escaping and warming up a room you don't. 

If you're at home during the day and find you spend most of the time in one or two rooms, you could try turning off the radiators in all the other rooms to see how much money you could save. 

It's also a good idea to determine the cheapest way to heat a room to make sure you're not heating anywhere unnecessarily. 


Turn off radiators in rooms you aren't using. Turning off a radiator isn't permanent, so you can easily turn the radiator back on when you need to warm the room up. If you're not sure how to turn off your radiator, we've found this handy video to help. 

2. Leaving doors open

Even if you have all external doors and windows closed, leaving internal doors open at home can make each room feel a little bit colder. This is especially the case if you leave a door to the stairs open. Hot air rises (because it's lighter than cold air) so if you leave the door to your stairs open, any heat you've generated downstairs will head upstairs. 

This might mean you turn your thermostat up by an extra degree or put the heating on for longer to stay warm. But this will be adding money to your energy bills. 


Get into the habit of keeping all internal doors closed unless you are passing through them - you could try and turn it into a game with your children to encourage them to do it too. 

A draught excluder can also help to keep the warmth in.

3. Having the heating on low all day

Leaving your heating on low all day might seem like a money-saving idea, but it'll actually cost you more money. 

Rather than having your heating on all day, it's more cost-effective to have it on at a couple of key times of the day, and then do what you can to keep the heat in. You might also want to try some cheap ways to keep warm if you get chilly while the heating is off to keep your bills as low as they can be. 

How many hours a day the heating should be on will depend on your lifestyle - if you leave the house for work during the day, then you might find that having your heating on for a couple of hours first thing in the morning, and then again for a couple of hours in the evening is plenty. But if you are at home in the day, especially with small children, you'll likely want the heating on for a couple of hours in the middle of the day too. 

Martyn Bridges, Director of Technical Services at Worcester Bosch, with more than 40-years experience in the heating industry, adds: "“Most people who use their heating intermittently have the heating come on for perhaps up to two hours in the morning and anywhere between 2-6 hours in the evening. There’s no set recommendation and much of this depends upon how quickly your house heats up in the cold, whether someone is in the house all day or what type of heating system you have."


Programme your heating system to come on at key times of the day rather than having it on all the time. If you don't have your instruction manual, look on your heating control panel for make and model and you should be able to look at the manual online. 

4. Turning your thermostat up to heat the room quicker

Sadly, turning a thermostat up higher will not heat your home up quicker. Your heating system will still take the same amount of time to get to the required temperature. But turning the thermostat up will significantly add to your energy bills. 

A better solution is to set your heating to come on at key times of the day when you are likely to be home. And if you feel chilly, try adding an extra layer, having a warm drink, or using a blanket until you can feel the effects of the central heating. 

You might also be interested in these other cheap heating myths that will actually cost money rather than saving it.


Keep your thermostat between 18 and 21°C and opt for a hot drink, extra layer or blanket until the radiators are up to temperature.

5. Blocking radiators with furniture

For radiators to work effectively, and for you to feel the benefits, the air around a radiator needs to be able to circulate freely. But blocking radiators with furniture can get in the way of that, meaning your not getting the full effect of having your heating on. This can mean you then go and turn your thermostat up, or pop the heating on for an extra hour to feel warm. 

But if you can rejig your furniture to free up the space around your radiator, it's well worth doing. Temporarily removing radiator covers can also help. 

Even if the size or layout of your room only allows you to free up part of the radiator, it will help your home feel warmer. If you have no other choice but to block a radiator with furniture, try to pull the furniture forward rather than having it pressed up against the radiator. That will help the heat circulate better, even if it's not a perfect solution. 


Move furniture away from radiators where you can. If that's not possible, try to increase the space between the furniture and the radiator to help air flow.

6. Drying clothes on radiators

Just like blocking a radiator with furniture, drying clothes on a radiator can also affect how effectively it heats your home. When your radiator isn't working effectively, you're more likely to use more energy by turning up the thermostat or having your heating on longer than you need to. 


Try to dry clothes outside when you can, or opt for a clothes horse standing over the bath, or even a heated clothes dryer, rather than your radiators. (We've ranked the cheapest way to dry clothes if you need some tips). If drying clothes on a radiator is your only option, try to put the smallest, lightest items on the radiator of the room you are in. These are likely to have the smallest impact on the radiator's effectiveness.

7. Not bleeding your radiators

Next time your heating comes on, carefully check the temperatures of all your radiators. If you find one that is cold at the top, but hot at the bottom, it's likely that you have a build up of air in the radiator. This means you won't be getting the maximum amount of heat out of your radiator, you'll feel colder and you're more likely to turn your thermostat up to compensate. 

This build up of air needs to be 'bled' so that you can get your radiator working efficiently again. But you don't need a plumber - bleeding a radiator is a simple task that anyone can do - you'll just need a cloth, a towel and a radiator bleeding key.


Bleed your radiators to get rid of air build up from the system. Make sure your heating is off and the radiators are cold before you attempt to bleed them.

8. Drying clothes in your tumble dryer

Tumble dryers are energy-hungry appliances. Not only do they need energy to spin, but they need energy to produce heat too. If you have a tumble dryer, it's a good idea to reduce how often you use it in order to keep your energy bills as low as they can be. 

Not sure how to dry clothes without a tumble dryer? There are a few alternatives that are worth a try, or you could set yourself a challenge for reducing how often you use your tumble dryer each week. You could try only using it for bedding and towels, but dry clothes by a cheaper method.

It's also a good idea to take this plea from Martin Lewis on board about what time you run your washing machine and tumble dryer. Avoiding peak times could help you save money if your supplier is taking part in the Demand Flexibility Service or if you are on a time of use tariff like Economy 7 where electricity is cheaper at night. But if we all try to avoid using energy-hungry appliances at peak times, we can also help avoid the chance of blackouts if National Grid struggles with supply.


Look for alternative ways to dry your clothes. If you do use your tumble dryer, try to stick to off peak times, such as after 7pm.

9. Not using eco modes

When using appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers, it's all too easy to turn them on hit go, relying on the machine's default settings. But this can mean you're paying more than you need to in terms of energy. 

Newer washing machines and dishwashers tend have eco-friendly settings that often involve longer cycles at cooler temperatures that use much less energy than standard or intensive settings. According to our sister site The Money Edit, the average household can save £37 per year, just by using the eco mode on their washing machine, instead of the standard one. 

Worried you won't get a good enough clean at a cooler temperature? Most detergents work just as well at cooler temperatures and the longer cycles make sure items come out just as clean as a standard cycle. 


Use eco mode for standard cleaning cycles. Reserve the standard or intensive cycles, which use higher temperatures, for those items that are particularly dirty - like muddy PE kits or soiled bedsheets. 

10. Not asking to move from a prepayment meter

If you have a prepayment meter, where you pay for your energy in advance of using it, it's likely you're paying more for your energy than if you had a standard credit meter. 

Prepayment meters have been in the news recently after stories emerged of energy suppliers forcibly switching those struggling to pay their energy bills to prepayment meters. But huge objections, including from Citizens Advice, means that this practice may be banned. 

Don't forget too that until the end of March 2023, those on traditional prepayment meters should receive vouchers as part of the £400 energy rebate scheme. But latest figures suggest that about £50m worth of vouchers have gone unclaimed. 


Speak to your energy supplier and ask to be moved to a standard meter instead of a prepayment one. You should also check that they have your correct details on file so that you can receive your money off voucher. If you have vouchers that have expired, your supplier should be able to reissue them, but you may need to use them quickly before the replacement expires too.

11. Using wet appliances without a full load

If you've ever found yourself using your dishwasher or washing machine without a full load, just to keep on top of chores, now is a good time to reconsider. These appliances use the same amount of energy whether you fill them to the maximum capacity or not. 

Find out how much it costs to run a washing machine or how much a dishwasher costs to run with our handy running cost guides. 


To get the best value for money on the energy you're paying for, don't run these appliances if you don't have a full load. This can also mean that you reduce how often you use these appliances, which is also good news for your energy bills. 

Instead, you could hold off until you have enough for a full load, or if you need to wash something urgently, think about washing it by hand in the sink. 

You could also try this hack to save money every time you wash up.

Sarah Handley
Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor and is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around childcare costs, child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language.