Keeping household bills as low as possible is always a smart move, regardless of the economy, the pandemic, and the state of your own personal finances. We’ve rounded up 15 ways to help you keep a lid on energy costs – for good.
1. Set a reminder to switch
Once your fixed term tariff is up you will likely start paying the ‘standard rate’ tariff unless you switch. This is the most expensive rate for gas and electricity.
Your energy provider is required by regulator, Ofgem to flag up the expiry date with you. And it says suppliers must give ‘sufficient time for customers to act on the notice that their fixed-term contract is about to come to an end’.
But in the event you don’t open a letter or email sent in the run up to the expiry date, cover all bases by setting your own reminder on your phone or adding it to your calendar.
When it comes to the switch itself, use a comparison service to search the market for a better value tariff.
2. Turn down the heat
Turning your thermostat down by one degree would save £60 a year on your heating bills – according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST).
3. Save on electrical appliances
Switch appliances off standby mode to save £35 a year and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
4. Shorter showers
A family of four could save £75 a year on energy and water bills by spending just one minute less in the shower each day.
5. Eliminate draughts
Feel around your windows and doors to check for draughts. Seal any holes or use draught excluders. The EST says draught-proofing windows and doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can save around £20 a year on energy bills.
6. Turn lights off when not in use
Get the whole family into the habit of switching lights and lamps off in rooms they’re not using. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again. It can save around £15 a year on your energy bills.
7. Invest in radiator reflector sheets
Heat is lost out the back of radiators, especially those fixed to external walls. Placing reflective foils – which cost around £22 for a pack of three – between the wall and the radiator can help keep your home toasty but also lift a weight of the wallet. Search online for the best value deal.
8. Service your boiler
Gas Safe Register is advising people to check their boiler is up to scratch, as usage is set to rise by more than half due to lockdowns and home working.
Servicing your boiler now could both reduce energy bills and spare having to pay for emergency repairs following a sudden breakdown.
Waiting until a boiler is worn out before replacing it is a false economy as the boiler’s inefficiency will be costing more in monthly bills too.
A boiler service typically costs £72 while a breakdown costs £200 on average. Installing a new boiler can cost anything between £1,500 and £4,764, figures from consumer group Which? show.
9. Be sparing when you make a cuppa
Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need and save around £7 a year.
10. Get smart
Smart meters are meant to provide more accurate bills and help us all to cut down on our energy use. The devices, which display energy usage in pounds and pence and transmit real-time readings to suppliers are already in around 20 million homes.
Many of the best energy deals come with the requirement that you must have a smart meter installed so you can start saving straight away now and in the future.
11. Wash clothes at a lower temperature
Selecting a 30 degree wash will conserve energy as the machine won’t need to heat the water for as long. The Energy Saving Trust says this will trim bills for your machine use by a third. Also avoid washing half loads unless you have a half load cycle option on your machine.
12. Insulate your loft
Even if you have some insulation in your loft, topping it up to the recommended depth can make a real difference. The average saving on bills is around £46 a year, but if you have no insulation at all then it can be as much as £174 a year.
There is of course an initial outlay of anything from £100 to £500. Yet loft insulation is effective for at least 40 years, plus it pays for itself much faster than that.
13. Switch furniture around
Rearrange the furniture in your rooms to ensure nothing is pushed up against radiators that will block off the heat. In particular move sofas and cupboards or bookshelves away from them to allow the warm air to circulate better.
14. Don’t heat empty rooms
Turn down radiators in rooms at home that are not used regularly such as a guest room or dining room. Don’t turn it off completely though as that can lead to damp problems during winter.
15. Check for grants available
The government has a variety of measures in place to help people with their bills during winter. One is the Government's Green Homes Grant scheme, which promised households in England vouchers worth up to £5,000 to be spent on eco-friendly home improvements such as wall and loft insulation and environmentally friendly heating systems.
There have been teething problems, but it might still be worth a look.
Bills a problem?
If you find yourself worried about paying for your bills, ring up your gas and electric supplier, or suppliers if you have two different companies, and ask for advice.
It’s better to do this before you find yourself short and risk missing a payment. Your supplier will work with you to put in place a new, affordable payment plan.