10 of the best energy-saving products that every home needs this winter
These days, everything is sold as an 'energy saving product'. It's the marketing buzzword of the 2020s and no wonder, with the cost of living at an all time high and gas and electricity becoming increasingly unaffordable. But how much of it is true and how much is simply to make a sale? The best energy saving products shouldn't leave you in any doubt of their benefits.
Some energy saving devices are expensive up-front investments, like heated airers, electric heaters and electric blankets. Others are more affordable, like smart plugs and smart bulbs. The trick is working out how long the products will take to pay for themselves.
To get to the bottom of it all, we've spoken to energy saving experts and asked for their advice on which power saving devices are worth the money. Scroll down to find out which made the grade. If you're in a hurry, here's a quick glance at their top five:
The best energy saving products, at a glance
Best heated airer: Dry:Soon Three Tier Heated Airer, £159.99
Best smart plug: Tapo Smart Plug, £28.99 for four
Best electric blanket: Beurer Monogram Dual Control, £95
Best electric heater: Dimplex 1.5kW Radiator, £89.99
Best air fryer: Tefal ActiFry Air Fryer, £142
How we chose the best energy saving products
Our experts are Ben Gallizzi, energy expert at Uswitch.com, and Joanna O'Loan, knowledge manager at Energy Saving Trust. We sought their opinions on the products most commonly sold as 'energy-saving'. We wanted to know how much money you'd realistically save, compared to other available products. Their estimations are based on the current average prices of roughly 34p per kiloWatt hour for electricity and 10p per kiloWatt hour for gas.
Many of these have been rigorously tried and tested on The Telegraph's Recommended channel, or recommended by independent experts. Here are our suggestions on the 11 best products to save money in your home.
The best energy saving products
1. Heated clothes airer
Low energy compared to a tumble dryer
We recommend: Dry:Soon 3-Tier Heated Airer, £159.99
Heated clothes airers offer a means of drying clothes in winter without the need for an expensive tumble dryer. Two hours of heated airer drying versus one tumble dryer cycle will save you £1.53 each time, according to Uswitch.com energy expert Ben Gallizzi.
"Heated clothes airers are a great alternative to tumble dryers, which are one of the most energy intensive appliances in the home. Using a 230 Watt clothes airer for two hours would cost almost 16p under the energy price guarantee, while drying a load of washing in a C-rated tumble dryer consumes 5,000 Watts on average, which would cost £1.70 for one load," he says.
Using a heated airer is more practical than just energy saving. It can also prolong the lifespan of clothes by several years, since it's far gentler than tumble drying. You can even dry the likes of cashmere and wool by laying the clothing items flat on the shelves.
Lakeland's Dry:Soon 3-Tier heated airer topped The Telegraph's recommended list of the best heated clothes airers. We specifically recommend it for large families or anyone with a sizeable wardrobe. It holds up to 15kg of washing, costs 15p per hour to use, and is tall enough for trousers and towels. You can also buy a cover which keeps the heat in, drying the clothes more quickly.
2. Smart plug
Saves the energy wasted by leaving appliances on standby
We recommend: Tapo Smart Plug, £28.99 for four
Smart plugs are essentially remote controls for plugs, controlled by voice or from your smartphone. They sit between your regular socket and device plug.
It might seem a small, picky thing, but Joanna O'Loan from Energy Saving Trust says you can actually save around £65 per year by remembering to turn your appliances off at the wall instead of leaving them in standby. Gallizzi from Uswitch adds, "Smart plugs let you control your sockets, often via an app on your phone, and can help reduce wasted energy. How much you save will depend on the gadgets you leave plugged in."
This pack of four sold on Amazon is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control and can also be controlled via the free Tapo app on your phone. Once downloaded, the app will find the plugs easily and you can rename them to things like 'heater', 'lamp' and 'TV'. You can also use the app to set schedules, so that devices switch on and off at given times.
Price for four at
3. Electric blanket
Low energy compared to heating the whole bedroom
We recommend: Beurer Monogram Dual Control, £95
Electric blankets are exceptionally low energy. The Beurer Monogram Dual Control above, which topped The Telegraph's list of the best electric blankets, uses just 100 Watts per hour, equating to 3p. It has with six heat settings and we liked its even warmth distribution and soft, machine-washable fleece.
Gallizzi is a big fan of electric blankets, saying: "Using one for an hour a night for a week would cost just nine pence. Using an electric blanket to warm the bed may mean you can turn the temperature of your thermostat down or off while you sleep. Turning your thermostat down by just one degree could save you around £145 a year off your heating bill."
O'Loan recommends sticking to the lowest setting, which will cost the least and still take the chill off. However, she is skeptical about using them as a complete replacement to heating.
"While we’re all looking for ways to save money on our heating bills, relying on heated products instead of heating our homes can increase the risk of condensation, damp and mould. It’s therefore advisable to frequently have some heating on in the colder months, to keep your walls warm and prevent condensation," she says.
4. Electric heater
Can save money compared to central heating, but only if used wisely
We recommend: Dimplex 1.5kW Radiator, £100.99
Electric heaters no longer save as much money as you might think compared to heating, with gas prices now cheaper than standard rate electricity. Instead, both energy saving experts Gallizzi and O'Loan recommend turning valves down on radiators in rooms you're not using.
O'Loan says if you do need to use an electric heater, be sure to place it in the part of your room you need warm, a safe distance from you and any furniture. "Some heaters have a thermostat and timer which you can set to avoid using more energy than you need," she adds.
Not all electric heaters are electricity-guzzling machines and they can be useful if you only want to heat one room of the house. The Dimplex radiator came second in our review of the best electric heaters. It uses 17p, 34p or 51p per hour depending on the power setting and has an effective thermostat to save you wasting energy on heating a room that's already at your desired temperature.
5. Air fryer
Low energy compared to a conventional oven
We recommend: Tefal ActiFry Air Fryer, £142
Air fryers – first invented by Phillips in 2010 – have exploded in popularity in the last two years. They're basically mini convection ovens, using powerful fans to quickly heat food. How air fryers save money is two-fold: they consume less energy than regular ovens thanks to their smaller size, and also cook food in half the time (while keeping it crispy). They also require less oil, which appeals to healthy eaters.
Uswitch's Galizzi explains that a meal cooked for 15 minutes in a 1,500 Watt air fryer would cost 13p, compared to 34p for a meal cooked for 30 minutes in a conventional oven. That may not sound a lot, but it amounts to nearly £50 in a month. "If you're only using one shelf of the oven for a meal, an air fryer may be a more effective way of cooking it. Air fryers can work out cheaper as they take less time to heat up and have a shorter cooking time," he says.
O'Loan from Energy Saving Trust makes the point that they only work out cheaper if you're cooking a small portion. "If you are preparing larger quantities of food, it might actually be more cost effective to use an oven because you will be able to fit more in. When using either, you should avoid opening the door or compartment any more than necessary as this lets hot air out and wastes energy," she says.
The Tefal Actifry above topped The Telegraph's list of the best air fryers. It uses 1,400 Watts per hour, costing 48p, which is slightly below the average for air fryers. It has a capacity of 1.2kg, enough for about six portions of food. The basket automatically rotates inside the fryer for even results. The clear lid means you can track the progress of your food without taking it off and wasting heat, as O'Loan recommends.
6. Energy Monitor
Helps to manage energy usage
We recommend: Power Meter Plug Energy Monitor, £17.39
Energy monitors do what they say on the tin: they let you see how much energy you're using and how you are using it, which can help you to manage energy consumption and lower bills. They're slightly different to smart meters since they only track one appliance, rather than the entire household energy use. The concept of becoming aware of how much energy you're using is the same.
It's difficult to quantify the cash benefit of owning a power monitor. But Gallizzi says customers who use Uswitch's app Utrack to track energy usage often end up saving money. He explains, "One household reported that they had cut their energy costs by £30 a month after using the app to discover how much a dehumidifier running 24 hours a day was costing them. They now only use it when necessary.
“Another user said they noticed unexpected spikes in their gas use at unusual hours, increasing their bills from 10p to £1 a day. After investigating, they found a fault with their boiler that meant it was turning on at random times, and managed to solve the problem before they received an unexpectedly high energy bill.”
A simple, budget power monitor, like the Power Meter above from Amazon, can measure and display voltage, current, energy, frequency, power factor, maximum current and power, total day's cost and total wattage used.
7. Energy Saving Kettle
Lower energy compared to a regular kettle
We recommend: Bosch Styline Kettle, £60
The average Briton boils a kettle four times a day, according to Energy Saving Trust. A 3,000 Watt kettle will take around two and a half minutes to boil one litre of water, costing 4p each time. That's 16p per day, without taking into account extra water boiled for pasta, hot water bottles, or more than four cups of tea. Again, it sounds trifling, but that's £4.96 per month and £58.40 per year.
O'Loan explains that energy saving kettles, often known as eco kettles, waste less electricity because they only boil the amount of water required, using 20 per cent less energy than a conventional electric kettle. Both O'Loan and Gallizzi add that if you do have a regular kettle, avoid overfilling with more water than you need. "This alone could save you £13 a year on your electricity bill," says O'Loan
The Bosch Styline Kettle topped The Telegraph's list of the best kettles thanks to its eco-selector, which allows you to choose your preferred 'boiling' temperature. It also has a keep warm function that maintains the temperature of the water for 30 minutes,which saves time and energy by reducing the need to reboil the kettle. There's no function to only boil an allotted amount of water, so you'll have to take our experts' advice by only filling the kettle with the right amount.
Speeds up the drying of clothes, saving money compared to tumble drying
We recommend: Honeywell 24L Small Energy Dehumidifier, £238.95 (available for pre-order)
Drying clothes on a rack or indoor clothes line during the winter months can take days and can lead to condensation and mould on walls and ceilings. Meanwhile tumble dryers, as we have seen, can cost around £1.70 per cycle.
Dehumidifiers allow you to avoid both extremes. They work by removing moisture from the air, collecting it in an internal drip tray which you empty every so often. Energy expert Gallizzi says, "Dehumidifiers are one of the best ways to deal with damp rooms and, with the average appliance using 185 Watts, they will only cost you 6p an hour in electricity."
The Honeywell Dehumidifier, above, topped The Telegraph's recent review of the best dehumidifiers. It's currently only available to pre-order, due to an unprecedented surge in demand which has hit the entire dehumidifier industry. (Everyone seemed to catch on to their money-saving benefits at the same time.)
Designed for larger rooms, the powerful Honeywell draws 330 Watts, costing approximately 17p per hour of use, which is still far less than a tumble dryer. It stands at a little over half a metre and is easily manoeuvrable with wheels. The smart digital thermostat senses the moisture levels of your room, allowing you to maintain a pre-programmed humidity level without wasting energy.
9. Radiator Reflector
Lower energy compared to turning the radiator up
We recommend: SuperFOIL Radpack Thermal Reflective Radiator, £19.99
On the cheap end of the scale, radiator reflectors are a thin sheet of reflective material placed between the back of a radiator and the wall. The result is extra heat reflected back into your living space at no extra energy cost.
"Radiator reflectors cost as little as £14 for a roll but some products claim to reduce heat loss by up to half. With the average household spending more than £900 a year on central heating, based on Ofgem figures, even a five per cent efficiency saving would cut your gas bill by £45. At a time when energy prices are so high, small investments in energy saving devices can pay off," says Gallizzi.
Energy knowledge expert O'Loan agrees, but warns that radiator panels only have a noticeable effect on uninsulated external walls. You will see little difference on insulated and internal walls, she says.
If you do have a radiator on an uninsulated external wall, something like the SuperFOIL Radpack radiator reflector above is an affordable option. It can be cut to size and fitted to walls using self-adhesive pads.
10. Infrared Heating Panel
Lower energy compared to electric convection or fan heaters
We recommend: Electric Panel Heater Infrared, £129.99
Traditional electric heaters heat the air using longwave infrared radiation, which does not travel far: you will feel the heat rising in a column or plume. Shortwave infrared radiation, as used in the new generation of infrared heating panels, travels much further and is not absorbed by the air it passes through. It heats the surfaces it touches, and is commonly described as feeling like the warmth of the sun on your skin.
Gallizzi says, “Infrared heating panels can be much more efficient than other heating methods, with manufacturers claiming they can reduce your bills by up to 60 per cent. They come in a variety of different powers, with models from 200 Watts to 700 Watts proving popular, but you’ll need to find the model that suits the room it will be in.”
The Electric Panel Heater from Amazon, above, draws 720 Watts, costing around 24p per hour. Less than an inch thick, it can be mounted on the wall or ceiling or kept free-standing, saving space in smaller rooms.
11. Smart Bulb
Lower energy compared to regular bulbs
We recommend: Phillips Smart LED Dimmable bulb, £14.99
Ever lain awake on holiday worrying that you left the lights on at home? Allow us to introduce you to smart bulbs. They connect to your phone or voice assistant, allowing you to control them remotely. Some can be set to turn on when you walk through the door.
"Switching your lights off when you're not using them will save you around £25 per year on your energy bill," says O'Loan. Gallizzi adds that smart bulbs are usually LED light bulbs, which save on CO2 as well as energy bills.
The Philips Smart LED above can be controlled with voice commands, or via the free WiZ app on your phone – even when you're not in the house. It can also turn on and off and change colour according to set schedules.