Scottish Power is increasing gas prices by a huge 19% and electricity prices by 10% later this summer, raising the annual cost of energy for a typical dual fuel customer by £175.
Other energy providers are expected to follow suit over the next few weeks, so you should consider locking into a fixed tariff as soon as possible. Read our article '
Hurry! Fix your energy now!' to find out more. As well as fixing your energy tariff, you can also reduce the size of your bills by being as energy efficient as possible around your home. Here are some of the best ways to reduce the amount of energy you use and cut costs at the same time... . Use energy efficient lightbulbs
According to the Energy Saving Trust, using energy efficient lightbulbs could save you up to £45 in energy costs over the lifetime of the bulb, or up to £70 over its lifetime if you're replacing a high wattage incandescent bulb, or one used for more than a few hours a day.
You should also make sure you are scrupulous about turning lights off when you leave the house. If you are leaving your property to go on holiday and don't want to leave your home in darkness for a week or more, pick up a couple of light timers from your local DIY store. They only cost a few pounds, but mean you can set a lamp or two to go on at various times during the day to give the impression someone is home, rather than leaving them on 24 hours a day.
Don't leave appliances on standby when you are not around either. The typical home wastes £40 a year on average by switching appliances onto standby mode rather than off completely.
Upgrade your boiler
If your boiler hasn't been upgraded for several years the chances are you could be adding more than £200 a year to your energy bills. Check what rating your current boiler has. They are rated on a scale of A to G, with G being the least energy efficient. If yours is rated lower down the scale then consider in investing in a new one.
This may be expensive, but the savings you will make through lower heating bills going forward should enable you to recoup the cost in just a few years. The Energy Saving Trust says that by replacing an old G-rated boiler with a new high efficiency condensing boiler and improving your heating controls, you could save as much as £225 a year.
There may be grants and offers to help you install an energy efficient heating system. Contact your local Energy Saving Trust advice centre on
0800 512 012 for more information.
Turn your thermostat down
Every one degree you can turn your thermostat down by could save you up to about £50 a year in energy costs - so turn it down by just a couple of degrees could slash as much as £100 off your energy bills. You should also make sure your hot water and heating isn't left on longer than you need it.
Draught-proof and insulate your home
Even simple measures such as drawing your curtains and putting down draught excluders in winter can stop a significant amount of heat from escaping.
If your home isn't properly insulated, you could be losing a large proportion of heat through your walls. Cavity wall insulation could save you as much as £110 a year on your energy bills. It will usually cost you around £250 to insulate your cavity walls, which means you usually recoup what you've spent in just a couple of years.
If you don't think you can afford the upfront cost, then from the end of next year you will be able to take out a loan through the Government's new Green Deal scheme. Energy companies will offer the loans, which you then repay with the savings on your fuel bill. The loan is attached to the property and not the owner, so if you move house, the new owner would take on the repayments. For more information on the scheme, visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change website at
http://www.decc.gov.uk/. Consider solar panels
Installing solar panels can enable you to generate much of the electricity you need each year. The Energy Saving Trust says that an average system costs around £12,000 to install, but once they are in can produce around 50% of a household's yearly electricity needs. If you produce more energy than you use, you can sell it onto energy companies through a feed-in tariff which could potentially generate savings and income of around £1,170 a year.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.
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