The cost of energy just keeps going up, which means that every household will end up paying more and more for electricity year after year. Budgets are already tight for many people. It is necessary to find ways to cut back on energy usage and bring down electricity bills. Below are some of the ways that you can reduce your electricity bill and conserve energy. Doing this will help the environment as well. Follow these cost-effective tips and you will soon save money.
Switch Energy Supplier
If you have been with the same energy supplier for years, they might have switched you onto a higher tariff without you really noticing. There is often a gap of up to a few hundred pounds between a supplier’s standard variable tariff and the cheapest fixed deal. Check if you are on the best tariff your supplier offers. If not, shop around on comparison websites and find the best deal for you. Remember to consider smaller independent energy suppliers too. Check if you will have to pay an exit fee before leaving a tariff. You might also be able to benefit from cashback offers when you switch energy supplier, which you could use to help pay the bills.
Change Payment Method
The way that you pay your electricity bill could also be bringing your costs up unnecessarily. Paying by cash or cheque is outdated and increases administration costs. Setting up a Direct Debit is usually the best option, because it helps to spread the cost of energy bills and budget around them each month. Some energy suppliers even offer a discount for customers who pay by Direct Debit and those who receive paperless bills and make payments online instead.
Read Your Electric Meter
One of the primary reasons for energy suppliers overcharging customers is estimated bills. If they estimate your energy usage, then you could end up paying for more than you actually used. You should provide regular meter readings to your supplier so that your bills will be as accurate as possible. Check your supplier’s website for guidance on reading your meter and how to submit a meter reading. Try to do this at least once every couple of months. Always check the accuracy of your current electricity bill against meter readings and previous bills.
Get a Smart Meter and Monitor
On a similar note, upgrading to a smart meter could be better for your energy usage and billing. Energy suppliers are rolling them out to every household, though they may not be available in your area yet. You can contact your supplier to check if you want to swap to a smart meter with free installation. Smart meters send automatic readings to your supplier, meaning that your bills should be accurate. You should still check them against your meter reading to be sure. Your supplier should also provide a smart meter monitoring device (In-Home Display Unit). Tracking your energy use right in front of you can help you to cut back.
Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances
Replacing all of your appliances is obviously not cost-efficient. But whenever you do need to replace an old appliance, take the opportunity to upgrade to a more energy-efficient model. Most electrical products will come with an EU energy efficiency rating from A to G. The most efficient products have a green A – C label. D is yellow and E is orange, then the least efficient ratings F and G are red. Running costs for appliances such as washing machines can vary by around £50 per year. Upgrading from an old model to the most efficient should reduce bills.
Turn Off Lights and Replace Old Bulbs
It’s common knowledge by now, but people still forget to do it. Turn off the lights when you don’t need them! Keeping lights on when nobody is in the room or you could use a smaller lamp instead of overhead lights is a waste of electricity. This adds up over time and adds onto your bills. In addition, you could swap your light bulbs for more energy-efficient ones. This is a cheaper endeavour then replacing large appliances and could save you anywhere from £50 to £250 a year in lighting costs. Energy-saving bulbs use far less energy and last much longer.
Switch Off Instead of Leaving on Standby
Lots of people forget that switching a device off with its power button doesn’t mean that it is no longer using energy. If you leave things plugged in with the socket switched on, then they are still using a small amount. This can also add up over time. You can shave some money off your electricity bill by making sure that you always turn things off at the wall when you aren’t using them. Unless you want to record live TV while you are out, there is no need to leave the TV or entertainment box on standby! You probably do not need to leave devices charging all night, either, when a few hours is enough. Make switching everything off part of the routine when you leave the house or go to bed. Using power strips can make this easier and faster.
Seal Gaps Against Draughts
Electricity bills can soar in the winter if you are using the power to heat your home. Making sure that your home is sufficiently insulated and sealed against the cold will keep it warmer without having to turn the heating on so much. You can get sealing products like foam quite cheaply and use them to seal up cracks in and around doors, windows, skirting boards, and sockets. Draught-proofing won’t save massive amounts of money, but every little bit helps. Things like cavity insulation are much more expensive. You may be able to get this for free from your energy supplier if you enquire about the ECO scheme for low income households.
Turn Down the Thermostat
If you draught-proof your home as above, then it should be more comfortable without having to keep the heating turned up. If you can afford to do so, turn down the thermostat. Turning it down by just 1 degree can knock up to 10% off your bill. Keep it turned down when nobody is there to need the heating, and only heat living spaces that are actually in use. Investing in a smart thermostat system is worth considering, because you can control it using your phone.
Wash and Dry Differently
Adjusting your washing and drying habits is a two-birds-one-stone situation, because you will also be using less water and reducing your water bill. First of all, only do your laundry or run the dishwasher if there is a full load. You can use less energy by washing clothes at a lower temperature, and drying them on a washing line or an airer instead of using a tumble dryer. Equally, taking shorter showers and only filling the kettle with as much as you need will save both water and the energy to heat it. If you have a heated towel rail – do you really need it?
Check for Discounts and Grants
If you have done all of the above and you are still struggling with expensive electricity bills, then you might be able to get financial support. You may be eligible for government benefits such as Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments, or the Warm Home Discount. If you are in a lot of debt to your energy supplier and you are on a low income, then you might be able to get help to pay it off from a charitable fund. Several energy suppliers offer grants to their customers who are experiencing financial hardships. This includes British Gas, NPower, Scottish Power, OVO, E.ON, and EDF Energy. Contact them to find out how they can help you.