The energy price cap is increasing by 54 per cent next month, meaning eye-watering energy bill hikes of almost £700 for millions of average users, according to Ofgem. A further increase is expected in October, leaving many households facing a real financial struggle.
While surging wholesale gas prices are outside the control of ordinary consumers, there are steps we can all take to minimise our energy use and keep our energy bills as low as possible.
One of the simplest ways to save money on energy bills is by turning down the thermostat. Lowering the dial by just one degree could reduce bills by around £80-85 per year. Adjusting central heating timers to switch off at night and during the day if the house is empty will also minimise fuel consumption.
For rooms such as bedrooms that stand empty throughout the day, people should consider turning the radiator down to the lowest setting without turning it off completely. Fitting reflective foil behind radiators on external walls will also help reduce the rate of heat loss in these rooms.
Which? also suggests taking a look at appliances that aren’t always in use and turning them off at the power if they’re on standby. For a typical home, this could save £55 a year.
Lowering the temperature of washing machines is an eco-friendly way to save money. Which? found that even a 20°C wash can do the trick in some cases, particularly when using liquid detergent rather than powder. For drying clothes, aim to dry clothes on a rack instead of in a tumble dryer – for those who do opt to use a dryer, clean its filter first to improve energy efficiency.
Up to a third of heat disappears through the roof, so it makes sense to add insulation if you can. Which? has found that installing loft insulation, if you do not have it already, could save you up to £215 per year in energy bills depending on your home. If installed correctly, loft insulation should last for around 40 years and pay for itself many times over. It may be possible to install yourself, but if that is not possible, some energy suppliers offer help with the costs.
Another easy way to avoid wasting both energy and money is draught-proofing around the home. In some cases, this is as simple as buying a draught-excluding cushion and putting it in front of your door, but to maximise savings tackle draughty windows, doors, chimneys, floorboards, skirting boards and loft hatches – this can be done using draught excluder strips or expanding foam fillers. While there would be some upfront costs, Which? found that draught-proofing could save consumers £25 a year.
When changing lightbulbs, swapping old-style bulbs with energy-saving LED bulbs saves around £7 per year in running costs, which may seem like a small saving, but as they are longer lasting a single bulb could eventually cut around £180 from your energy bills, compared to an old-style halogen bulb.
To make even bigger savings, Which? previously found that choosing energy-efficient household appliances could save consumers over £300 a year, when their old white goods need replacing. While some of the most efficient appliances may be more expensive up front, Which?’s research has found they are cheaper over the average product’s lifetime due to their lower running costs.
Some households may also be eligible for schemes in grants that can help reduce the energy bills burden. The Warm Home Discount is worth £140 a year and is available mainly to pensioners and those who get certain benefits, while the Winter Fuel Payment is worth £100-£300 per winter, for those born before 26 September 1955. From April, the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme will close, but be replaced with a new boiler upgrade scheme offering up to £5,000 if you replace your current gas or oil heating with a low-carbon alternative.
Says Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said:
“Huge energy bill hikes are a cause of real concern for millions of households across the country, especially when many are already feeling the pressures of the cost of living crisis.
“Which? has found that everyone can make small changes to reduce their energy consumption – and most importantly save money. Several small steps taken together can add up to significant savings. Lowering the temperature on the thermostat will help, as can effective draught-proofing, switching off unused appliances, as well as using energy-efficient lightbulbs and appliances.”