When budgets are squeezed, energy prices can really cause a pinch on your finances. Even if you’re on the cheapest tariff available, you can still reduce your gas and electricity bills by saving energy.
While switching energy may be the easiest way to save money on your energy costs, there are many other ways to keep costs down that you can do in your home, which will save both money and hopefully the environment.
Can I save money by reducing energy consumption?
If you follow all of the tips in this energy saving guide, and excluded the initial outlay, you could slash your utility bills considerably.
You could save even more money if you switch energy providers. Depending who your supplier is, you could save as much as £250* by switching to a cheaper deal – and it requires very little effort on your side. Make sure you compare energy prices to find the cheapest tariff for your energy usage and read our guide to switching suppliers.
How much energy does the average household use?
The average home (four occupants sharing) now uses 13 electronic appliances (TVs, laptops, etc.), compared with just four in 1990, according to the Energy Consumption in the UK (ECUK) 2017 report.
Despite owning more appliances, we still use roughly the same amount of energy as we did two decades ago. Even though our gadgets are much more efficient, there’s still a lot you can do to reduce energy consumption.
How to save electricity and gas
The tips below give you some tools and tactics that will help you save electricity and gas at home, alongside estimated figures from the Energy Saving Trust that illustrate the potential savings.
1. Turn off standby appliances
You can save electricity immediately by turning gadgets off at the plug. Games consoles, TVs and set-top boxes are the worst offenders – leaving these on standby can add some serious heat to energy bills.
- Turn appliances off at the plug to save an average of £30 a year. These annual savings can reach between £50 and £80 for households with more gadgets.
- Buy plug sockets that can be turned on and off via your phone, which cost around £20. You could also buy cheaper timer plugs to schedule turning appliances off.
2. Turn down your thermostat
Almost half the money spent on energy bills is absorbed by heating and hot water costs. Turning down your thermostat will help get this under control.
- Turning your heating down by just one degree could save up to £80 a year.
3. Install a smart thermostat
Using a smart thermostat can save you even more energy because it’ll stop you warming rooms you don't use. Smart thermostats learn how long it takes to heat a home and then turn the heating on at exactly the right time to bring it up to temperature. They can also be controlled by your phone, so you no longer have to come back to a cold home.
- Smart thermometers can cost a few hundred pounds, but the leading models could save customers as much as a third on their heating bills.
- If you installed room thermostats, programmers and thermostatic radiator valves, you could save around £75 a year.
4. Buy efficient appliances
You're not going to save money by chucking out a perfectly good appliance and replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. But when you are ready to replace appliances, then the Energy Saving Trust think it's really worth investing in one with a high energy-efficiency rating.
- An electric oven with the new A+ efficiency rating will use around 40% less energy than a B-rated oven.
- A modern, efficient dishwasher will typically cost around £8 less a year to run compared to an older model.
- An A+++ fridge freezer will save around £190 in energy bills over its 10-year lifetime compared to an A+ model.
5. Install a new boiler
You can also save energy by upgrading an old boiler to a new A-rated condensing boiler that comes with a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator controls.
- Based on fuel prices in April 2017, a detached house upgrading from a G-rated boiler could save up to £320 a year.
6. Wash at a lower temperature
With the right detergent you can wash your clothing at a lower temperature and save electricity, although you'll occasionally want to run a hotter wash to keep the machine clean.
- Washing at 30 degrees rather than 40 degrees can be a third cheaper, meaning savings of up to £52 a year.
7. Be smarter about water
Wasting warm water also adds to your energy bills because you pay twice – once for the water, and once to heat it unnecessarily.
- You can save around £25 a year by washing up in a bowl rather than using a running tap.
- You can get hold of some water-saving freebies from your water provider.
- Buying a more efficient shower head can save you as much as £75 a year on your bills.
- If you fit a shower timer in your bathroom, you could save up to £7 per person by cutting just one minute off every shower.
8. Invest in double glazing
Double glazing will not only insulate your home from the cold and help you to reduce your heating bills, it’ll help keep out noise too.
- If your home is entirely single glazed, you could save as much as £160 a year by installing A-rated double glazing. However, smaller properties will see reduced savings.
9. Draught-proof your property
Most homes, especially older ones, lose heat through draughts. They can also stop a room feeling snug when it gets really cold, which makes it more tempting to turn up the thermostat. A quick and easy way to save energy is to use draught excluders for doors. You can also buy a simple draught-proofing kit from most DIY stores that you can easily fit yourself.
- Block cracks in floors and skirting boards, line your letterbox and block an unused chimney to reduce your heating bills by up to £25 a year.
- If you don't have double glazing, you can buy plastic lining for your windows to save energy and keep more heat in.
10. Insulate the roof
You could save even more energy if you insulate your roof and stop heat escaping from your house. It’s worth considering employing someone to do this if you want to use your roof space, because this makes the process of insulating the roof more complicated.
- While insulating your loft can cost several hundreds of pounds, it can also shave around £200 off your energy bills each year.
Consider a Smart Meter
If you’re conscious about how much energy you’re using, you should consider installing a Smart Meter to accurately track your consumption. Learn more about Smart Meters, and how they work, with our guide.
Be aware of expensive bills
If you’ve made strives to save energy but you are struggling to pay your bill, you should contact your supplier and see if there’s any help on offer. You should be able to negotiate a payment plan if your energy bills are becoming too much for your budget.
One viable option is to have a prepayment meter installed. That way, you can pay off your debt gradually, while paying for your current usage and avoiding sliding into further debt. But it must be noted that prepayment meters are often on a more expensive tariff.
Another way to save money would be to switch to a fixed tariff, as you might be able to save as much as £250 a year.
*Based on average saving for customers that applied to switch via MoneySuperMarket, March 2018.