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UK households spend around £1,000 a year on their energy bills. Exact expenditure varies but Ofgem indicates that about 4% of household income goes on energy. That percentage increases the lower your income is.
With most households in the UK spending four figures on gas and electricity bills every year, reducing bills or keeping them at a manageable level is crucial for the health of most people’s finances. We’ve gathered some of our best tips in this guide so that you can keep your costs down.
There are a number of ways to save money on heating; some are more effective than others. The best solution by far is getting good insulation installed. Modern houses lose the vast majority of heat through their walls and roofs but both of these can be insulated.
Cavity wall insulation can be a big money saver for most properties built after the 1930s. Expandable foam is pumped into gaps between the two layers of your house’s walls to stop heat escaping between the bricks. Government grants could also be available to cover some or all of the installation costs.
Roof installation that is between 120mm and 270mm thick can also save you a lot of money in the long run. Paying for thicker insulation is expensive but it will pay itself back if you’re in the property for a long time.
If you can’t afford the initial outlay for insulation or you already have it, there are other ways to save a bit of money on heating. Draft excluders and letterbox bristles will reduce heat loss from your doors. Filling in gaps beneath skirting boards helps insulate your floor. Even simply drawing your curtains in every room at night can keep your house warm in the colder months.
Many smaller solutions won’t save you as much money as insulation in the long run but their impact adds up. Given their low cost, making small changes is one of the easiest ways to keep your bills down.
Lighting the average home adds up to about about 15% of the total energy bill, which could equal £150 per year or more. There is no need to pay anywhere near that amount of money if you switch your bulbs to energy saving alternatives. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) cost just a third of what common halogen bulbs cost to run and light emitting diodes (LEDs) just a fifth.
Environmentally friendly bulbs are just as readily available as halogens and have been developed to give off the same warm, yellow light. CFLs and LEDs tend to cost slightly more per unit than halogen bulbs but this extra outlay can often be earned back in under a year. Their longer lifespans also lower their cost over time.
An LED costs an estimated £55 to buy and run over the course of its 25 year lifespan. In that same time span, running a CFL will cost £75, which is slightly more expensive but nothing compared to the £250 you’d have to pay to keep a halogen bulb on. The difference is even more stark when multiplied across the number of bulb sockets you’d find in most homes.
Household appliances can be very expensive to run. It won’t surprise anyone that the biggest energy consumers are fridge freezers, electric hobs and electric tumble dryers. We’ve actually written a whole guide to energy efficient fridge freezers, given that they can account for 7% of your total energy bill.
Any electrical appliance should come with an energy rating label giving it a grade between A++ and a G. The savings that can be made by getting a higher rated appliance can be significant. The annual price difference between a G rated fridge freezer and an A++ rated model could be as high as £50. The biggest savings tend to be available where your larger appliances are old and outdated. Modern versions will be much more efficient even if you do need to pay a little bit of money to acquire them.
The other guideline to follow alongside energy ratings is size. Regardless of rating, a smaller appliance will almost always use less energy than a larger appliance. A small, A-rated fridge will use less energy than a large A++ rated fridge. This is because energy grades measure relative efficiency based on wattage and size, not actual energy consumption. Buy appliances that are as big as you need but no bigger if you want to save money.
The Green Deal is an initiative run by the Green Deal Finance Company. It is now a privately owned scheme, though a previous incarnation was run solely by the government. The scheme aims to provide loans for environmentally friendly installations that are then paid back with the money that the installations save. It is designed as a way to make energy efficient solutions more accessible by removing the high initial cost.
The scheme funds a variety of green projects, including the installation of more efficient boilers, wall insulation and products that run on renewable energy. To see whether or not you could be eligible for a Green Deal loan, visit their providers page. This page gives you details of the companies that actually provide Green Deal services and gives you contact information for them. You can also find out more on the UK government website.
Many UK customers can save money on their energy bills just by switching their suppliers. The lion’s share of the market still belongs to the so-called Big Six – British Gas, EDF, E.ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE – but moving to a different supplier can help you to save a lot of money. This is particularly the case if you’re on a standard variable tariff:
The Big Six have been criticised heavily in the past for anti-competitive behaviour and the inflation of energy prices. These criticisms, along with the emergency of viable alternatives, have lead to an increase in the market share for independent suppliers like Robin Hood Energy.
Independent suppliers provide cheaper quotes and different tariffs. The choice that they provide is essential for keeping energy bills manageable.
A mixture of common sense, research and investing in energy saving appliances can help you to reduce your gas and electricity bills significantly. Even small savings add up, so start wherever you feel comfortable and implement the changes that you think you can afford. Remember that options like the Green Deal and switching your supplier also exist to make saving even easier.
If you’re interested in seeing whether you could save money by switching, take a look at Robin Hood Energy’s tariffs today.