Top tips to help you cut energy costs and keep your gas and electricity bills low
Millions of UK households continue to see their finances squeezed as energy prices continue to rise to eye watering rates, with millions expected to pay as much as 54% more for gas and electricity usage this year.
Higher demand for gas and the energy price cap has already seen a number of energy companies go bust and households paying more as cheap fixed rate deals disappear.
The energy crisis will see the average annual costs for someone on a default tariff increase from £1,277 to £1,977. If you use more energy, or live in a large or draughty home, you could see your bill rise even further.
To help you reduce your energy bill, we’ve rounded up our top tips to help you keep your bills as low as possible.
- CAN I CUT ENERGY COSTS BY SWITCHING TO A FIXED RATE TARIFF?
Fixed-rate energy tariffs are usually the best way to lock in a good price for your gas and electricity, but with high wholesale prices so high, any fixed rate deal is currently going to be expensive.
The best advice for now is to stay put until energy prices calm down and deals start to return.
- SAVE MONEY ON ENERGY BILLS USING DIRECT DEBIT
Setting up a direct debit to pay for your energy is a sensible idea as it will immediately cut your bill. Not only will you never forget to pay, but it works out around 7%, or £85 a year, cheaper on average than if you were to pay any other way. Remember to give your supplier regular meter readings so that you are paying the correct amount each month. You can usually do this online, via an app or automatically if you have a smart meter. Accurate meter readings can save on your energy bill by making sure you do not overpay with estimated costs.
- TURN THE HEATING DOWN
Heating and hot water costs make up around half of your energy bill, so this is where the biggest savings can be made in the home. Start by turning your heating down by just one degree – it could save you up to £80 a year on your energy bills.
Visit the Energy Saving Trust for tips on how to reduce your energy usage.
- CUT YOUR SHOWER TIME TO SAVE ON ENERGY
You don’t have to make a big sacrifice here to your shower time, cutting just one minute off your daily ritual could save £75 a year in energy bills and another £105 a year in water bills if you have a meter.
- FIT A WATER-SAVING SHOWER HEAD
Heating and hot water costs make up around half of your energy bill, so this is where the biggest savings can be made in the home. Start by turning your heating down by just one degree – it could save you up to £80 a year on your energy bills. Visit the Energy Saving Trust for tips on how to reduce your energy usage.
- GET A NEW BOILER
Installing a new boiler isn’t cheap but if you can afford the initial outlay then replacing your battered old boiler with an super energy-efficient one could save you up to £300 a year, according to experts. Look for a top-rated A-rated boiler.
See if you can get the Clean Heat Grant – you could receive £7,000 to replace your boiler if you go for an eco alternative. The Clean Heat grant is available from the government next year.
- TURN APPLIANCES OFF
Brits have an average of 10 electrical items plugged in and switched on around our homes at any one time which we aren’t using, according to energy supplier Utilita. Turning your television set off at the mains can save you up to £16 of electricity a year. Doing the same with an X-box or Playstation can double that figure. It all adds up.
- BUY ENERGY EFFICIENT WHITE GOODS TO SAVE ENERGY
We’re not suggesting you throw away well-functioning appliances but when your fridge or washing machine come to the end of their lives, make sure their replacements are as energy efficient as possible. Upgrading a C-rated fridge freezer to a top rate A+++ one could save you £113 a year, according to Energy Local.
- DO YOUR LAUNDRY AT A LOWER THE TEMPERATURE TO USE LESS ENERGY
If you are doing laundry four times a week at 20 degrees rather than 40 degrees you can save you £24, according to Which? Cutting out one cycle per week, perhaps by wearing your clothes more before you wash them, could save you £5 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
- STOP USING THE ENERGY-GUZZLING TUMBLE DRYER
You could save £40 a year if you never use your tumble dryer, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So leave your clothes to dry on an airer or clothes horse if possible.
- GET A SMART THERMOSTAT
Rather than running around the house turning radiators on and off, a smart thermostat could do the job for you. It has the ability to only warm the rooms you are using and knows how long it takes to heat your home. Using an app, you can time it just right so that you never need to return home to a cold house. Uswitch estimates that a smart heating system can save you around £75 a year.
- TURN THE LIGHTS OFF
It’s an old, but golden, rule that will trim your energy costs. Turning off the lights in rooms you are not in can save you £14 a year, according to the Energy Trust.
If it helps, stick a post it by the switch saying ‘Switch me off’ as a constant reminder.
- USE ENERGY SAVING OR LED LIGHT BULBS
Replacing bulbs with energy efficient LEDs can save you £35 a year though the expense of doing this (around £100 for the average household) may seem initially painful. Maybe start small and replace just the bulbs in the room that you’re predominantly using. They use less energy so your bills are cheaper, they last longer so you will need to buy fewer bulbs and they are just as bright.
- INSULATE YOUR HOME
This needs initial investment, but getting wall and loft insulation and installing double or triple glazing on your windows will save you paying for energy that is being lost from your home.
Don’t forget your water pipes too. It takes longer to heat running water in uninsulated pipes. You may be able to get some cheap or free insulation through your energy firm, especially if you’re on low income.
- USE A SMART METER TO KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR ENERGY BILLS
If you work from home, don’t forget the working from home tax relief which will give you something towards energy bills. A basic-rate taxpayer gets £62.40 while a higher rate taxpayer gets £125. It only takes a few minutes to claim via the government website – all you need is your government gateway ID and password which you can create when you apply.
- GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR YOUR ENERGY BILLS
Those who are elderly and/or on low incomes may be eligible for financial support. Pensioners can receive one-off winter fuel payments from the government of up to £300, while the warm home discount, worth up to £140 a year and the cold weather payments of up to £25 a week, are designed to support people who live at risk of fuel poverty.
- GRANTS FROM ENERGY FIRMS
Talk to your provider if you’re struggling with energy bills. If you are in debt to your energy supplier there are grants from charitable trusts to help pay it off. British Gas Energy Trust offers help to anyone – you don’t have to be a customer. Firms such as Scottish Power Hardship Fund, Ovo Debt and energy assistance, E.on Energy Fund and EDF Energy Customer Support Fund offer grants to their customers.