Gas and electricity bills for millions of households across Scotland and the rest of the UK will increase by £693 from April after Ofgem, the industry regulator, reviewed its cap on energy bills.
The upcoming rise of 54 per cent means the average household energy bill will soar to an eye-watering £1,971 per year and may go up even further in October, according to the latest analysis by Martin Lewis and his MoneySavingExpert.com team.
The price hike will undoubtedly put more financial pressure on households, especially the vulnerable, those on lower incomes and the thousands of employees now working from home on a permanent or hybrid basis.
So, if you’re busy trying to figure out ways to budget your energy bills without making too many compromises, Deyan Dimitrov, laundry expert and CEO of Laundryheap, has shared some clever hacks for keeping the washing cycle going this winter - including the cheapest time of day to stick a load on.
He explains how there are seven simple changes you can make to your laundry routine that will keep your clothes in mint condition, and your washing machine and tumble dryer operating at their most efficient levels.
Deyan's advice includes avoiding periods of increased energy demand by running your machines later in the day, favouring cooler washing and drying cycles, and making sure not to overfill your basins with too many clothes.
There are certain times at which running your washing machine or tumble dryer can eat up your energy bill, as increased demand can make electricity more expensive depending on your tariff.
The most expensive time for you to wash or dry your clothes is between4pm and 7pm, so try to avoid using your machines between these hours.
Energy prices are at their lowest between10pm and 5am -perfect for night owls and early risers, but make sure you follow fire safety guidance andneverput a washing in and head to bed for the night.
If you need to dry your clothes during the day, the timing of your tumble drying cycles can also help save you money. Switching loads while the dryer is still warm from its previous cycle can conserve the remaining heat inside the dryer for your next load of clothes. This can help shorten drying time, as the machine won’t need to work as hard to dry your clothes.
Washing your clothes at cooler temperatures, and for less time, can greatly increase your machine’s energy efficiency - a 30 degree cycle can cut your washing machine’s energy use in half, in comparison to a 40-60 degree cycle.
It’s more cost-effective to save your hot washes for any bedding, towels and sportswear, as these items are most likely to host a multitude of bacteria. For even further savings, use the eco setting on your washing machine, if it has one.
When it comes to drying your laundry, it’s also more efficient if you run a cooler cycle - even if this means it will take longer to dry, your overall energy consumption will be much lower and you will also be less likely to over-dry your clothes - if your clothes come out warm to touch, they’ve been in for too long.
It’s much more efficient to do a large load of laundry rather than lots of smaller ones, so make sure you fill your machine with a suitable load.
An overfilled washing machine may not wash your laundry thoroughly enough, and an overpacked dryer can take too long to dry your clothing.
A good way to ensure that your machine will run as efficiently as possible is to check if you can still touch the top of the basin after filling either machine with your laundry. If you can’t fit your hand in and amongst your clothing, the machine is overpacked.
Also, make sure to untangle your laundry before putting it in the washing machine or dryer, as smaller items could become stuck or wrapped up in larger items, (such as duvet covers or pillow cases) which can prevent them from getting properly washed or dried.
To keep your washing machine in top condition, it’s best to clean it every three-months. Pour two cups of white vinegar into your machine’s detergent drawer, and run your machine on its hottest cycle. After the first run, add half a cup of baking soda directly into the basin and run a hot cycle again.
Alternatively, running a hot cycle with a limescale removing product is just as effective. This can help to get rid of any build-up that could affect the performance of your machine, to keep it working efficiently for as long as possible.
For your dryer, remember to regularly clean its lint filter for maximum efficiency, ideally after each cycle. A lot of lint and hair can accumulate from just one load, which can hinder your machine from properly drying big and dense items.
If you would like to start washing your clothes at cooler temperatures, Deyan says it’s best to buy bio capsules or bio laundry detergent, as they contain enzymes that can be activated at lower temperatures than non-bio products. These detergents will be better at breaking down your clothing’s dirt and stains during a colder wash - there are even detergents specifically for cold water washes. However, it’s worth noting that non-bio detergents are better for sensitive skin, as they contain less harsh enzymes.
Adding wool or rubber dryer balls to your dryer during a cycle, will help to separate your clothes and increase their exposure to airflow, which can overall reduce drying time and the length at which your dryer needs to run for, saving you energy. Wool balls can even soak up some of the moisture in your machine and cut down drying time even more.
Your tumble dryer uses the most energy out of all standard household cleaning appliances and soaring energy costs means drying your clothes on a drying rack in front of a radiator isn't the best option either.
However, we're still in the grips of winter so drying clothes outside isn't really an option either - and it is by far the best for cost-effectiveness and giving clothes that unique 'line-dried' smell.
If the heating is on and you have clothes to dry, pop them in front of a free radiator, preferably with doors closed to create a small heat vacuum.
To keep up to date with the energy crisis join our Money Saving Scotland Facebook group here, follow Record Money on Twitter here, or subscribe to our twice weekly newsletter here.