Words by Felicity Hannah
Unless you’ve been living under an (unheated) rock then you will have heard that energy bills are going to climb even higher.
As energy prices soared around the world, most UK customers have been protected by the energy price cap but that will rise in April by almost £700 for a typical household.
Not only that, but Ofgem says that the cap might be adjusted more often than twice a year, meaning there’s no certainty for billpayers either.
So, this is very bad news for people already in fuel poverty and struggling to heat their homes.
And it’s also going to mean that lots of people who have never had to worry about their energy bills before suddenly find cutting back becomes a real priority.
You can’t save money by switching to a cheaper deal at the moment, so what can you do to keep those costs under control? Here are some ideas.
Talk to your energy provider
If you start to struggle or fall behind then don’t be tempted to ignore it. Talk to your energy provider as soon as possible.
They will be able to tell you if there’s any help you can access or to advise you on how to manage your bills. You certainly won’t be the only one struggling.
And if you’re older or have a health condition or you’re vulnerable for any reason, then don’t risk sitting in the cold. Speak to your provider about what support you might be entitled to.
Claim your Work From Home tax relief
There are rumours this might be scrapped soon but you can still claim it. If you have worked from home even just one day in 2020 and 2021 then you can claim tax relief.
It’s designed to reflect that you’ve been using your home for work, so heating it more and using your own electricity. The tax relief is worth just over £62 a year for a basic rate taxpayer but up to £140 for taxpayers in higher brackets.
You can claim for the 2021/22 year AND for the previous tax year too, meaning payments of up to £240. That would be a big chunk of the bill hike. There’s a simple government form to claim but do it fast or you risk missing out.
Be more energy aware
When bills hit £2,000 that really focus the mind, so if you haven’t had to worry too much about your energy bills in the past then this is a good time to learn to be more energy conscious.
And that will save you money now and in the longer term.
Small changes may not do a huge amount on their own, but cutting back on wasted energy really adds up.
Things like switching appliances off standby, which the Energy Saving Trust says could typically save around £55 a year. Turning off the lights whenever you leave a room can add up to around £20 a year saved.
And using a clothes horse or hanging your washing up outside can save a hefty £55 a year. It all adds up.
If you have a smart meter then you can start to see these changes happen in real time, which is really motivating.
Read more: 8 smart ways to reduce energy bills at home
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Think about efficiency
When bills are high, the last thing you want to do is replace your boiler or any of your appliances. But when things do break down, replacing them with the most energy efficient model can save cash.
For example, the most efficient dishwashers on the market cost around £15 a year less to run. That might not sound like a huge amount but it does all add up.
And choosing an A+++ rated tumble dryer over an A-rated one could save you around £455 over its 13-year lifetime, that’s according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Insulate your home
There are some really cheap and really effective ways to make your home cosier and cut down on your heating bills. They need a bit of upfront spending but there are some low cost easy wins.
For example, draught proofing your windows and doors with tape. Investing in draught excluders, especially if you have a door leading into a garage. Drawing the curtains in the evenings (but making sure they aren’t covering the radiators).
Steps like that make your home more pleasant and can mean you are able to turn your thermostat down or spend less time actively heating your home.
Make a budget
Okay, this one won’t bring down your energy bills but it will make staying on top of them easier.
Prices are rising, National Insurance goes up in April and interest rates are climbing. To stay in control of your cash with all that going on, you need to know what’s coming in and what’s going out.
Sit down with your bank statement and a pen, and work out what your bills are. Whatever is left is the amount you have to spend over a month.
If you divvy that up into weekly spending amounts then you won’t risk finding there’s too much month left at the end of the money.