Product Promotion Network

Seven things you do every day that waste energy

If you’ve ever stopped to turn off the light before you leave a room, you’ll know that energy-efficient habits are quick and easy to adopt. But abandon them and your energy bill will increase slowly but steadily. Leaving appliances on when you’re not using them can add GBP30 to your annual electricity bill.

And if you choose not to replace busted light bulbs with LEDs, you’ll be missing out on hundreds of pounds of savings across your home. Read on to find out how you can save energy and money in moments, and visit our independent energy switching site, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices[1].

Top energy-wasting habits

Our lives are busy, especially in the run-up to Christmas, so it’s easy for energy-saving habits to slip.

But do so at your peril, as the consequences will slowly add to your energy bills. Here we reveal seven common energy and money-wasting shortcuts. Then scroll down for quick tips to help cut your energy bills.

  1. Running your dishwasher, washing machine, or tumble dryer half-full. The fuller the load, the more efficient the cycle.

    Using an eco cycle on your dishwasher can cut energy use by around 16%.

  2. Forgetting to set your heating controls[2]. These allow you to schedule your heating to be off when you don’t need it – for example, at night or when you’re out – so you don’t forget to switch it off.
  3. Not replacing old light bulbs with LEDs[3]. On average, an LED bulb costs around GBP1.71 per year to run, which could cut GBP180 from your energy bills over the bulb’s lifetime compared with an old-style bulb.
  4. Leaving appliances on standby or switched on when you’re not actually using them. This costs households up to GBP30 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
  5. Heating unused rooms. If you can zone your heating with room thermostats, you can easily trim your bills. Set lower temperatures for the parts of your home that you use only rarely or at certain times of the day.
  6. Putting warm food into the fridge or freezer. The appliance will have to work harder, and use more energy, to cool down.

    Avoid leaving the door open too long, and defrost food in your fridge to give it a helping hand at chilling.

  7. Putting off switching energy supplier[4]. If you don’t feel able to invest the time into comparing gas and electricity prices, you risk paying around hundreds more than you need to for energy each year. The amount is the difference between the priciest tariff from a Big Six energy company and the cheapest deal on the market.

Quick energy efficiency tips to cut your bills

  • Check whether you’re eligible for a home energy grant to help you pay your bills. Pensioners and those in receipt of certain benefits can get GBP140 from the government’s Warm Home Discount.[5][6]
  • Stop heat escaping because of draughts[7] under doors, around windows and up the chimney, to save up to GBP50 per year.
  • Turn down your central heating by 1?C to save around GBP80 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

    Set your thermostat to 18?C to begin with and then adjust it each day until you feel comfortable. Don’t let the temperature drop below 16?C for elderly people.

  • Send meter readings to your energy supplier regularly to ensure your bills are accurate. Without meter readings, your supplier will base your bills on estimates, which could be higher than your actual usage.
  • Wash lightly soiled clothes at 30?C.

    Compared with washing at 40?C, this could save you around GBP9 per year. Dirtier garments will need cleaning at higher temperatures, though. Read more about useful washing machine programs[8].

When it comes to replacing your dishwasher, washing machine or other white goods, choose energy-efficient appliances[9].

Our lab tests measure how much every machine costs to run, so you know what an A-rated appliance will really add to your bills.

Have you considered a smart thermostat?

Smart thermostats can switch your heating on or off remotely via the internet. So if your plans or the weather change, you can adapt your heating to match. Prices range from around GBP100 to GBP250, although some energy suppliers offer them as part of fixed-term gas and electricity deals.

Many smart thermostats show you how much heating you’re using. Some can also monitor your usage, learn your routine, or turn on when you’re near home (using GPS data). As with a traditional thermostat, you can program the times when you want the heating to turn on and off – but you do this via your phone or computer, rather than the thermostat itself.

Whether or not a smart thermostat could save you money will depend on factors including the price you pay for the system, how effectively you use your existing heating controls, how comfortable you are using apps, and if you intend to stay in your current property for several years to recoup the cost of installation through your reduced bills.

See our comprehensive guide to smart thermostats[10] to decide whether they’re the best choice for you.

References

  1. ^ compare gas and electricity prices (switch.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ heating controls (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ LEDs (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ switching energy supplier (switch.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ home energy grant (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Warm Home Discount (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ Stop heat escaping because of draughts (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ useful washing machine programs (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ energy-efficient appliances (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ smart thermostats (www.which.co.uk)

Webs

The DIY website builder[1] space has come a long way since Webs debuted all the way back in 2001. That was before the advent of responsive design, e-commerce, and even AI-powered automatic site creation. Since its last major update in 2014, the site builder has remained largely the same.

Nevertheless, it can get the job done, and even offers online store creation, free sites, and a decent blogging tool. But our Editors’ Choices, Duda and Wix, offer more modern designs and more site-building flexibility.

Start Building Your Webs Site

To get started with Webs, all you need to is set up an email address and a password. Next, you choose Business, Group/Org, Personal, or Store from the site category drop-down.

From there, you choose from a wealth of application-specific templates, or themes. There are 41 targeting food and beverage sites alone. If the template has an orange star on it, it’s only available to paid accounts.

Many of the themes look similar, uninspired, and a bit dated. None of those that I tried are responsive, that is, they don’t adjust to different browser widths. Furthermore, after you choose Personal themes, you still see mostly business site categories in your theme selection.

None of the themes use the trendy full-page background image style like Weebly and Squarespace’s templates do. When I hovered the mouse cursor over an individual template, I saw its color scheme choices; some had just two, while others, like Savvy, had six. I wish the template browser let me sort by popularity, since it’s a handy way to gauge what other people are doing.

For my test site, I chose the dark Grunge theme and later changed it to a more cheerful and standard Classy theme–you can change your site theme at any point. Next, you choose whether you want a custom domain (starting at £29.95 a year) or a free site address in the form mysite.webs.com. That’s exorbitant, considering that you can register a domain[2] at Pair Domains for £6.

Of course, the name must not already be taken. That done, you choose a site package: Free, Starter (£5.99 per month), Enhanced (£12.99), and Pro (£22.99). I tested the Pro package so that I could see the full service’s full functionality.

Free Webs websites only can have up to 5 pages; for comparison, Duda[3] doesn’t limit the number of pages on its free sites. Site stats are limited for free accounts, too, and they get 500MB storage. This is a big improvement from when I last reviewed the service, when it was a paltry 40MB.

Weebly’s free accounts get unlimited storage. Custom mobile sites are only for Pro accounts on Webs. The paid account levels remove Webs’ ads and add support, and they also allow password protection for site pages.

When you first start actually customizing and building up your website, Webs shows you an introductory video explaining the process. There’s a support button on every page. Clicking it takes you to the service’s FAQs.

The Site-Building Interface

Webs’ site-building interface differs from that of Weebly other competitors in that it features a Dock along the bottom from which you drag and drop page elements.

Your choice of places to drop elements is limited, though you can create multicolumn sections for more options. I find that other site builder’s sidebar interface make drag-and-drop more controllable. Tabs under the toolbar let you choose among Popular, Structural, Media, Social, Commerce, and Other page elements.

You can switch among the site dashboard, builder, themes, and pages using another ever-present toolbar across the top. There is also an Undo/Redo button–I like that you can undo and redo up to five actions.

Webs offers you a separate dashboard for each site you build, and switching from site to site is a simple matter of choosing from a drop-down menu. Webs’ dashboard includes a helpful checklist that takes you through all the steps needed for a functional end-product site.

While working in the interface, I was slowed down several times by progress animations and pauses, even though I was working with a very fast Internet connection. I didn’t run into this kind of performance and productivity bottlenecks with competitors like Duda, Weebly, and Wix[4] .

Managing and Adding Pages

The Pages dialog lists all the pages on your site, which you can drag to reorder. You can even create nested pages in the site navigation by dropping one page entry onto another.

When adding a new page, you get a choice of layouts, depending on the theme you chose for the site. Layout options include having right or left sidebars with or without a top banner. The options are adequate, but I prefer site builders that give you specific page-type options, such as About, Contact, Our Staff, and so on.

Webs’ Apps eluded me at first, but below the Pages box is a tab that switches you between Pages and Apps. You install and manage the latter from this view. A lot of the site builder’s functionality depends on your installing these page-type apps, which include stores, blogs, photo albums, calendars, and external links.

Web Design With Webs

When you first start to create a website[5], theme customization is limited compared with what’s offered by other site-builders.

You can change background images and colors of links and accents, but adding a constant footer to the site requires a paid account. The same tool that lets you undo also offers page settings, including metatag entry, removing the current page from the site’s nav bar, and applying password protection. You can only use a custom favicon if you get a custom domain–other site builders like Weebly don’t have this restriction.

Each element you drag from the dock onto the page you’re building gets a full-width rectangle. At the top of the rectangle are tools that let you drag it to reposition it, edit its settings, or delete it. Structural elements have the advantage of allowing nesting–if you choose a two-column structure, you can drop another instance of the element into one of the just-formed columns to double it.

Dragging the borders of the new columns allows further tweaking to taste. You can vertically extend some elements, like text boxes, but not image boxes. A plus with Webs is that it lets you upload video as well as still images.

Most site builders only let you use embedded videos uploaded to other video hosting sites. But both uploading and embedding video code requires a paid account. You can add a button that links to a page in your site, an email address, a file download, or an external link.

One thing you can’t add, which most modern site builders do allow, is custom HTML or CSS code. There is an HTML element (for paid accounts only) you can add to a page, but you can’t tinker with the site builder’s own code. Not only can you upload any file type for your viewers to download, you can also upload audio they can play.

Working With Images

Adding an image is just a double-click away, after you’ve dropped any image-containing element onto your page.

A standard dialog lets you upload photos. For single images, you can choose stock photos or enter the URL to an image on the Web. For galleries, you have to use your own uploaded pictures–up to 60 of them.

The free image option takes advantage of Flickr’s Creative Commons content. Just one gallery style is available, but it’s a decent one, with near-full-screen viewing on a black background. It lets you adjust the thumbnail view (rectangle or square), the spacing around thumbs, and whether to display captions.

It also offers a Lightbox option for distraction-free photo viewing on your site. After uploading or choosing online images, you can add a title and caption to each, but image editing is limited to rotating, resizing, and cropping. Competitors like Squarespace incorporate online photo editors[6] such as Aviary to let you do full image editing inside the site builder.

Making Money

Webs offers just two commerce options from the main interface: a PayPal Buy Now button and a PayPal donate button.

For deeper selling capabilities, you can install Webs’ store app, which is conveniently promoted next to the two PayPal buttons. Setting up either is simple. All you have to do is enter your PayPal username and watch the dollars roll in.

PayPal buttons are all well and good, but they don’t let you deal with shipping, inventory, promotions, or a lot of other commerce needs. The store app adds real store pages, inventory tracking, and shopping cart[7]/checkout functionality. Free accounts can list five products for sale, and a Pro account removes that limit.

Webs doesn’t have a store feature for selling digital downloads, as more modern site builders do. You can work around this limitation with PayPal and password protected pages, but it’s much easier with services like Simvoly[8] and uCoz uKit, which have the fuctionality built in. I added the Web Store to my test site, and adding products was a cinch.

The Web Store lets you receive payments either through PayPal or Stripe–the same reputable merchant service used by Squarespace[9]. Premium accounts get coupon capabilities, along with a custom cart header. Another way to gather a few pennies from your site is to place targeted ad links on it: Webs offers no streamlined way to do this, but premium users can add AdSense or other ads via the custom HTML module.

Getting Social

Webs offers button elements for Facebook, Twitter, email, and more, with AddThis[10] popping up to include every possible sharing target if your site visitor taps an orange Plus button.

That lets your users share your site to their social pages, but you can also get them involved with your social accounts using a Facebook Like button, a Twitter feed listing, as well as Facebook comments and Twitter follow button. The Social Links tool let you add a link to any of your social network accounts. For the Facebook Like button (which only works if you have a Facebook Page), you can choose to show thumbnail photos of other likers and a recent post stream.

Going Mobile

There’s no mobile builder view in Webs, nor do its sites use responsive design, but the Mobile tab of the Dashboard lets you see how your site looks on smartphones.

There, you can turn on a mobile version of your site and change to a dark or light theme and customize the site header for mobile. My test site showed a mobile-friendly hamburger menu leading to links to my site pages. Paid accounts can also create a mobile-specific landing page.

Duda does all the mobile customization for free and offers a mobile builder view. You actually do get a bit more control over the mobile version of your site with Webs than with Squarespace, which simply creates a mobile site for you based on your full site theme and offers very little customization.

Blogging

Whether intended for business, organization, or personal online presence, most sites occasionally need to update their audiences on the latest happenings, so having a capable blogging tool in your site builder is a plus. Webs’ blog tool gets the job done respectably, with decent customization.

You can add categories for posts, assign contributors, and allow or disallow comments. If you have the Members app installed, you can even send richly formatted email blasts and allow joining via a Facebook Connect app. I tried inserting images, videos, smilies, and even HTML embed code in my posts with good success.

Webs even lets site visitors comment on and subscribe to your blog updates, and you can save posts as drafts if you’re not ready to schedule and publish them.

Publishing Your Site

There’s no Save choice while you’re editing in Webs: Any edits you make are considered updates to your site. But before publishing, you can hit Preview, which opens a new browser tab showing how your site looks, though with a Webs bar across the top. This lets you try out the nav and view the content as a Web visitor would.

Page loading at this step was slow. When you’re ready for the world to see your site, an explicit Publish button does the job, but if you’re building a free site, you’ll have to first verify your humanity by fitting puzzle pieces together (instead of a CAPTCHA).

Site Traffic and Portability

Free account holders can only see daily and monthly page view numbers for their sites. For even basic things like the number of visitors and traffic sources, you’ll need a paid account.

Unlike Weebly and Squarespace, Webs doesn’t give you access to your site code in case you ever want to move it to a different web hosting service[11]. Webs’ Dashboard offers a useful section on getting your site noticed by search engines and on social networks. There’s even a subsection on getting your business listed on Yelp and other local services.

Metatag tips are also offered, but only to Premium plan holders.

The Way to Get on the Webs?

Webs is a competent site builder, but it’s showing its age compared with newer, spiffier site builders.

Yes, you can create a free site in Webs, but it offers less than you get from other services such as Weebly[12], and Webs constantly pushes you toward a paid account.

For a smoother site-building experience, better-looking templates, and more-generous terms for free accounts, check out PCMag’s easy site-builder Editors’ Choices, Wix and Duda.

Bottom Line: Webs lets you easily build a site with most of the features you’d expect, but it’s not as intuitive as Duda or Wix, nor does it offer their slick templates.

References

  1. ^ website builder (www.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ register a domain (www.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ Duda (preview.pcmag.com)
  4. ^ Wix (uk.pcmag.com)
  5. ^ create a website (www.pcmag.com)
  6. ^ photo editors (www.pcmag.com)
  7. ^ shopping cart (www.pcmag.com)
  8. ^ Simvoly (www.pcmag.com)
  9. ^ Squarespace (www.pcmag.com)
  10. ^ AddThis (www.addthis.com)
  11. ^ web hosting service (www.pcmag.com)
  12. ^ Weebly (www.pcmag.com)