10 ways to cut your energy bills

Energy companies are busy pushing up the cost of gas and electricity just as the cold weather starts to bite, but there are ways to reduce your bills.

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With bills rising and snow hitting Britain, many people will be worrying about their energy bills.

But most homes could cut their gas and electricity costs by hundreds of pounds a year. Here, we offer our top ten tips for reducing the amount you spend on energy this winter....

Tip number one: Switch energy provider now

The easiest way to make the biggest savings is simply to switch energy companies to a better deal. The average household could cut their annual bill by £263 a year by switching.

Several of the major energy companies have announced price hikes recently and so far only EDF Energy has pledged not to increase its standard tariff bills this winter.

With prices edging upwards, you may want to consider a fixed tariff.

Scott Byrom, moneysupermarket.com’s head of utilities, said: “We urged people to fix their energy bills back in the summer to ride out all these price rises, but if you missed out then it’s still not too late.

“You’ll pay slightly more that you would have if you’d locked in then, but OVO Energy’s fixed tariff (at £993 a year for the average household) is cheaper than a standard tariff so you can still save money.

“Fixing now will ensure any future price increases will pass you by, and most importantly won't hit your wallet as hard during these cold, and more costly, winter months.”

Tip number two: Switch to direct debit and paperless billing

In order to qualify for one of the very cheapest gas and electricity tariffs, you’ll need to agree to pay monthly by direct debit.

Some companies will even give you an annual discount if you agree to switch to paperless billing,

Tip number three: Turn down your thermostat

If you can stand to reduce your room temperature by just 1°C, the Energy Saving Trust reckons you’d cut your heating bills by up to 10% and save an average of £50 a year.

You should also set your heating and hot water to work on a timer, so that they come on when you need them and not all the time.

Tip number four: Replace any old-fashioned bulbs

Consider replacing any old fashioned light bulbs with energy saving alternatives. The old style are being phased out, so you will struggle to replace them anyway, but it's worth changing over as soon as possible.

Fitting your entire home with energy saving bulbs could save you up to £25 a year, according to the government.

In fact, as the bulbs last around 10 years on average, every single one could save you £40 over its lifetime.

These bulbs are now just as reliable and effective as the old-style bulbs – they just don’t waste energy.

Tip number five: Insulate your home

More than half the heat pumped into a house with no insulation gets lost through the walls and roof – a complete waste of energy and money.

The government says that most UK homes don’t actually have sufficient insulation, meaning a huge amount of heat is being wasted each year. Insulating your loft is easy to do and will save you up to £225 a year, while cavity wall insulation could save you £110 a year on average.

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Tip number six: Change your habits

Small changes add up, so changing your attitude to energy use in the home will pay dividends in saved energy and lower bills.

Be aware of where you can save energy and then train yourself and your family to cut back.

For example, only boil as much water as you need to, pop a lid on your pans when cooking, don’t put hot food in the fridge, turn off lights when you leave a room – all these are small changes that can add up to substantial savings on your energy costs.

The average home wastes £40 a year on average by switching appliances onto standby mode rather than off. If your gadget is showing a light, it’s probably wasting power, so turn things off properly.

Tip number seven: Wash clothes at lower temperatures.

Cut back on energy bills by washing your clothes at a lower temperature and making sure you only ever put in full loads.

It’s also tempting to use the tumble dryer in the winter, when you can’t hang clothes outside. Do this as little as possible – the tumble dryer is a real energy waster. Instead, try a clothes horse in the warmest room in your house, or hang clothes off radiators.

Tip number eight: Replace your boiler

How old is your boiler? The older it is, the less efficient it will be, meaning it’s wasting energy and your money.

If yours is one of the oldest, least efficient G-rated boilers, you could cut your bills by as much as £225 a year by upgrading to a new A-rated model.

There are even quite a few energy saving grants and discounted models up for grabs. Your energy company might have a deal, or you can search the Energy Saving Trust’s database.

Tip number nine: Close your curtains at night

Drawing your curtains in the evening doesn’t just make the room cosier, it helps trap more heat and makes it warmer too.

If your radiators are under the window, make sure they’re not being blocked by your closed curtains; you want to funnel the air into the room and not out of the window.

Tip number ten: Think about renewable energy

There’s no point investing in solar panels or a wind turbine if you’re wasting energy in the home. You’re better off spending money on insulation first.

However, if you’ve made your home as efficient as it can be and you still want to do more, it might be time to consider installing your own renewable energy generator. If you generate more than you’re using at any time, you can even sell it onto energy companies using a feed-in tariff.

There are loads of options, from solar panels to heat pumps, but not all are suitable for every home. There’s a Home Energy Generation Selector available at the Energy Saving Trust that can help you find the right choice.

Initial investment in home generation can be high and take many years to pay for itself, but it will bring down your energy bills and ensure your home is more environmentally friendly.

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