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12 ways to save on energy bills
Save hundreds of on your energy bills with our expert tips. We reveal ways to save electricity, plus make your home more energy efficient.
From choosing the best energy tariff to cutting the amount of gas and electricity you use, our advice will help you save money and make your home more comfortable. Some of our top tips take no longer than a few seconds – so you can get started on saving money on your energy bill today. Keep reading to find out how to save electricity and gas and cut thousands from your energy bills.
1. Switch energy supplier
If you haven’t switched your energy supplier or tariff recently, there’s a good chance you could save money. That’s because most fixed energy deals last for three years or less. If you don’t take action when they expire, you’ll automatically be moved on to your company’s standard, default or temporary tariff. This is unlikely to be its cheapest deal. The research material we read consistently reveals you could save at least a few hundreds per year by switching from the priciest Big Six standard tariff on the market to the cheapest available deal. In the UK around 58% of you are on a standard or default tariff, according to energy regulator Ofgem, meaning there are big savings you could make on your energy bill. Find out how much you could save by comparing energy prices.
Already switched energy supplier? Try these:
- Check you’re on its cheapest tariff
- Opt for paperless billing and manage your account online (some companies charge extra for paper bills)
- Pay by direct debit. This is usually cheaper than paying when you receive a bill
- Choose a dual-fuel deal if you want the same supplier for gas and electricity – this is often cheaper
2. Use your your thermostat effectively
In the UK by reducing room temperatures by just 1ºC can cut heating bills by up to £75 a year in a typical home, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So put on a jumper before you turn up the heating. If you don’t already have a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves, installing them – and using them well – could save you double.
Heating controls should let you:
- Set your heating and hot water to turn on and off to suit you
- Only heat parts of your home that need it
- Set different temperatures for areas of your home
Together they will help you keep your home at a temperature that’s comfortable, without wasting heat. For more advice, see our five tips for using your home heating controls effectively.
Use Smart thermostats
These let you operate your heating remotely via the internet. Some also have sophisticated features, such as learning your routine or adjusting settings depending on the weather forecast. Whether a smart thermostat could save you money will depend on your lifestyle, how efficiently you control your heating already and whether you’d prefer to use it to traditional heating controls. Find out whether smart thermostats are worth it.
3. Replace light bulbs
Energy-saving light bulbs can help you cut your energy bills easily. An LED light bulb costs around £1.71 to run per year. Over its lifetime, it could cut up to £180 from your energy bills, compared with an old-style bulb.
Remember, energy-saving light bulbs last longer than traditional ones: Light bulb costs compared Lifetime Annual cost Traditional light bulb 1,000 hours (less than two years) £8.42 CFL 10,000 hours (10 years) £2.04 LED 25,000 hours (25 years) £1.71 LEDs are the most energy-efficient light bulbs and use almost 90% less energy than traditional incandescents. Best Buy LEDs cost from around £2.49 for one and some can pay for themselves through energy savings in a few months. Already use energy-saving bulbs? Remember to switch off lights when you leave the room, and use the best bulb for the size of room or the job it will do. See five top tips for choosing the right light bulb.
4. Cut draughts
Stopping heat from escaping through unwanted gaps could help you save up to £20 a year, although you could save far more with professional draught-proofing. Take a look at the following areas:
- Windows: Use draught-proofing strips around the frame. Brush strips work better for sash windows.
- Doors: Use draught-proofing strips for gaps around the edges, and brush or hinged-flap draught excluders on the bottom of doors.
- Chimney and fireplace: If you don’t use your fireplace, use an inflatable pillow to block the chimney, or fit a cap over the chimney pot.
- Floorboards and skirting Floorboards: need to move, so use a flexible silicone-based filler to fill the gaps.
- Loft hatches: You can prevent hot air escaping by using draught-proofing foam strips. Already repaired large draughty areas? Consider smaller holes that let in air, such as keyholes and letterboxes.
5. Choose energy-efficient appliances
If you’re replacing an appliance, you can cut your electricity bills by choosing the most energy-efficient model. For example, running costs for washing machines vary between £12 and £121 per year. The most visual indication of a product’s energy efficiency is its EU energy-efficiency rating. Which? tests frequently energy consumption in a way that reflects how you actually use different appliances, so they can more accurately tell you which ones use less energy. For example, they test washing machines on the 40°C cottons programme most commonly used by Which? members (while the EU Energy Label tests are 60% based on the 60°C cottons programme). In our lab tests, we reveal the annual running costs for every large appliance, from TVs to dishwashers. You can use the results of the company`tests to find out how much appliances cost to run and which ones will be the cheapest. Choosing the most energy-efficient models can result in annual savings of around: Which? research shows swapping power-guzzling models of these kitchen appliances for energy-saving ones could save you up to £321 a year.
6. Get a new boiler
More than half of what you spend on energy in a year goes on heating. So replacing an old and inefficient boiler with a modern energy-efficient one makes a big difference to your bill. If you upgrade an old G-rated gas boiler (with programmer and room thermostat) with a new A-rated condensing model, including a programmer, you could trim up to £200 a year from the gas bill of a typical semi-detached home. If you don’t currently have heating controls, installing them at the same time will help you save even more money. A condensing boiler is a good choice if you’re looking for efficiency. They capture waste heat released from the flue and use it to heat water returning from your central heating system. But a new boiler is expensive, costing between £3,000 and £5,000, when you include installation. So if saving money is your priority, it’s probably not worth replacing your boiler until it’s beyond economic repair. For detailed information on the savings you could make by replacing different types of boilers, read the five things you need to know before you buy a new boiler. Already replaced your boiler? Make sure you’re using it efficiently. Ensure radiators are working properly and use the boiler programmer so the heating only comes on when you need it.
7. If you don’t heat your home with a gas boiler choose a renewable-energy heating system
It’s important your property is suitable for the technology you choose. For example, even if you want to install solar panels to heat your hot water, you may not be able to, as not all properties have a suitable south-facing roof. So make sure you do your homework.
Renewable-energy heating systems include:
- wood burning stoves
- solar water heating systems
- heat pumps
- biomass boilers
8. Generating your own electricity
Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate electricity, while solar thermal panels heat water. You can now get cashback on solar PV panels almost in all the countries around the world thanks to the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and various renewable incentives. Although the amount you get has decreased significantly over the years due to the constant increase of utility costs is still well worth doing the investment. FIT cashback applies to other electricity-generating technologies too, such as wind and hydropower, but not to technologies generating heat, such as solar thermal panels. For more information on generating your own electricity, see our guides to installing solar panels and wind turbines at home.
9. Home insulation
Insulating both your loft and cavity walls can save you up to £275 per year. Laying loft insulation to a thickness of 270mm in a typical non-insulated three-bedroom semi could trim £130 a year from energy bills, as less heat will be lost through the roof. Insulating cavity walls can save up to £145 a year in a semi-detached house. Solid-wall insulation, although more expensive to fit, could save you £245 in the same type of house. Read our full loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation guides for all you need to know. Already installed loft insulation? Even if you already have some loft insulation, you could save an extra £10 a year by topping it up from 120mm to the recommended 270mm. You can also reduce heat loss through your windows by replacing single-glazing with double-glazing.
10. Quick energy
If you’re pushed for time or money, have done everything else on this list or simply want to get started cutting your energy bill straightaway, try these tips: Understand your energy bill. It’s the first step in knowing how much gas and electricity you’re using and where you can cut back. A smart meter will tell you how much energy you use in real-time, or you can buy an energy monitor. Don’t leave your gadgets on standby. This could save you up to £30 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Fit a water-efficient showerhead. These keep your shower feeling powerful while cutting down on your hot water use. Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full, and use energy-efficient programmes. Dry your washing outside, rather than using your tumble dryer. For more tips, check our advice on how to use less electricity.
11. See if you’re eligible for free cash
Money off your electricity bill, money towards installing solar panels or insulation and grants for buying a new boiler are just some of the schemes currently on offer to help you save money on energy, for less. Find out what you could be eligible for in our home energy grant guide.
12. Keep your energy bill under control
Paying your energy bill through direct debit means you spread your energy costs over the year and avoid big shock winter bills. Providing your energy supplier with regular meter readings will keep your bill as accurate as possible. This helps avoid building up a big credit or debit balance. If you think you’ve been paying too much and are in credit with your energy supplier, take a meter reading. You can ask for a credit refund at any time, even if it doesn’t fit with your energy supplier’s automatic refund policy. Your right to do this is legislated in Condition 27 of the Gas and Electricity Supply Licence Conditions. This says that any credit balance must be refunded if asked for by the customer. Do remember that if it’s summer, you should be building up credit for winter. But if you’re owed money, don’t hold back. Contact your energy supplier and ask for a refund. Not happy with your energy supplier? Contact us to recommend you a better one.