When budgets are squeezed, energy prices can really cause a pinch on your finance – but there are ways you can further reduce your gas and electricity bills.
How to save money on energy bills
One of the best ways to save money on your energy bill is to switch supplier. Depending who your current supplier is, you could save as much as £250 by switching to a cheaper deal – and it requires very little effort on your side. Comparing energy prices can help you find the cheapest tariff for your energy usage – learn more by reading our guide to switching suppliers.
While switching energy may be one of the easiest ways to save money on energy costs, there are also changes you can make around your home to help keep costs down. Following all the tips in this energy saving guide, excluding the initial outlay, could help you slash your utility bills considerably.
How much energy does the average household use?
The average home, containing four occupants, now uses 13 electronic appliances (including TVs and laptops). That’s a huge leap compared with 1990, when just four appliances were typically used, according to the Energy Consumption in the UK (ECUK) 2017 report.
But despite owning more appliances, we still use roughly the same amount of energy as we did two decades ago, meaning our gadgets have become more energy efficient over time. But, there’s still a lot you can do to reduce energy consumption – and save money.
How to save electricity
There are a few changes you can make around the home that could help cut down your average electricity usage. This can include using more efficient gadgets and appliances, from energy-saver lightbulbs to A+++ rated dishwashers, as well as replacing old appliances, and avoiding wasted power by switching unused devices off at the plug.
Percentage of households that have a high usage of electricity, according to the information input by customers when switching energy with MoneySuperMarket between April and June 2018. High usage is defined as more than 3,100 kWh during one year.
How to save gas
There are also things you can do to save on gas bills, such as upgrading your gas appliances to more efficient models or installing a smart thermostat to help you track usage and have more control over your gas-powered central heating.
Percentage of households that have a high usage of gas, according to the information input by customers when switching energy with MoneySuperMarket between April and June 2018. High usage is defined as more than 12,000 kWh during one year.
How to save energy
The energy saving tips below give you some tools and tactics that will help you save gas and electricity at home. We have included estimated figures from the Energy Saving Trust to illustrate the potential energy savings that you could make.
1. Turn off standby appliances
- Turn appliances off at the plug to save an average of £30 a year. Households with more gadgets could see annual savings reach between £50 and £80.
- Use plug sockets that can be turned on and off via your phone, to make sure you switch unused appliances off. You could use cheaper timer plugs to schedule turning appliances off.
2. Install a smart thermostat
- Smart thermostats can make your heating more efficient by only warming the rooms you are using.
- They learn how long it takes to heat your home, so they can have it at the right temperature at exactly the right time.
- They can also be controlled by your phone, which means you won’t 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 £150 a year.
3. Turn down your thermostat
- Almost half the money spent on energy bills is absorbed by heating and hot water costs.
- Turning your heating down by just one degree could save up to £75 a year, if you have all the controls listed in the previous point.
4. Buy efficient appliances
- Throwing out a perfectly good appliance won’t save you much money, but when it is time to swap, going for one with a high energy-efficiency rating can be worth the investment.
- 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 save energy by upgrading your old boiler to a new A-rated condensing boiler 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 clothes at a lower temperature
- Washing at 30 degrees rather than 40 degrees can be a third cheaper, meaning savings of up to £52 a year – though you should make sure you have the right detergent for this.
- You might still want to run a hotter wash occasionally to help keep the machine clean.
7. Be smarter about water
- Wasting warm water charges you twice – once for the water, and once for heating it – unnecessarily adding to your bill.
- 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 gas bills.
- If you fit a shower timer in your bathroom, you could save up to £7 per person each year by cutting just one minute off every shower.
8. Invest in double glazing
- Double glazing insulates your home from the cold and helps reduce your heating bill, as well as keeping the noise out too.
- If your detached 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
- A cold draught can cause your home to lose heat, especially older homes, which makes it more tempting to turn the heating up. Draught excluders or draught-proofing kits are a good way to prevent this.
- Seal 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
- Insulating your roof can stop heat escaping from your home – however the process can be complicated to it may be best to employ an expert to do this if you want to use your roof space.
- While insulating your loft can cost several hundreds of pounds, it can also shave around £200 off your energy bills each year.
11. Monitor you usage
- Keeping a watchful eye on your consumption levels can help you decide if and when you have to change the way you use energy.
- Installing a Smart Meter lets you track your consumption with accurate and real time information. Learn more about how they work with our guide to Smart Meters.
Compare Energy Quotes
Comparing energy quotes can often be the best way to save on electricity and gas. The process is simple – you just need to put in a few details, like your postcode, current supplier, and payment and contact details.
By using Money Supermarket, you can compare estimated yearly and monthly costs as well as your annual savings if you were to switch, and if there’s a fee for leaving early, helping you find the deal that’s best for you. You’ll be given the option to pick from a big name supplier, or you can browse the full range to see all the options available.
You can also check whether you’ll be paying at a fixed or variable rate. A fixed rate means your payments will stay the same throughout, while a variable rate means they’ll change depending on the rate set by the provider. While a fixed rate can give you stability and protection against sudden price hikes, it also means you’ll miss out on the benefits if the provider decides to lower their prices.
If you do decide to switch supplier, it should be handled by the providers so you won’t have to do much – just keep a recent bill handy so you can compare prices. There won’t be any loss of supply or any new installations, and the process could be done within six weeks – helping you save on average £250 a year.
Need help with your 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 they can help. You may 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. This way you can pay off your debt gradually, while paying for your current usage and avoiding sliding into further debt. You should keep in mind that prepayment meters are often on a more expensive tariff, but it’s still possible to switch energy providers when you’re using one.