Energy Bills

Energy bills are something we all have to pay, and with prices soaring, so how can you reduce your usage to offset the rising fuel costs?

How to save money on your energy bills

By Laura Rettie, Personal Finance Journalist.

Laura Rettie

Our energy bills have soared in the past year, with some households seeing gas and electricity bills become their biggest monthly outgoing.

The ideal solution would be for the cost of wholesale energy to drop, but sadly experts say this is unlikely to happen for some time.

In the meantime, how can you bring down the cost of your energy bills?

How much energy does the average household use?

According to Ofgem, the average household uses 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas per year.

But of course, it’s important to remember that the “average household” may be completely different to yours; you may have more or fewer people living in your home, and you may have different needs for energy.

For example, if you work from home, you’re likely to use more energy than someone who is out all day.

There are a number of factors that can impact your gas and electricity bills including;

  • Where you live - Energy prices can vary from region to region throughout the UK.
  • The size of your house - Bigger houses tend to use more energy, there are more lights, more space to heat and typically more people living in them, which means there is a general need for more electricity.
  • Your energy provider - Different energy providers have different tariffs. Currently the government has capped how much a provider can charge per kWh, which means providers are currently not offering competitive rates.
  • The number of people in your household - More people tends to mean more energy usage, especially if you’re doing separate activities. If you and your partner are watching TV in the living room, your child is playing video games in another room, and your other child is watching a film in their bedroom, you’ll use more energy than someone who lives alone.
  • How much time you and your family spend at home - If your family are only home in the evenings, you’re likely to use less energy than a young family home all day, keeping the house warm, boiling the kettle and cooking lunch for example.
  • How energy efficient your house and boiler are - Newer build houses tend to be better insulated than older properties; they’re also likely to have more efficient electricity usage. Having an older, less efficient boiler can also contribute to higher energy bills.

What uses the most energy in my home?

There are a number of appliances that use a lot of energy in your home, and even when you’re not there, your home will be using energy.

The items that use the most energy will typically depend on how much you use them, but some of the worst offenders include:

  • Heating - Keeping your house warm can cost you the most amount of money. It’s a good job most households only need to turn the heating on a few months of the year.
  • Showering or bathing - If you have an electric shower, it costs money for the boiler to heat up the water for you to get squeaky clean - the longer you stay in the shower, the more money goes quite literally down the drain
  • Washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers - Whilst they only use energy when you’re using them, these appliances tend to use the most amount of electricity in short bursts.
  • Fridges and freezers - These appliances are always on, which means that they contribute significantly to your energy bills, but need to be left on.
  • TVs and computers - When left on standby, these devices can use a lot of energy even though you’re not using them.
  • Lighting - Lighting can use a lot of energy, especially if you haven’t switched to energy-efficient or LED bulbs.
  • Cooking appliances - The oven, hob, kettle, microwave, blender, and air fryer; all these cooking appliances can use a significant amount of energy on a daily basis.

How can I save money on my energy bills?

There are all sorts of things you can try, from replacing an old boiler and appliances to replacing lightbulbs for more efficient ones.

Here are 11 things that will help to reduce your energy bills:

1. Replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones

Research suggests swapping out old appliances for more energy-efficient ones can save you hundreds of pounds a year.

Appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers, fridges, freezers, and dishwashers are some of the biggest energy users in your home.

We're not suggesting you go out and replace all of your appliances tomorrow, but when it's time to replace them, it's a good idea to take a look at the energy efficiency before you make a purchase.

All appliances in the UK will have an energy rating ranging from A-G (or A+++-G for older appliances). A or A+++ are the most energy efficient.

2. Make sure your home is well insulated

A well-insulated home will stay warmer for longer, meaning you won't need to rely on your heating as much, especially if your heating is controlled by a thermostat (set to come on when a room drops below a certain temperature).

Most new builds are well insulated, but if you live in an older property, it's worth investing in insulation in the attic to help keep your home warm without relying so heavily on the heating.

Plugging gaps under doors with a draft excluder can help keep your home feeling warmer, and you can make them yourself with bits of old fabric.

3. Replace those lightbulbs - and don't forget to turn them off!

It’s like the Blackpool illuminations in here! This is something many of us heard growing up, but we’re still guilty of leaving lights on around the house from time to time. But remembering to turn them off when you’re not using them can help you keep your energy bills down.

Changing to LED lightbulbs can also help reduce the cost of lighting your house. LED bulbs are by far the most energy-efficient bulbs on the market.

It might be a good idea to consider moving to smart lighting if your lights are frequently left on by mistake.

The initial set-up costs can be high, but you can programme the system to turn off any lights you’ve accidentally left on when you leave the house or after a certain period of time to prevent the lights being left on after you’ve gone to bed.

4. Get your boiler serviced, and if necessary, replace it

Heating and hot water are one of the biggest components of your energy bills, so making sure your boiler is running efficiently is a crucial step in bringing down your energy bills.

Getting your boiler serviced every year and asking your engineer to make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible can be a great way to make savings. If you have an old boiler, it may be time to replace it, though this can be expensive, so make sure you weigh up the costs vs the savings you’ll make.

5. Put your heating on a timer

If you can, timing your heating to only come on for periods when you’re in your house can save you money. This way, you’re not paying to heat your home when you’re not in it; for example, if you know you’re at work every day between 8am and 5pm, you don’t need to heat your house during this time.

If your central heating doesn’t currently have this functionality, it could be worth investing in getting smart controllers installed, but as always, it’s a good idea to do some calculations and weigh up the costs against how much you’d save.

6. Get a smart meter

A smart meter isn’t actually going to reduce your energy usage on its own; it’s more about the effects of having a smart meter.

Research has shown that households with a smart meter are more energy conscious and therefore end up using less energy because they can see how much energy they’re using in real time.

7. Use electric heaters and blankets

Electric heaters and blankets can help you save money on heating costs, especially if you live alone or work from home during the day.

If you’re cold, heating your whole property may be more expensive than using an electric heater or blanket.

Be careful, though; using electric heaters for extended periods of time could end up costing you more. Don’t leave an electric heater or blanket on overnight or unattended, because they can pose a fire risk.

8. Don't leave your appliances on standby

Leaving TV’s, computers, laptops, games consoles, kettles, toasters, chargers and other electronics on standby uses a surprising amount of electricity across the course of a year.

Making sure electronics are fully turned off and not on standby could save you money.

9. Use your oven wisely

Using your oven regularly and for long periods of time can cost a lot of money, so when you do turn it on, try to get the most out of it by doing things like batch cooking and then freezing your food.

10. Be smart when washing

Appliances like washing machines and tumble driers use a huge amount of energy, so use them wisely.

Try washing your clothes at 30°C rather than 40°C and in the summer months, dry your clothes outside rather than use your tumble dryer.

Try not to turn the dishwasher on until it’s full. One less use a week can save you a significant amount of money.

11. Time your showers and reduce your bath times

If you’re in the habit of taking long showers or having a daily bath, it will be costing you dearly.

Try reducing your shower time to four minutes and commit to having a bath once a week.

Check if you're eligible for help with your energy bills

If you’re struggling with the cost of your energy bills, it’s a good idea to check if you’re eligible for any help from the government or your energy company.

There are a number of schemes and grants available, use the Gov.uk website to see if you’re eligible for any support. If you’re struggling financially, visit Citizens Advice or Money Helper for free, impartial advice.

The information provided does not constitute financial advice, it’s always important to do your own research to ensure a financial product is right for your circumstances. If you’re unsure you should contact an independent financial advisor.

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