With the country in the grip of the most severe cold snap for decades, household energy consumption is soaring and many will be dreading their heating bills. We look at how to keep those costs to a minimum while still staying warm.
Are you on the best deal?
Millions of households are paying more than they need for gas and electricity. If you are paying your provider's standard rates you could cut your bills by an average of £325 a year. The major energy suppliers have also launched cheaper tariffs in recent months, so even if you have switched before you may be able to make further savings by moving again.
Are there rooms in your house that are only used once in a while? If so, then turning the heating down – or even off – in unused areas will knock your energy bill down and cut your usage considerably. And turn the heating down slightly. According to the Energy Saving Trust, turning your thermostat down by just one degree can save an average of £55 on your annual energy bill.
A lot of our energy is wasted by appliances and gadgets that are left on standby or plugged in, and by leaving lights on in rooms that aren't being used. So turn things off properly and switch lights off when you leave a room.
Mobile phone chargers are a key one: if the charger is plugged in it will be using electricity, even if your phone isn't on charge
Keep an eye on your usage
If you need an incentive to help you cut down, it may be worth investing in an energy monitor (below). These plug into your home and show you how much energy you are using at any one time, plus how much it is costing you per hour.
When you see how much electricity your washing machine uses it will definitely ensure you only do a wash when you really do have a full load. And your tumble drier may scare you: having things drying in the dining room or spare bedroom may not be such an issue after all.