How to Cut Your Energy Bills
What You Need to Know
- Energy Bills are one of the biggest single household bills, yet there are a number of surprisingly simple ways to make savings.
- BE sure to compare deals and make sure you are with the best value supplier for you using price comparison websites.
- Don’t pay over the odds on an estimated bill. BE sure to give your supplier regular readings and claim back any extra money you have paid them.
- If you have an old boiler, update it to a new, more energy efficient one.
- Make sure your house is well insulated. Many energy suppliers have free or cheap insulation deals available.
- Check with the Government to ensure you claim any grants or discount energy deals you are entitled to.
- Turn down your thermostat a little, and make sure you switch things off as much as possible. Little changes to your energy usage can make a big difference on your bill. Ie turning down your thermostat by just 1°C can you save you as much as 10% on your heating bills.
- Energy saving bulbs last ten times longer than regular bulbs and could save you £45 over their lifetime.
- Heat lost through windows accounts for 25% of your heating bill, so make sure you have double glazing.
- Fitting loft insulation pays for itself very quickly and could save you up to £200 a year.
Energy Bills are one of the single biggest annual costs any household has to contend with, and with prices having spiralled in recent years, despite the addition of extra competition into the energy markets, there aren’t many people who wouldn’t like to be able to cut a sizable chunk of money off their outlay.
Fortunately, there are still a number of simple steps you can take to save money on your energy bills, and will a little effort, perseverance, and dedication, you can quite possibly save yourself several hundred pounds a year.
Compare Prices and Switch Suppliers
One of the most effective ways of getting your energy bills down is through switching your supplier. As well as the ‘Big 6’ providers, there are now also a number of smaller players in the market, and all of them are keen to get your business.
This means that with some effective shopping around there are plenty of good deals to be found. The easiest way to locate the right deal for you is through a price comparison site, which brings together the best deals from a number of different providers.
These sites will ask for information about your usage, and what type of product you are looking for, and you should be sure to answers these questions honestly and as accurately as possible to make sure the site will generate the best possible deals for you.
Once you have input your details, they will then tell you the most affordable deals currently available for you. It is important to remember to never just one Price Comparison site. All of these sites are different, and all will have different products and prices available. Some suppliers may only list on certain price comparison sites too. Check at least three or four different price comparison sites before choosing the right deal for you. The best place to start is, of course, right here on the UK Net Guide Price Comparison page.
Price Comparison Websites can sometimes reveal a supplier you have never heard of before. If this happens, it is well worth doing some research into them before you start, and also looking into customer feedback to see the standard of service and customer support they offer, before signing up with them.
Once you have settled on the best deal for you, it is well worth going back through the process at least once a year to ensure you are never paying over the odds for your energy unnecessarily.
When you receive your utility bills always check through them carefully. Unless you have seen the meter reader arrive at your house in person, it is quite likely that you are being billed based on an estimated reading.
Many utilities companies use estimated reading, rather than coming to your house to check the meter every month, and being estimates they can often be pretty inaccurate if you are usually careful about your energy usage, or if you have been away on holiday, and so on.
If you have received an estimated bill, you should always check that the estimate is close to your actual usage. Check your meter reading yourself, and see how close it is to the one included on the bill.
If they have overestimated or underestimated, you should contact them immediately with an accurate reading and ask them to correct your bill and refund any money owing to you. If you owe them money for an underestimate, it is better to sort it out earlier before the amount owing gets too large to cope with.
Giving regular meter readings should help your provider to adjust your estimates and ensure that you are not being over billed (or under-billed) again.
Get a new Boiler
Not many people know how much of their energy usage is from their boiler. In fact, your boiler accounts for around 60% of you annual energy bills each years. Therefore investing in a more energy efficient boiler can make a big difference to your energy bills.
Exactly how much money you can save is dependent on a number of factors, but potentially it could amount to several hundred pounds.
Advice from the Energy Saving Trust suggests that the biggest factor is the age and efficiency of your existing boiler. For example, if your boiler is several years old with an efficiency rating of ‘G’ (below 70% in modern terms), a new boiler could save you as much as £570 a year if you live in a detached house, £340 a year in a semi-detached house, or £280 a year in a mid-terraced house.
If you have more efficient ‘D’ rated boiler (78% - 82%) this will equate to £300 in a detached house, £175 a year in a semi, and £145 a year in a mid-terraced house.
Whilst these are obviously only estimates, the serve to illustrate the amount of money that can be saved, and suggest that even with the upfront cost of a new boiler and installation, over its lifetime you stand to save a sizable amount.
One clever trick which can have a surprisingly big impact on energy bills is to improve the insulation in your home.
Up to a quarter of your homes heat will be lost through the roof, so having loft insulation installed can make a big difference. The Energy Saving Trust estimated you could save up to £180 a year on your heating bills.
If you home was built after the 1920’s, you are also likely to have cavity walls. Filling these cavities with insulation is also thought to make significant savings, with the Energy Saving Trust estimating around £140 a year for the average home.
Even if these savings don’t incentivise you, the fact that it is possible to get insulation improvements for free certainly should. Check with your supplier to see what insulation offers they have.
Energy Grants and free Energy Efficiency
It is also easy to overlook the fact that there are a range of grants to help with energy bills available to those on low income, as well as various free or heavily discounted energy efficiency schemes that can help to reduce your bill.
Some of the best offers currently available include:
- Free energy efficient Boilers and Insulation
- Cold Weather Payments – made to old people and those on some particular benefits if the temperature falls below 0°C for more than seven days in a row.
- Warm Home Discount – energy suppliers are required by law to help vulnerable people pay their bills and have to contribute £140 a year under this scheme.
- Winter Fuel Payments – an annual grant of up to £300 available to any older person who was born before 5 January 1953.
- Energy Fund Schemes – in addition, many of the big energy suppliers operate funds to help those who have built up large debts in their energy bills. If you are in that situation, contact your supplier for advice about this.
To find out which of these deals, or any other offers, you might be entitled to, take a look at the Governments Energy Grants Calculator.
Switch things off
Switching off your electrical appliances and gadgets at the plug can also cut your electricity bills by more than you would expect.
Despite what some people believe, there are only a few items, such as wireless routers and satellite TV digiboxes which cannot safely be switched off completely without losing data.
Leaving something on standby means it is still using electricity, with some older appliances consuming up to 80% of what they would if they were turned on.
For convenience turn it off at the power switch, but turning off at the plug saves even more money.
Turn Down Your Thermostat
A really simple way to make a big saving is to turn down your heating thermostat. Turning it down by just one degree will save you as much as 10% on your heating bill and you won’t even notice the difference. If you think you can manage to turn it down more, do so.
Another way is to ensure that your radiators have individual temperature controls on them. Ensure that these are only on in the rooms you are regularly using. There is no point having a radiator on in the spare bedroom if there is nobody sleeping there.
Deal with Draughts
Other easy ways to save on heating include, closing your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and using draught excluders for any doors which might let cold air in and hot air out.
Do a survey of your home to discover where you have drafts, and then take steps to deal with them. If you have gaps in your skirting boards, window frames, or door frames, fill them up with silicone.
Fit a draft excluder in your chimney as well if you can.
- For more detail about these energy saving tips, and for more suggestions, visit the Energy Saving Trust Website.
- Check out our guide to switching your energy provider.
- Our guide to electricity prices has all the information you will need to understand what you are paying for.