How to save on energy bills at home
With energy prices remaining at historic highs and no way to switch suppliers to save money, it’s more important than ever to find ways to be energy-efficient. Read on for quick and easy ways to help keep your energy bills down.
As costs of living continue to soar and the energy crisis shows no sign of abating, you’ll likely be worrying about how to deal with expensive bills.
While it’s not possible to switch to a better deal right now, you can take some small steps of your own to help bring down energy costs.
From adjusting your habits to draught-proofing your home, there are many easy and effective ways to be more energy-efficient.
And although these small steps may not seem like much at first, they can amount to some substantial savings on your bills.
Save money on electricity costs
These days, it’s likely you’re using an increasing number of electronics around the house, particularly if you work from home.
It’s also likely that many of them will still be turned on or kept on standby 24 hours a day, even when not in use. While most modern electronics don’t consume too much power when in standby mode, keeping loads of devices plugged in can certainly add up on your bills.
Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs
Replace old, inefficient lightbulbs with modern LED bulbs, as these will help you save on your energy bills. They use almost 90% less energy than traditional bulbs, and last longer too.
Turn off lights and devices when they’re not in use
Get into the habit of turning lights off when you leave a room. Also remember to switch off electronics when you’re not using them, rather than leave them on standby. Unplug devices and turn off plug sockets when not in use.
Rather than keeping your appliances plugged in, unplug them and turn off the plug socket at the wall.
Phone chargers are a big culprit – instead of leaving your charging cable at the plug, remove it and turn off the plug socket. Additionally, there’s no need to keep your device plugged in once it’s fully charged.
Buy energy-efficient appliances
If you’re in the market for a new home appliance, it’s well worth getting one with a high energy-efficiency rating.
Energy efficiency is rated in seven bands ranging from A-G, with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least. Some appliances may use an older scale, from A+++ to G.
To give an example, an A+++ fridge freezer will save around £320 in energy bills over its lifetime compared to an A+ model.
Switch off unused appliances
Large kitchen appliances are some of the most energy-hungry devices in your home. While you can’t turn off your fridge or freezer, it’s a good habit to switch off your dishwasher, microwave, washing machine and electric oven at the wall.
By switching these devices off, rather than leaving them on standby, it is estimated you could save around £30 a year.
Get a smart meter
While this won’t actively save you money, it’ll help you get a much better idea of how much energy you’re using and where your energy costs are coming from. With this information, you’ll be able to work out how to best cut your energy usage.
Watch your water usage
Water usage goes hand-in-hand with energy usage, as hot water is needed for showers and washing up. And while you might only need heating during the colder months, you’ll use hot water all year around.
Additionally, dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers are some of the most energy-intensive home appliances. By changing how you use these devices, you can make some huge savings on your utility bills.
Overall, it pays to be both water and energy conscious.
Reduce water use in the bathroom
Look into replacing your current showerhead with a ‘low-flow’ one, as these significantly reduce the amount of water you use when you shower. Try taking a shorter shower, or replace baths with showers, too.
You might also want to think about changing your toilet cistern to a ‘low-flush’ version. If you have an older toilet, see if you can fit a ‘dual flush.’
And if you have a dripping tap, get it fixed – leaky taps can drip around 90 litres of water every week.
Get water-saving gadgets
There are plenty of affordable, water-saving gadgets that are quick and simple to install in your home. What’s more, water companies often offer these for free, depending on where you live and what’s available.
You could get shower heads, tap inserts, garden hose nozzles and toilet cistern bags that all help to regulate water usage.
Change your laundry habits
Wash clothes at 30 degrees or lower, rather than 40 degrees. And like dishwashers, it’s much more cost-effective to run fewer cycles, on fuller loads.
Try to cut down on using the tumble dryer. Instead, dry clothes outside during the sunnier months, or hang them on an airer in a warm, sunny room or near a window. As well as saving money on energy, it’ll help your clothes last longer, too.
Use ‘eco’ mode
Washing machines and dishwashers often come with ‘eco’ mode, which typically means operating at a lower speed and heat.
If you’re not dealing with extremely messy dishes or tough stains on your clothes, it’s a good way to save some energy.
Be energy efficient in the kitchen
Dishwashers often use less water than washing dishes by hand – but only if they’re run at full capacity. It’s best to use your dishwasher when it’s full. By waiting until it’s fully loaded and only running it once a week, you could save around £14 every year.
If you’re washing dishes by hand, use a bowl in the sink rather than keep your tap running.
When it comes to cooking, some small habits can help you save energy. For example, always put lids on pots and pans when boiling water, and avoid opening your oven door too often when checking food.
And when you boil your kettle, only boil the amount of water you’ll need. By simply filling the kettle correctly, you could save £7 off your bills.
Save money on heating costs
Heating and hot water take up almost half the money spent on energy bills.
Cutting your heating costs doesn’t mean having to go cold, however. There are plenty of measures you can take to keep your home warm, while keeping costs down.
Turn down your thermostat by one degree
Turning your thermostat down by just 1°C can save you up to £80 per year – and you likely won’t even feel the difference. A good rule of thumb is that anywhere between 18°C-22°C is ideal.
Use a special bleed key to bleed radiators regularly, which releases air that’s trapped inside.
This will keep them working effectively and more efficiently, meaning a warmer home and cheaper bills – a win-win situation.
Put rugs on floors
Carpets mean your floors are better insulated – and that your house will stay warmer. If you have floorboards, thick rugs will also do the job.
Don’t heat empty rooms
If bedrooms aren’t in use during the day, don’t heat them. Make use of radiator controls.
If you’re mainly using one room at a time – for example, because you work from home or live alone – you could consider using a portable electric heater to heat up the room, rather than heating your whole house.
However, as electricity is more expensive than gas, weigh up whether this will work better for you.
Move furniture away from radiators
Check that armchairs and sofas aren’t obstructing radiators. By leaving radiators clear, you can help more warmth get into a room.
Radiator reflector panels are a cheap way of conserving energy, as they reflect 95% of wasted heat back into the room.
Close curtains at dusk
Drawing your curtains before the sun goes down will help to keep heat in. And make sure curtains are tucked behind radiators to avoid wasting heat.
If you have blinds or thin curtains, you could consider getting thermal or heavy curtains to keep your room warmer.
Make use of draught excluders
Place draught excluders at the bottom of doors and around windows. You can buy these relatively cheaply, or make your own with old bits of fabric – old towels will also work.
Get draught-proof brushes to cover your letterbox.
Insulate your pipes and water tank
Invest in some DIY insulating foam to lag your pipes. Foam can be bought for just a few pounds per metre and is easy to cut to size.
You can also wrap an insulating jacket around your water tank, which helps reduce heat loss.
Consider long-term energy-saving measures
As well as things you can do immediately to help save money, you could make long-term energy-efficient changes to your home.
While some of these steps will involve more effort to install, plus a larger initial cost, over time it should pay off in terms of energy savings.
Invest in a new boiler
If your boiler is more than 12 years old, it could be time to think about getting a modern energy-efficient replacement. For example, you could save several hundred pounds a year by switching from an older G-rated gas boiler to a new A-rated condensing boiler with a thermostat.
Add insulation to your home
Investing in loft insulation and cavity wall insulation is a good and quick way to keep your home warm and save on heating bills. And it’s not too difficult to install loft insulation by yourself – you can buy rolls of mineral wool from a DIY shop.
Insulate water pipes and tank
Invest in some DIY insulating foam to lag your pipes. Foam can be bought for just a few pounds per metre and is easy to cut to size. You can also wrap an insulating jacket around your water tank, which helps reduce heat loss.
Replace windows with double-glazing
Replace windows with double-glazing to trap heat in your home. Better still, go for high-performance triple glazing where possible. This will help insulate your home, conserve heat, and make your living space quieter.
Check your eligibility for grants and financial support
Many households qualify for some help with their energy bills without realising it. Due to the current energy crisis, it’s more important than ever to see what support is available.
For example, there's the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG). Replacing the Energy Price Cap, this scheme reduces the unit cost of electricity and gas so that the average UK household would pay around £2,500 on their yearly energy bill, further reduced to £2,100 due to the government's £400 subsidy.
The government has confirmed that the EPG has been extended, so average household energy bills will continue to be capped at £2,500 until June 2023. However, from the start of April 2023, the £400 bill subsidy will be scrapped.
Plus, there are schemes and grants available, particularly if you’re old, on a low income, or receive certain benefits:
Winter Fuel Payment – if you were born on or before 26 September 1956, you could get between £250-£600 to help pay your heating bills
Warm Home Discount – a one-off £150 discount on your electricity bill, if you receive Pension Credit or are on a low income
Cold Weather Payment – if you’re getting certain benefits, you can get a £25 payment for each seven-day period of extremely cold weather between 1 November and 31 March
Boiler Upgrade Scheme – a new scheme running from 2022 to 2025, homeowners can get funding to install energy-efficient low carbon heating systems
Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme – depending on your eligibility, you could get help from your energy supplier to get free or discounted home improvements, such as cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, or boiler replacements
Even if you don’t seem to qualify for anything, it’s still worth checking with your energy supplier or local council to see what help you can get.
For example, if you’re struggling to keep up with payments to your energy supplier, they can work with you to arrange a payment plan, or offer a grant to help you pay off debts.