As Heating Bills Rise, Put Your Energy Down to Cut Costs | Money
Millions of people are expected to see their heating bills increase from next month – and some predict more increases next year.
The surge in wholesale gas prices in the first part of this year recently led energy regulator Ofgem to raise its price cap, and the 11 million households that pay by direct debit will see prices drop from an average. from £ 1,138 per year to £ 1,277. starting at October.
And because wholesale energy prices continue to be so high, it is now suggested that there will be a second increase next April to account for the increases.
However, there are ways to lower your bills. Paul Winney of the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE), a Bristol-based charity, explains that there are simple steps you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Know what you are using
The first step in reducing the amount of energy you use is knowing exactly what is going on. Energy companies are providing a new generation of smart meters as part of the government’s national program to replace older models. These allow consumers to see in more detail what they are using.
If you don’t have a smart meter, check with your supplier to see if they install them in your area. Or you can buy one for between £ 30-40, usually with a sensor that clips onto a power cable to measure energy consumed, and a display detailing usage. As Winney explains, “It will show the impact of turning on or off a particular light or device. It can tell you which things in your house are using the most.
“It can help you decide which power-hungry devices to use sparingly to keep costs down. “
Typically, devices that have moving parts or that produce heat use more energy than those that produce light or sound. Typically, the device that will use the most is an electric shower, followed by an immersion heater, according to the CSE, but it also depends on how long a device is turned on.
A refrigerator, which has low energy consumption, actually consumes a significant amount of energy simply because it is always on.
The best way to judge energy efficiency is to use the energy labels on an appliance, those rated “A” or above most efficient for their size, an important consideration when purchasing a new machine. .
According to the price comparison site, a washing machine with an A +++ rating will typically use £ 65 less energy than an A + machine over an 11-year product life. SilverSuperMarket, while a modern dishwasher will cost £ 7 less per year compared to an older model.
Heat can be lost through openings in windows, doors and floors, with older homes being particularly vulnerable. Mailboxes, attic hatches and unused fireplaces also pose potential problems.
Simple solutions include installing foam strips and plastic gaskets – you can buy them at your local DIY store, usually for under £ 10, and they’re easy to install.
The Energy Saving Trust, a non-profit campaigning for energy efficiency, says bringing in a professional to protect a home from drafts should cost around £ 200 and can be useful if you have features such as sash windows.
Insulating walls and attics will make your home more energy efficient. If you are upgrading a heating system, good insulation may mean that you will only have to install a smaller, cheaper system that can run more efficiently, according to the trust.
In an uninsulated house, a quarter of the heat is lost through the roof. Attic insulation will last around 40 years and can be done by a professional or a homeowner, according to the CSE.
MoneySuperMarket estimates the cost to set it up between £ 285 and £ 395 for a professional, depending on the type of property – a terraced house will cost more than a detached house.
Homes with extensions should also consider flat roof insulation. “They can lose a lot of heat and are expensive to insulate, so it’s usually best to do this at the same time as regular maintenance or repairs,” advises Winney.
How to pay
The way you pay your bills can have a direct impact on what you pay. If you can, paying by direct debit can be cheaper, as providers often offer discounts, says Stephen Murray of MoneySuperMarket.
The energy comparator UK Power says discounts can reach 6% for a monthly direct debit or 3% for a quarterly direct debit.
In addition, Ofgem may soon ask suppliers to return £ 1.4bn in customer credit to households as part of plans to prevent energy companies from keeping customer credit balances. Under the proposed rules, suppliers will be required to “automatically return” additional credit to customers each year on the anniversary date of their membership with the supplier.
It may also pay to look at your meter. By sending regular readings (if your smart meter isn’t already doing this for you), you’ll make sure you’re only paying for the energy you actually used. Otherwise, you run the risk of estimated bills.
And the old adage, as with all services, also applies: make sure you look for the best price. There are 49 energy providers in the UK, according to Ofgem, and upgrading to a better deal can save hundreds of dollars in savings every year. Ofgem has a list of 11 approved comparison sites that it has accredited.
The average person in the UK uses 145 liters of water every day and more than a fifth of energy bills come from heating, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
One way to cut down on the amount you use is to use an aerated shower head, which mixes water and air, drastically reducing the amount used. These cost from under £ 20 on Amazon to hundreds of pounds.
Or you could just spend less time in the bathroom. The average person spends seven and a half minutes a day in the shower. Simple four-minute timers, which can be attached to the side of the shower, are readily available and – if everyone in the house plays along – could drastically reduce the amount of water used.