The household bills have rocketed for just about everyone in recent months. Quite rightly highlighted in the media – and recognised by the government – some of the most critical expenditure is likely to be on your domestic energy.
You’re probably anxious to tighten your belt as far as all household bills are concerned so here are some tips and suggestions for saving money on your energy costs.
Save money by switching your supplier (or energy tariff)
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you are paying a competitive rate for the energy you consume – and, in the recent past, that has meant that many customers could save money simply by switching suppliers.
Currently, however, the picture is less clear and the calculations involved in making the necessary price comparisons are more complicated. As a story in The Times newspaper on the 27th of August 2023 pointed out, energy prices have been unpredictable – they could be going up, going down, or remaining more or less stable.
Various sites – including, for example, Citizens Advice – publish detailed instructions for switching your energy supplier. In any event, the critical calculation will be whether any alternative offers a more competitive price for the energy you consume.
If you are looking for greater certainty in a market where prices and price caps are fluctuating, you might want to consider the advantages of a fixed-rate tariff. Although this will guarantee the price you will be paying, of course, you could be losing out if prices in the market subsequently fall. You will also be more restricted in leaving any fixed-rate deal if you later decide to switch suppliers once again.
Save more than £300 a year by upgrading your heating controls
BEAMA – the UK trade association for manufacturers and providers of energy infrastructure technology and systems – has conducted research on the savings likely to be achieved in different housing types simply by upgrading the basic heating controls. Those controls include thermostatic radiator valves, room thermostats, and smart-controlled programmers.
Basing the findings on energy prices up to the end of September 2023, BEAMA found that savings from a “full upgrade” of heating controls could save owners of a detached house more than £500 annually and those in a flat or apartment about £154 a year – with the average estimated savings for all types of housing £303.89.
Every little helps. In recognition of the way that even fairly small changes and adjustments can achieve worthwhile savings, the Consumers’ Association’s Which? magazine recently suggested the following:
- cleaning routines – simple things like descaling the kettle, cleaning the cooling coils on the back of the fridge, cleaning the lint from the filter on the tumble dryer, and defrosting the freezer all help the appliances to work more efficiently – saving on energy;
- although you’ll want to avoid putting just a single garment into the tumble dryer, dry different clothes separately according to the fabrics from which they’re made – different fabrics take different times to dry;
- even better, of course, don’t use the dryer at all but hang your washing outside to dry in the fresh air;
- wait for food to cool before storing it in the freezer;
- do you really need that 40° setting on the washing machine whereas 30° could be perfectly acceptable for your standard wash – regularly saving yourself the cost of heating that extra 10°;
- regularly bleed the radiators of your central heating system to keep them operating at optimum efficiency;
- move furniture from in front of your radiators and let the heat warm the room instead;
- help to keep that heat in by always closing the curtains at night;
- remembering to turn off the lights whenever you leave the room empty will not save a great deal immediately – but over the course of a year those small savings will mount up;
- turn off gadgets and appliances at the mains instead of leaving them on standby – you could save yourself an average of £6 a year;
- if you have the oven on, remember that you’ll be losing heat every time you open the door – so, keep it closed as long as you can;
- cooking is responsible for around 14% of your energy consumption – according to British Gas – so, rather than the cooker, consider more energy-efficient microwaves, air fryers, or slow cookers
- where your appliances have an “eco” setting, remember to use that whenever possible; and
- load the dishwasher correctly and run the cycle only when the machine is full.
More easy pickings
Unsurprisingly, the Energy Saving Trust also offers a list of energy and money-saving tips and suggestions that are easy and cheap to implement:
- draught-proofing gaps around windows, doors, and floorboards could save you up to £105 a year – according to the Energy Saving Trust’s calculations based on energy prices at the end of October 2023;
- swap your bath for a shower at least once a week and the savings could amount to £14 a year;
- then when you stand under the shower keep it to just 4 minutes and you could save a further £75 a year;
- simply insulating your hot water cylinder could save a further £50 a year, says the Energy Saving Trust; and
- savings of £31 a year can be made in the kitchen by making sure you are not overfilling the kettle each time you boil water and by fitting an aerator on the kitchen tap to reduce the volume of water that comes out of it (without otherwise restricting its efficiency).
As you might expect, the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CES) points householders in the direction of using natural, renewable, sources of energy – and, in September 2023, it focused its discussion on the currently hot topic of heat pumps as alternatives to conventional central heating boilers.
The single biggest such source of natural energy comes from the sun, of course, and you can harness its power by hanging out your washing to dry on a sunny day, rather than turning on the tumble drier, investing in solar panels as an alternative source of energy for your property, and by enjoying the health-giving rays of sunshine on your bicycle rather than sitting in your car to go to the shops.
Landlords – consider an energy audit
If you are a landlord – especially one responsible for managing the communal energy needs of a block of flats – you might want to consider the benefits of a comprehensive energy audit. Through this, you might satisfy yourself that the energy you consume is used in the most efficient ways possible and that any changes are made to secure more economic energy consumption.
Once again, the Centre for Sustainable Energy claims to provide particular support for landlords concerning energy-efficiency measures.
We hope this discussion and its various tips and suggestions have given you some ideas of how you can cut energy costs around your home or let property.