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Six apps and gadgets that will cut your energy bills

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31/01/2014
To mark the end of Energy Saving Week, we look at the apps and gadgets that could bring your bills down.

British households have seen the price of heating rocket over the past decade.

The average household energy bill will have rocketed by £792 or 168% in 10 years, from £472 a year in 2004 to £1,264 a year by this March, according to figures from comparison site uSwitch.com.

With such worrying statistics, it is little wonder that over 70% of British households are being forced to ration their heating.

And even though there have been reductions in energy bills following the Government’s decision to roll back green levies last year, households are still £53 a year on average worse off following recent price hikes.

So with costs set to rise further over the course of the coming year, we look for the latest smartphone apps and gadgets that could help rein in runaway energy bills…

British Gas Hive Active Heating

Hive Active Heating by British Gas uses state of the art technology to help you control your heating remotely from mobile, tablet or laptop. And those without a combi boiler can use it to control the hot water remotely too.

You need to buy the technology, which consists of the receiver, thermostat and hub, and it is not cheap at £199. But the three main parts communicate with each other, so you can control your heating remotely with the free app and online dashboard and British Gas claims the technology can save you up to £150 a year.

You can use the app to switch your heating on and off or up or down – no matter where you are – in the office, on holiday or in bed. This is particularly good for those with busy lives, especially those who have schedules that can easily change day-to-day.

If you don’t own a smart phone, you can still control Hive Active Heating from the online dashboard or even via text, and you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to buy Hive.

Cost: £199, comes with professional installation.

Snapt app

Many Brits perceive the process of switching any service or supplier, whether energy or otherwise, as something of a chore but this app might help those who are short of time.

You simply snap a photo of your latest energy bill with your phone and the team at comparethemarket.com will use the information on the bill to find you the cheapest deal to switch to. Reviewers have said they have saved as much as £150 from using the service and switching providers.

Snapt’s creators say the app could collectively save the UK over £9.2bn on energy bills.

Cost: Free, but iphone users only.

Alert Me

The AlertMe Energy device uses the web to monitor how much energy your home is eating up.

The energy-monitoring system is compatible with the Google free PowerMeter service.

The technology detects in seconds changes in how much power you are consuming.

The web page will display the info you want how you requested, and can display how much energy you have been using that day plus the cost of the electricity you’ve used. Plus there’s a “history” where you can see archived charts of your energy usage on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis.

It’s not cheap to buy, so would generally be best for larger homes to see the monetary benefit in the short term.

Cost: varies between suppliers

Meter Readings

This handy little app helps households stay on top of utility bills.

You enter your meter readings into the app and it produces a graph to show your energy use and habits and how much they cost.

You can also use it to compare your usage and costs with your neighbours who use different energy suppliers. This means that you can see if you would be better off switching provider or staying put.

You can use the app to switch supplier if you think you’ll be better off elsewhere.

Cost: £1.49 on Apple devices and 99p on Windows phones.

Apps for the ‘Big 6’ energy suppliers…

All of the Big 6 energy suppliers have handy little apps which keep track of how much energy you are using.

The ‘Big 6’ are SSE, British Gas, npower, Scottish Power, E.ON and EDF.

For those of you fed-up with paying estimated bills, these apps let you submit correct metre readings simply by taking a picture using your phone and sending it off using the app.

This can help you keep your energy bills low as you only pay for your actual usage rather than an estimate.

Most of these apps also let you compare your usage to others in your area, as well as view your balance, manage payments and books an engineer should you experience a problem.

Cost: Free

Household Bills Splitter

Living in shared accommodation generally works out cheaper when it comes to energy bills – you only need to heat the house once and more people can feel the benefit. But when it comes to bills, splitting and the paperwork can be a nightmare, especially for the person paying the bill and having to chase up the money from other housemates.

This app lets you add all the different household costs that need to be paid for, such as energy, internet and phone. Once you have entered the amount people owe, the app will calculate the total and let you keep a track of who has paid what.

Cost: £1.49 on Apple devices.

 

More practical tips to reduce your energy bills this winter…

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