It’s all over the news, wholesale prices for gas are soaring and several energy suppliers in the UK have gone bust. Instead of searching for cheaper deals (unless your supplier has gone under), now could be a good time to improve the energy efficiency of your home & reduce your gas and electricity bills.
Why have energy prices increased so much?
In summary, there has been a worldwide shortage of gas and energy supplies, pushing the cost of gas for suppliers. A boost by 250% since the start of the year, with a 50% rise just since August, data shows. According to the BBC, the cold winter in Europe last year put pressure on supplies and, as a result, stored gas levels are much lower than normal. Plus, there’s been increased demand from Asia (which also suffered a cold winter) for liquefied natural gas. Higher gas prices have also pushed up electricity prices because Britain generates around a third of its electricity from burning natural gas.
From your food preparation to your washing machine to even your heating, below are twelve handy tips to save on your energy costs at home:
Use a microwave to heat up your food
Using a microwave is a more efficient way to heat up and cook food because a stronger level of heat can be focused on whatever’s being cooked.
Replace your light bulbs with energy saving ones
Energy-saving light bulbs can help you to cut your energy bills easily. An LED light bulb costs only around £1.71 a year to run. Over its lifetime, that could save around £180 from your energy bills, compared with an old-style bulb.
Defrost your frozen food over night
Defrosting your frozen food in the fridge overnight or whilst you are out, could half the cooking time and also means that you don’t need to use the energy of a microwave to defrost it more quickly.
Wash your clothes at a cooler temperature
About 90% of the energy used by the washing machine during laundry goes towards heating the water. Using a colder water wash at 30-40°C, could reduce energy waste and save you money, yet still keep your clothes clean.
Don’t leave any appliances plugged in that are not being used
Appliances plugged in that aren’t being used wasted a fair bit of electricity. Experts have said it can be up to 3% of your total energy bill. This could be simply a case of turning off mobile phone charging points.
Install a smart meter & Thermostat
If your supplier offers smart meters to you, it makes sense to install them. This will point where in the house you are using the most energy, helping you react accordingly. Several suppliers install room thermostats, so you set a max temperature per room, typically 18 – 21 degrees Celsius should be fine.
Install a new boiler
Apart from ensuring boiler safety, upgrading to a highly-rated boiler can improve your home’s energy efficiency, particularly if your boiler is 10 years older or more. After an initial boiler cost, it could pay its cost after a few years of energy saving. A new combi boiler costs between £1,500 to £3,500 including installation, depending on the type of boiler you’d like, its warranty length, and labour costs.
Don’t leave the tap running
A tap can waste more than six litres of water per minute, so be sure to turn it off unless you are washing or brushing your teeth. It is also recommended to mend any leaking taps. It’s perhaps shocking to learn that a dripping tap left for a year could add as much as £100 onto the cost of your water bill. Even a tap that drips slowly is losing over 180 litres a day, or 66,000 litres of water over the course of a year.
Use energy-efficient electric appliances
Some appliances, like dishwashers, run on electricity as opposed to gas, so it’s worth seeking out the most energy-efficient models to ensure you’re not spending more than you need to. Look for models rated A+++ by the EU as a general guide.
Insulate your property
A quarter of your home’s heat is lost through the roof as warm air rises a lot. Consider not just insulating your loft, but also your walls, water pipes, floors and cellar. Weatherizing, or sealing air leaks around your home, is a great way to reduce your heating and cooling expenses. The most common sources of air leaks into your home are vents, windows, and doors. Naomi from Skintdad recommends to “look after your fridge freezer. It’s worthwhile cleaning the back of the fridge with a vacuum from time to time to remove dust build-up on the condenser coils. This can improve efficiency (and lower your costs) by 30%.”
Consider double glazing
If you’ve got single glazing (or heat is escaping through the doors and windows) double glazing could trap heat better. Again, after an initial cost, it could pay for itself in a few years.
Switch to a better energy tariff
Martin Lewis of MSE recommends “doing nothing, inaction is now the best action”. However, if you are out of contract or your supplier has gone out of business, consider comparing energy deals. Octopus Energy could be worth looking into. They offer renewable energy, a competitively priced tariff and no fixed contract, along with a £50 referral joining bonus (I get £50 too off my energy bill). Check out my Octopus Energy review here. You can also compare other energy deals on MoneySuperMarket, uSwitch and CompareTheMarket.
Finally, if you are from a low-income household or on benefits you could get £140 off their electricity bill through the UK’s Warm Home Discount scheme. Sarah from Debt Camel provides an up to date list of active suppliers. If you have any energy-saving tips, please share them in the comments below.
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