Common energy-saving myths busted - from putting clingfilm on windows to painting radiators black

Many households across Ireland are struggling with the soaring cost of living, with energy bills among their major concerns.

Last week, the Government announced a €400 million-plus cost of living package, which includes giving every home in Ireland €200 off energy bills.

However the effort has been dismissed by Opposition TDs as not going nearly far enough.

With this in mind, there are several hacks for budgeting and cutting down on energy consumption.

Some simple ones like wearing jumpers and turning lights off are well known and effective - but some are more of a myth than anything else, The Mirror reports.

From keeping your heating on all day to putting clingfilm on your windows, MoneySavingExpert has explained the most common questions and disputed claims on energy saving.

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or only turn it on when I need it?

According to the British Energy Saving Trust, the idea that it's cheaper to leave heating on low all day is a myth. The best thing to do is turn it on only when you need it, which helps save energy and money.

Since a certain amount of energy is constantly leaking out of your home - depending on the effectiveness of your insulation - keeping your heating on throughout the day means that you're actually losing energy all day.

What if I put clingfilm on the windows?

This is actually an effective trick to keep your house warm. The idea is that putting a sheet on your window traps a small layer of air, which can help stop heat escaping.

The Energy Saving Trust says that you can use any material for the second layer of glazing, as long as it's transparent and airtight.

However, while clingfilm is a quick and cheap option, it would always serve you better to use specialist secondary glazing as this will last longer.

In case your windows are draughty, it's worth fixing that as well as adding secondary glazing, so that you get the full benefit.

Should I keep the hot water boiler on all the time, or turn it on and off as needed?

If you have a gas, oil or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) central heating system, experts advise that it will always be cheaper to set the system timer so the hot water comes on only when required.

Common energy-saving myths busted - from putting clingfilm on windows to painting radiators black

However, if you use an electrical immersion heater and have an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, it will be cheaper to heat your water during the night. But make sure your tank is well insulated to prevent it cooling during the day.

Do devices on standby or chargers left in the socket still use electricity?

British Gas says that chargers and appliances left in a socket can use energy. A lot of devices, such as games consoles, laptops and TVs, draw small amounts of power when not in use but are still plugged in and turned on at the socket.

This is called 'vampire power' and it can be easily avoided by turning devices off at the wall when not in use.

However, there is some debate around this topic because while the Energy Saving Trust says you can save about £35 (€41 ) a year by turning off your appliances at the plug, a recent report from The Sunday Times has said that you'd need 38 massive TVs to achieve this.

The report also said that most modern devices consume much less power while on standby than they used to, so you might not end up saving all that much by turning things off at the plug, though you still would save a little.

Will smart meters save me money?

No - at least not on their own. Smart meters simply replace your existing gas and electricity meters, measure your usage and automatically send meter readings to your supplier each month.

But they can still be helpful in identifying ways to save energy via the in-home display that comes with your smart meter.

Is it cheaper to use radiators or electric heaters?

Electric heaters are one of the most expensive forms of heating, according to the Energy Saving Trust. The cheapest way on the other hand is using an efficient gas central heating system, with a full set of thermostatic radiator valves, a room thermostat and a timer.

Should I run appliances at night?

If you're on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff, you'll pay less during the night, but higher during the day. However, if you're on another tariff it doesn't really matter when you run appliances.

However, do make sure to check its safe to do if you decide to run any appliance at night. If you're unsure what tariff you're on, check your latest energy bill or ask your energy company.

Would painting my radiators black or putting reflective panels behind them help?

No, according to the Energy Saving Trust. It's best to keep them the standard white. However, reflective panels behind the radiators can help save energy.

While the colour of your radiator doesn't make much difference to the amount of energy consumed, putting reflective panels behind radiators will help reflect heat from the radiator back into the room, so it doesn't escape through external walls.

The trust also says homes with uninsulated walls will get most benefit from the reflective panels.

If my heating is on, should I keep doors open or closed for each room?

If you don't have heating on in a room, it's better to keep doors for that room closed, the Energy Saving Trust has advised.

Radiators, electric panel heaters and convection heaters all work by creating a convection current in a room. This means that as hot air rises it circles around the room, cools and sinks back to the floor to be heated again.

Closing doors makes sure this current remains within the designated space, and stops cold air entering.

Should you leave your heating on if you're going away?

The Energy Saving Trust recommends you leave the heating on to some degree during winter, even if you're not there, because the helps prevent frozen pipes, which can cause hundreds of euros of damage.

Should I use a tumble dryer, or place washing on a rack with heating on?

Tumble dryers use a lot of energy so its better to air dry your clothes when the heating is on. However, drying clothes indoors can cause problems with condensation and dampness, so whenever the weather allows, dry your clothes outside.

If you need to dry clothes indoors, the National House Building Council advises that we open the window and close the door of the room where the clothes are drying, so moisture can escape rather than circulate around your home.