Energy saving tips to reduce your bills

Plug socket

Energy prices have been going up for a while. In fact, electricity prices in the UK rose by 67% and gas prices rose by 129% year-on-year in the 12 months leading up to Jan 2023. 

As a result of these increasing costs, 48% of adults who pay the energy bills in their household have said they’re finding it difficult to afford them.

If you’re one of the growing numbers of people who are struggling, we’ve got some ideas on how to save energy in the home, in turn helping you to save money on energy bills.

Ways to make your heating more energy efficient

There are some simple things you can do when it comes to your heating system and boiler to ensure you’re not paying more than you need to for your gas and electricity bills.

Check your bills

It might seem obvious, but checking you’re paying the right amount for your energy is a great first step in reducing your bills. If you pay by direct debit, it’s always worth checking how much you’re paying and whether that puts you in credit or debit. If you’re in credit, try calculating your usage online and compare it against your direct debit. 

You can then use this as evidence when contacting your energy firm to amend your direct debit if you’re paying too much. You might even be able to get a refund on some of your credit if it’s really high.

Reduce your thermostat by 1°C

This is a very small tweak, but it could save you a lot of money. A study by University College London looking at homes with gas central heating found that for each 1°C decrease in thermostat temperature between 22°C and 18°C, average houses saved around £130 on energy bills (based on the October 2022 price cap for a typically sized house).

It’s advised by various agencies, including the Met Office, that if you’re a healthy adult, your home should be heated to 18°C in winter, while you may need it slightly warmer if there are older people, young children or unwell people in your house. 

So, if you usually heat your home to 19°C, try turning it down a notch, then wait a few hours to see whether you notice a difference. If you’re still feeling the cold, adjust the thermostat up by one degree at a time until you feel comfortable.

By reducing the temperature of your home gradually, you might not even notice the difference, but it could have an impact on your heating bill.

Review your boiler’s flow temperature

If you have a combi boiler, you may be able to save money by reducing the pre-set flow temperature. Combi boilers are designed to heat the water that’s sent to radiators at 60°C or less. This is known as the flow temperature. However, the majority of combi boilers in the UK are pre-set with a flow temperature of 70-80°C. 

Your combi boiler operates in condensing mode when it has a flow temperature of 60°C, which means that it runs more efficiently. If it’s set any higher than that, it’s not running as efficiently as it could be, meaning you could be spending more money than you need to.

Changing the flow temperature on your boiler won’t affect how hot your water is, and it won’t reduce the temperature on your radiators - it might just mean they take a little longer to heat up. According to the Money Saving Boiler Challenge, making this small switch could save the average household £112 a year. 

Insulate your loft

If you own your home, ensuring your attic is properly insulated is another way to make significant energy bill savings.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, a quarter of the heat in an uninsulated home is lost through the roof, and they suggest that properly installed loft insulation will pay for itself multiple times over the course of its 40-year lifespan.

Roof insulation of 270mm in a typical detached house is likely to cost you £890 and could save you £570 per year in energy bills. What’s more, it could also save 1000kg of carbon emissions every year - so installing roof insulation is good for your bank balance and the planet. 

Insulation can be expensive, and in times like these, it might not be top of your household spending list. However, it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible for one of the government’s ’heat your home’ grants to get extra support with insulation costs.

Only heat the room you’re using

There’s no need to have the radiators turned to full blast in every room if the whole family is gathered in the living room for the evening. 

The government suggests that, when you’re not using a particular room but want to have the heating on, you should turn your radiator valves to between 2.5 and 3. This will keep the room at roughly 18°C, and you can turn up the radiator in the room you are using if you’re feeling the chill. 

It’s estimated that this change could save you up to £70 and is thought to be more cost-efficient than turning the radiators off completely. After turning on from cold, your boiler would have to work harder to increase the temperature than if the radiators are simply kept at a lower setting.

Have you thought about how big items of furniture can affect your heating? If a bed or a sofa is right next to a radiator, try moving it a couple of inches away. This may help improve air circulation and help get the room warmer, faster.

Electricity saving tips for your appliances

When it comes to methods for saving electricity, there are some surprisingly simple tweaks you can make around the house that will have an impact on your energy bills.

Turn your appliances off standby

How often do you leave your TV on standby without turning it off at the wall? Although it might not seem like much, the Energy Saving Trust estimates you can save roughly £65 per year by turning your appliances off instead of leaving them on standby mode.

Use your washing machine less

The Energy Saving Trust recommends making two small adjustments to how you use your washing machine. First, it suggests washing your clothes at 30°C. Second, it recommends that you put one less load of washing in every week for a year. By doing these two things, you could save roughly £34 on your energy bill every year.

It’s also a good idea to use your tumble dryer less frequently, as this appliance can be expensive to run. If you can, air drying your washing on a clothes line or horse is preferable. But if you do need to use the tumble dryer, do so less frequently and spin your clothes in your washing machine before putting them in the dryer to minimise the amount of time they’ll take to dry.

Take shorter showers

You probably already know that baths use more water than showers, but showers do still use a great deal of water. A report by the Energy Saving Trust, At Home With Water, found that showers are the largest user of water in the home. Across the country, we use around 840 billion litres of water in showers every year and spend roughly £2.3 billion on heating water for showers.

That’s why it’s recommended that you stick to 4-minute showers, rather than lingering in a hot shower for 10 or 15 minutes. It’s thought that swapping one bath a week for a 4-minute shower could save £20 a year - and if you take frequent baths, swapping them all for short showers could save you even more.

The average four-person household with a power shower could save £70 on energy bills each year and a further £25 on water bills by taking just one minute off the length of their showers. Of course, as well as saving money, you’ll also be saving water.

If you can’t face giving up your long showers, there are also gadgets you can get to reduce the costs, like water-saving shower heads. These are designed to use less water and should save you around 2% per year on your energy bills.

Boil less water in the kettle

Many of us are guilty of filling the kettle to the top, even if we’re only making one cup of tea. If you only boil as much water as you need each time, you could save £13 per year.

Run your dishwasher less often

If you currently use your dishwasher every day, you may want to consider using it less frequently. Ensuring it’s full before you run it will reduce the amount of water used, and it could save you money on your energy bill too. If you swap one dishwasher run per week for hand washing instead, you could save £17 per year.

More tips for saving energy at home

As well as ensuring your heating system is as energy efficient as possible and reducing the use of appliances where you can, there are a few other things you can do to save money on your electricity bills.

Turn off lights

One very simple thing you can do to reduce your electric bill is to simply turn off the lights when you leave a room. The Energy Saving Trust suggests this could save you £25 per year.

You may also want to consider swapping out your lightbulbs for energy-saving bulbs. As lighting accounts for 11% of energy consumption in the average UK household, it could pay off to make the switch from incandescent or halogen bulbs to LEDs. Indeed, you could save as much as £15 per year if you change from a 100-watt incandescent bulb to a LED.

Draught-proof your home

If you have any gaps under your windows and doors, you could be letting cold air in - and warm air out. By plugging these gaps, you could save around £60 a year. If you have a chimney, then draught-proofing could save you a further £90 per year.

Struggling to pay for bills

There are resources out there if you’re still struggling to pay bills. In the first instance, you can contact your supplier and they may be able to help organise a payment plan. You may also be referred to third party debt advisers such as StepChange and Citizens Advice.

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