The prices we pay for gas and electricity for our home are constantly changing. Quite often, it feels like the bills we receive every three months get more and more expensive. Fortunately, there are a number of changes you can make – both to your behaviour and your home – to effectively cut down your energy bills by considerable amounts each year. Here are our six top tips to reduce the amount you pay to power your home.
Step One: Knock down your deal.
Before you consider all of the little daily changes you can make to chip away at your energy bill, you should look at what you are already being charged.
Of course, the other steps in this article will all help to lower the amount you need to pay but these tend to revolve around reducing the amount of energy you use. Your first course of action should be to ensure you are paying the lowest possible price per unit of energy you use (regardless of how much you use).
Energy providers are always altering their prices and their tariffs. Whether this is due to raw material price inflation, financial pressures within the firm, or external stressors the company have no power over, there is no place for brand loyalty to your current supplier when it comes to lowering your energy bill.
In 2018 alone, some of the UK’s top gas and electric suppliers have made and plan to make some substantial changes to their energy prices, as you can see below.
That’s why it is always wise to shop around for the best price possible. This is particularly important if you are approaching the end of your contract but it is best practice to continue looking around throughout the year.
|UK Energy Supplier||Old price||New price||Difference in pounds sterling||Difference as a percentage||Changes effective from|
|British Gas||£1,101||£1,161||£60||5.5%||May 2018|
|British Gas||£1,161||£1,205||£44||3.0%||October 2018|
|First Utility||£1,1991||£1,132||£66.96||5.9%||July 2018|
|Scottish Power||£1,210||£1,273||£63||5.5%||June 2018|
|Scottish Power||£1,273||£1,320||£47||3.7%||October 2018|
Even if your current provider has high exit fees, the savings you could make elsewhere could be worth the initial cost. When you call your current provider to make the switch elsewhere, in some cases they may also offer lower prices and better deals to tempt you to stay.
Price comparison website uSwitch claim that there is as much as a £300 a year difference between the best priced and the worst priced tariffs on offer. Make sure you find the lowest price for your energy usage and always look for fixed deals where your bill cannot be changed before the end of the term.
Step Two: Read your meter as often as you can.
One major pitfall to avoid when trying to cut down your energy bill as estimated bills. This is where your chosen supplier essentially guesses how much energy you are likely to use in a year and averages it out over 12 months.
Energy suppliers use their own calculations to come up with your estimated usage. Some factors could include:
- Your past history of energy usage
- The time of year
- The size and type of property you live in
- How many people live in your home
- How well insulated your home is
While many gas and electricity providers claim their equations are ‘clever’ or ‘highly accurate’, it is hard to think of these bills as much more than guess-work. That means you could use more or less energy than you have already paid for. If you overuse, they may ask you to make up the difference.
In most cases, however, these estimated bills result in you paying for much more energy than you actually need. The best way to counteract this is by providing your supplier with accurate and regular meter readings instead.
You should check your meter at least once every three months. You can either call your energy provider on the phone or, in many cases, set up an account and report your meter readings online.
If you find that you are heavily in credit, i.e. not using anywhere near the amount stated in your estimated bill, you can ask for some money back. If your energy provider says no, you can quote ‘condition 27 of the Gas Supply Licence’. This legislation states that credits must be refunded and all direct debits must be fair.
Step Three: Don’t leave the light on.
Once you know you are paying the right amount for what you are using, you should look at getting your usage as low as you possibly can.
One of the worst offenders for racking up your energy bill are lights. The lighting in your home makes up as much as 19% of the average household’s annual electricity bill.
A great way of lowering this cost is by replacing your existing bulbs with energy-saving or LED lightbulbs. While they may cost more to purchase initially, they use 80% less energy than traditional bulbs to power so you can knock off an extra £55 from your electricity bill each year.
These eco-friendly bulbs also last ten times longer than their halogen cousins. Over their lifetime, this equates to savings of around £120 per bulb before needing to be replaced, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Whether you choose to replace or not, there are other small changes you can make to your everyday life that can make a big difference to your energy usage and bill.
Always turn lights off when you leave a room. While some may try to tell you that it takes more electricity to switch lights back on than you would save by switching them off, energy experts agree this is just a myth.
Cutting out other habits like leaving the lights on when you pop out to the shops in the evening or having landing lights on through the night could save you around £10 a year.
Step Four: Waste not, want not.
There are a huge number of other seemingly harmless habits that could be pushing up your energy bill by hundreds of pounds every year.
You should always unplug or turn off at the socket any appliances that have a light on whilst idle. Whether it is a TV, a game console, or even your mobile phone charger, they are all draining electricity unnecessarily when on stand-by.
Other small changes you could make include only using energy-draining products when you absolutely need to. Wait until your dishwasher is completely full before you switch it on, as it still uses a lot less energy for a full load than two half-loads.
Similarly, you should try to use your tumble drier sparingly. Tumble driers are huge consumers of energy so only use them when absolutely necessary. If the weather is nice outside, consider just using your washing line.
Or, in winter, if your heating is already on, a clothes horse may also suffice for smaller loads. Turn down the temperature on your washing machine to 30 degrees or use quick wash settings whenever you can to make doing your laundry as cost-effective as possible.
Aim to make preventing wasting energy your priority. When it comes to water, you don’t only have to think about how much you’re using, but also how much it costs you to heat it.
The more hot water you use, the more water you have to heat and the more your boiler has to work overtime to keep up. Running a bath uses as much as 100 litres of water. By showering instead – which rarely uses more than 35 litres – you could save another £18 per year.
Other water savings can be made in the kitchen. When you put the kettle on, only boil as much water as you actually need. It may be a good idea to measure out how many cups of tea you want to make by filling the kettle from a cup. This alone could save you up to £7 per year.
When boiling vegetables on the hob, try putting less water in the pan, turning the temperature down, and putting a lid on the saucepan. Your food will still steam cook and you won’t need to wait (or pay) for all that water to heat.
Step Five: Insulate your home.
The Centre for Sustainable Energy say that the average home loses more than 10% of its heat through windows and doors. That is 10% of the energy you are paying for quite literally going out the window.
If you’re looking to reduce your energy bill, you should consider replacing old and inefficient windows with more modern double glazing. Heat can escape both through glass and through any cracks and gaps in the sealant, so make sure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible.
On top of this, you should also draw any curtains or blinds at night and use draught-blockers under doors to keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
You could also take advantage of the many free insulation deals on the market. This could be a government-backed grant or funded by your energy supplier. By having cavity wall and loft insulation in your home, you could save hundreds of pounds on your heating bill each year.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, loft insulation alone saves homeowners up to £175 a year, with cavity wall insulation taking off a further £135 from your total bill.
Step Six: Replace your boiler.
While all of these points are incredibly important, the main change you can make to drastically reduce your energy bill is by replacing your outdated boiler.
Boilers burn through between 60% and 79% of your total fuel usage, say the Energy Saving Trust and Which. By taking out a tired and struggling boiler and fitting a top-of-the-rage combi boiler in its place, you could greatly improve the energy efficiency of your home.
A modern combi boiler is an investment that can add a great deal of value to your home. In fact, if you’re thinking of selling your property at some point in the future, a recently refurbished boiler could be a brilliant selling point since potential buyers know they won’t need to replace it themselves.
In terms of lowering energy bills, high energy efficiency rated boilers can have a major impact on your annual energy bill. The age and model of your existing boiler can make a huge difference to how much it costs to power.
See below just how much you could save on energy bills with each type of boiler according to energy performance specialists Sedbuk.
|Type of boiler||Flat||Semi-detached house||Detached house||Energy efficiency|
|Heavyweight old gas boiler||779||1204||1705||55%|
|Lightweight old gas boiler||£659||£1019||£1442||65%|
|Modern non-condensing boiler||£549||£849||£1202||78%|
|Modern condensing boiler||£481||£744||£1053||89%|
By replacing an old G-rated boiler with a modern A-rated model with fully customisable heating controls, you could save around £340 per year.
Combi boilers are one of the single most important home investments you can make to reduce your annual energy bills.
How get the best price on your new boiler
As with all home improvements, the only way to ensure you get the best possible price on your parts and installation is by comparing quotes from reputable, local tradesmen.
While your energy company may offer to fit a combi boiler at request, these prices tend to be grossly inflated compared to those usually charges by independent and national installers.
The lower the price you can get for your new, energy-efficient boiler, the more you will save on your energy bill.