Ten ways to reduce your energy bills
1. Shop around
Six million households switched energy provider in 2015, according to the regulator Ofgem. This is good news, but what about the rest of the population?
Switching can really save you money – £200 a year, Ofgem says. And finding the best deal has never been easier. So there are no excuses.
2. Get government support
Pensioners, people on low incomes and those occupying properties which are hard to heat can reduce the cost of their energy bills by utilising government support. The Energy Company Obligation scheme, which runs alongside its Green Deal initiative, strives to kit out the homes of the country’s most vulnerable people with efficient boilers and insulation. If you think you may be eligible for help, contact the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 for advice.
You could also get £140 off your energy bills through the government’s Warm Home Discount scheme.
3. Seek advice
Energysavingtrust.org.uk offers people free independent advice on how to save money on energy bills. Expert advisers are contactable through a helpline from Monday to Saturday. They will explain the financial benefits of making small changes, such as fitting energy-efficient glazing, and big ones, including installing solar panels.
The organisation also produces a free bespoke Home Energy Check report (online and via post) which informs households how they can save up to £280 by making energy-saving improvements to their home.
4. Check windows and walls
Around a third of heat generated by a central heating system is lost through the roof and walls of an uninsulated property. This can be avoided by padding out the loft and walls using insulating fibre, beads or foam.
Loft insulation acts as a blanket which traps heat that rises from the bottom of the property. Cavity wall insulation, where the gap between the two walls is filled, acts in the same way. If your home has solid walls, heat loss can be reduced by insulating them on the inside or the outside.
As part of the government’s Energy Company Obligation (see above) grants are available to cover the cost of having loft insulation professionally installed.
Those that do not qualify for a grant can pre-register for Green Deal Finance, a financing mechanism that lets people pay for energy-efficiency improvements through savings on their energy bills.
According to energysavingtrust.org.uk, insulating a loft could save households up to £175 per year, while filling out a cavity wall could cut costs by up to £135.
5. Insulate floors
Inadequately insulated timber flooring also wastes money. Heat can be preserved by lining the floorboards on the ground floor with thermal insulation or sheep wool. This will cost about £100 in materials which can be fitted by the householder. Doing this will save around £40 a year on heating bills.
Laying down rugs and carpets on the floor, meanwhile, will help warm your feet, which may mean you do not have to use the central heating as much.
6. Deal with draughts
A fifth of heat in a standard home is lost through poor ventilation and draughts around doors, windows and wooden floors. This can be fixed by using foams and sealants, available at most DIY stores, to fill in those costly cracks. Products should meet the BS 7386 standard. Implementing these changes can make savings of around £20 a year on heating bills.
7. Double up
Fitting double glazing can reduce heat-loss through windows by 50% and cut heating bills by between £80 and £100 a year. Households should opt for windows with the Energy Saving Recommended logo.
8. Service your boiler
Regularly servicing your boiler will ensure it is working efficiently and protect you against an unforeseen pricey emergency repair job.
9. Drop heat in unused rooms
Drop the heat setting on radiators in spare rooms to their lowest level to reduce expenditure. Also, fitting reflective foil behind radiators on external walls will help to reduce the rate of heat loss in unused rooms.
10. Take simple steps
Simpler ways to cut your heating bills this winter include closing your curtains in the evening to stop heat escaping through the windows, and keeping radiators clear to enable heat to spread.