Keeping Energy Bills Down Through Tough Times

Reduce your household running costs with our top tips!

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You can’t avoid the fact that energy prices are increasing heftily come 1October; and that they’re set to do so again just months afterward. Cutting back on energy usage through the colder months isn’t easy, as after all, you need to keep warm and dry. But there are some actions you can take to help evade unaffordable bills and lower the costs of your household through these difficult times. Read on for our top tips.

Confirm Your Payments

If you haven’t yet had contact with your energy provider, get in touch with them to confirm what your payments will be for the next few months. If you’re on a direct debit, don’t assume it will stay the same – in actual fact, it will likely be automatically risen in line with the new fees. If you have a fixed tariff, this will usually only be for a set time period and so it’s important that you know when it changes so you can prepared for the rise when it does. 
If you can’t afford to pay any more than you are already but know your bills will go up, be honest with your provider. They will be able to offer assistance and split payments across the year to make things more affordable.
It’s currently not recommended that you switch to a new provider, but keep an eye on consumer champion websites to monitor the latest guidance. If you do choose to switch, be sure there’s no crippling exit fees from your current contract: or things could end up inadvertently more expensive.

Know Your Rights

Don’t assume that you’re not entitled to any help. Check your entitlement to all benefits (not just energy bills ones) either through an online calculator or talking to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. 
Many people don’t realise their entitlements and so don’t claim. If you live alone, for example, you can take advantage of 25% off your council tax bill; which for most saves hundreds of pounds a year. Anyone who had to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic can claim tax relief for that period and a variety of fuel poverty grants are available for older people and low income households.
A £400 grant awarded directly toward energy bills is being paid to all British households over a 6-month period from October 2022 and this will reduce your bills automatically.

Identify Areas Of Heat Loss

Heat loss happens in houses, no matter how well insulated your home is – and can considerably increase the cost of energy bills. According to some surveys, all households pay an average of £55 per year across their bills for heating they don’t retain as a result!
The most common way for heat to escape a home is through poorly glazed windows and doors, unused chimneys, unused vents and uninsulated walls.
Of course, hot air rises and so if you’re in a house with a loft or attic space, it’s imperative that this is properly insulated. There does exist lots of specialist insulation companies to help install this, but it can too be done as a DIY job with a little patience and time.

Turn Devices Off

It may sound a little excessive, but leaving power sockets turned on costs the average British household an additional £147 per year on their bills, according to British Gas!
Plug sockets don’t ‘know’ whether or not there’s a device connected to them and so if turned on, will continue to supply electricity. In the industry they’re known as ‘energy vampires’; so don’t forget to flick the switch off once you’re done with it.

Check Your Boiler Efficiency

Boilers are often considered an expense drain in the home, and indeed if something goes wrong with it, you can be for a costly time. While no one other than a certified engineer should play around with a boiler, there are some safe and simple changes that can be made by homeowners to help lessen their reliance on them and lower their energy bills as a result.
Most boilers have a temperature flow of 75°c but reducing this to 60°c will have little tangible impact on temperature; but a big one on the efficiency of the system. At 60°c, your boiler is more able to condense water vapour and recover latent heat from it, which otherwise will be lost. 
Checking your boiler pressure and keeping it between 1-2 bars can also help with heating energy; ensuring cold spots are minimised.

Protect Against Draughts

Draught proofing can be a cheap yet effective measure to help retain heat around the home and improve a property’s thermal efficiency. 
Low-cost draught proofing solutions can be bought from high street hardware stores and installed around doors, windows and floorboards. Sturdier products may be suitable for chimneys – and the Energy Savings Trust estimates a household with a draughty chimney could save £20 a year on that alone!

Embrace Tech

The energy efficiency improvements that homeowners are most likely to benefit from the most are long-term changes which will add up over time.
LED light bulbs are one such change, with estimations of cost savings said to be around £100 in just two years compared to more traditional light. Using smart plugs and keeping devices on standby can also help unnecessary energy wastage, and where device-based apps exist for the turning on and off of plugged-in items, this can make a huge difference. 
Heating controls installed throughout the home can also have a vast impact and be integrated without the need for a boiler replacement. Many allow for room ‘zoning’ temperature changes and lots have specific energy-saving settings.

Thinking about skyrocketing energy bills can easily lead homeowners to feel despair; not least because there seems to be no end in sight for rises. But tackling the issue head on, making a few smart changes and changing your usage habits can really help – and you know what they say, every little does!

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