The cost of owning or renting a home can soon add up when it comes to your utility bills. Whether you pay for your gas and electricity separately or on one single tariff, there are always ways to reduce it, you just have to be a little bit savvy. Utility Talk has the lowdown on how you can cut the cost of your bills.
1. When choosing a provider, make sure you get a fixed tariff
With energy bills, there are two types of tariffs: fixed and standard. The latter is a default tariff, allowing the price that you pay to go up or down depending on the market. They can be a good option if you don’t want to be tied to a contract, but they’re not normally the cheapest option. A fixed tariff offers guaranteed charges and unit rates until a specific end date. The only problem with fixed tariffs is that there is a fee for leaving, so in the unlikely event that prices do drop rapidly, you’ll be charged a fee for leaving.
2. Always pay online
Energy companies tend to save their best deals for online customers who pay by Direct Debit rather than cash and cheque. Sometimes, they offer discount if you pay by this method. You can also cut costs by looking at your bills online rather than receiving them in the post.
3. Layer up and turn down the thermostat
Dial on radiator — Image by © Image Source/Corbis
Turn down the thermostat a couple of degrees and put on a cardigan or a jumper- doing this can save you hundreds of pounds on your bill per year. Make sure you use a central heating and hot water timer when you are out for the day.
4. Turn off the lights
This is another simple one, but as we have so many devices in our houses now it can often be overlooked. Turn off the lights in rooms that you aren’t using, as well as any devices which have an ‘idle’ light, such as the television, DVD player or phone charger. Lastly, wait until your dishwasher is full before you turn it on.
5. Close the curtains at night
Don’t let the heat escape! Closing your curtains of a night can ensure that no heat slips through the cracks. You can also buy draught blockers for doors, ensuring you get every degree of heat that you need. Use the lowest heat setting possible (usually 30 degrees) on your washing machine. In the kitchen, only boil as much water as you need- you can even buy kettles which do this for you, ensuring you save energy.
6. Regularly read your meter
Occasionally, energy providers will bill you using ‘estimated readings’. Avoid this by providing your supplier with accurate meter readings at least once every three months. You can record your readings by calling up your supplier or setting up an online account.
7. Get free insulation
Make sure your home is energy efficient by taking advantage of any free insulation deals. Loft insulation can save you up to £175 a year, whilst cavity wall insulation can save you a further £135.
8. Double glaze your windows
Double glazing can make an immense difference to the amount of heat that stays in your home rather than escaping. However, the expensive initial cost can put some people off, as it can easily spiral into the thousands to double glaze your whole house. One way to get around this is to use a ‘cling film’ method to trap the heat in. However, you don’t use the cling film from the supermarket, instead visit your local DIY store and ask for double glazing film or stretch wrap. You can expect it to be quite a lot cheaper than double glazing and it is applied to your windows using a hairdryer.
9. Manage your home lighting effectively
If you manage lighting in your home effectively, you will save much more on your energy bills. To do this, make sure that you use energy efficient light bulbs, switch off all the lights in a room when you are not using it and try to use direct lamps or reading lights when the entire room does not need to be lit up- simple tricks that are easy to get into the habit of doing.
10. Make smart choices with your appliances
Make sure that your cold appliances such as fridges and freezers are placed away from any cooking or heating devices. By leaving a gap in between your fridge/freezer and your wall, you will allow the rear of the unit to get a good level of circulation, ensuring that it does not use more energy than it needs. Ensure that you defrost your freezer regularly. If you need to purchase a new appliance, it should have an energy efficiency of A, A+ or AA+ and you should not buy one that is bigger than you will need.
11. Cook well
If possible, try to use a gas cooker and hob when cooking as they use less energy than their electrical equivalent. You should also use lids on your saucepans to keep the heat in and steam vegetables, rather than boil, where possible. Take care when pre-heating your oven, try to ensure that it is not turned on for too long without any food being cooked. Microwaves can also be energy efficient when you are not heating food from frozen, so try and avoid this as much as possible to ensure good practice.
Some of the energy saving tips mentioned in this article may seem obvious, but just making simple changes such as layering up your clothes before you think of touching the thermostat, or closing your curtains at night can make an immense amount of difference. If you make an active effort to do at least some of the things, you will notice a difference in your annual utility bill. Lastly, always shop around when looking for the best deal from a utility provider to ensure you are getting the most for your money. You can use a comparison site such as Money Supermarket or USwitch.com to do this for you, but always double check a deal with the company itself before going ahead.