Energy saving tips
Energy bills are a big cost for UK families. The average household spends well over £1,000 a year on heating and powering their home and it's a bill that can really start to bite when budgets are squeezed.
Some homes could save as much as £568 a year* simply by switching to a cheaper deal, so it's important to keep an eye on your bills and compare prices by running a comparison quote.
But, while switching is the quickest and easiest way to save hundreds of pounds off your power and heating costs, there are many other ways to make your home easier on your purse and on the planet.
Here are our top energy saving tips, along with a list of potential upgrades that could save you some serious cash.
10 tips on how to save energy1) Turn off standby appliances
Leaving electrical appliances on standby when they aren't in use can add some serious heat to energy bills.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that most homes could save around £30 a year just by turning appliances off at the plug.2) Be smarter about water
If you're on a water meter then using less will save you money anyway, but wasting warm water also adds to your energy bills because you've paid to heat it.
You can save around £30 a year by simply washing up in a bowl rather than using a running tap, while only boiling the water you need can save as much as £7 a year.
You can also get hold of some water-saving freebies from your provider. Visit Save Water Save Money to find out what's available to you.
3) Turn down your thermostat
Turning your thermostat down by just one degree could save between £85 and £90 a year on heating costs.4) Install a smart thermostat
It's not just about turning down the heating, using smarter technology can save even more money and stop you wasting energy by warming rooms you don't use. For example, the Energy Saving Trust recommends installing room thermostats, programmers and thermostatic radiator valves, which can save householders between £80 and £165 a year.
Smart thermostats are a great way to use energy more efficiently. They 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.
The gadgets can cost a few hundred pounds but the leading models can save customers as much as a third on their heating bills. Also, they mean you can switch the heating on using your phone, so no more coming into a cold house in the winter.
Almost half the money spent on energy bills results from heating and hot water, so it's worth getting the cost under control.5) 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. However, as you come to replace appliances it's really worth investing in one with a high energy-efficiency rating.
The information should be clearly available when you compare different models and it can really pay dividends. For example, an electric oven with the new A+ efficiency rating will use around 40% less energy than a B-rated oven, while a modern efficient dishwasher will typically cost around £8 less a year to run compared to an older model. Meanwhile, an A+++ fridge freezer will save around £190 in energy bills over its lifetime compared to an A+ model.
You could also invest in a more efficient shower head and save as much as £75 a year on your bills. You could also fit a shower timer in your bathroom - it's been shown that cutting simply a minute in a shower could save up to £30 per person in the house.6) Draught proof your property
Most homes, especially most older homes, lose heat through draughts and they can also stop a room feeling snug when it gets really cold, which makes it more tempting to turn up the thermostat.
The good news is that draughts can be an easy efficiency win. Draught excluders for doors can make an instant difference, but you can also buy simple draught-proofing kit from most DIY stores and easily fit it yourself. For example, you can block cracks in floors and skirting boards, line your letterbox and block an unused chimney.
If you don't have double glazing then you can even buy plastic lining for your windows that helps keep more heat in.7) Wash at a lower temperature
With the right detergent you can wash your clothing at a lower temperature and still get it clean. Washing at 30 degrees rather than 40 degrees can be a third cheaper, although you'll occasionally want to run a hotter wash to keep the machine clean.
The average home spends up to £130 a year on laundry, not including detergents, but washing at 30 degrees where possible uses around 40% less energy. That could mean savings of up to £52 a year.8) Install a new boiler
Upgrading an old boiler to a new A-rated condensing boiler that comes with a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator controls can save some serous money.
Based on fuel prices in March 2016, a detached house upgrading from a G-rated boiler could save £350 a year, so it's worth the initial outlay.9) Invest in double glazing
If your home is entirely single glazed then the Energy Saving Trust thinks you could save as much as £160 a year by installing A-rated double glazing, although the gains are lower for smaller properties.10) Insulate the roof
While insulating your loft can cost as much as £300, it can also save around £180 off your energy bills so this is an investment that pays off fast. The recommended thickness is 270mm and you can buy the materials from most DIY stores.
Having said that, getting an expert to help can be a good idea, particularly if you want to use your roof space for storage - squashing the insulation makes it much less effective and you may need rigid insulation boards instead of the roll-out material.
*10% of customers could save up to £568. MoneySuperMarket Data average usage figures, 2016