Shedding light on how to slash those rising energy bills
Chiara Cavaglieri and Julian Knight show how you can cut the ever-spiralling cost of gas and electricity
The cost of heating and lighting our homes is higher than it has ever been and with recent increases announced by the bulk of the "big six" suppliers this is only set to rise and rise. The average annual dual-fuel bill, covering gas and electricity, stands at £1,315 per household, according to energy regulator Ofgem, but that is probably now an underestimate. Fortunately, though, there are many things that you can do to bring those bills down by several hundred pounds.
Switch to a cheaper tariff
Many people are stuck on the most-expensive tariff, despite potential savings of £140 a year – the average amount saved by people using the Which? Switch service – and the opportunity to lock in no price hikes for up to four years.
Speak to your current supplier first to find out whether they can move you onto a cheaper tariff. You could also save up to 6 per cent if you pay your bills by monthly direct debit. Otherwise, use a comparison site to help you get a better deal, looking out for online tariffs as these are typically the cheapest option. Even if you rent rather than own your home, you are entitled to change supplier at any time. Suppliers are responsible for managing the switch and your existing supplier must continue to provide your energy until it takes place. But be warned that for now the whole process can take up to eight weeks.
Tackle any draughts
Draught-proofing is one of the cheapest and most-efficient ways to save energy. Seal draughts coming from gaps around windows and doors, skirting boards, loft hatches, keyholes and letter boxes. You can also buy a chimney balloon which is inflated in your fireplace to stop cold air coming in. Full DIY draught-proofing costs around £100 for materials but saves up to £55 a year so it won't take long to pay for itself.
Upgrade your boiler
A new boiler certainly isn't cheap (you can expect to pay around £2,300) but they do account for more than half of what you spend in the year on energy bills, so if yours is getting on for 15 years old it's probably time for an upgrade. Replacing an old gas boiler with an A-rated condensing boiler could save you as much as £310 a year.
At the very least, make sure your boiler is as efficient as it can be by making sure it has an annual service and safety check. If you live in an older house with a poorly insulated hot-water tank, wrap it up in a cylinder jacket to reduce heat loss by 70 per cent.
Install a room thermostat to use your heating controls more effectively. You can pick when you want the heating to come on, restricted to the areas where it's needed and at the right temperature. Smart meters also help you take control, and although there are no direct savings, the display shows your latest energy usage and costs, giving you a much-clearer idea of how to lower your bills.
Insulate your roof and walls
One third of the heat you are paying for disappears through the roof, so get the loft insulated (costing roughly £300) and save yourself up to £180 per year if your loft has nothing in place, or top up your existing insulation from 100mm to 270mm to save around £25.
Cavity-wall insulation also keeps the warmth in and can help reduce condensation. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) says cavity insulation typically costs £450 to £500 to install but can save an average, three-bedroom home up to £140 a year on its bills. If you're on a low income and receive benefits such as child tax credit and pension credit, you may be eligible for free home insulation from one of the energy firms or your local council.
Fit an eco-showerhead
Some water companies are giving water-efficient shower heads away for free and installing one could save a family of four around £75 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £90 on water bills if they have a water meter.
Double glaze your windows
Double glazing is expensive to install but you'll cut heat loss by an impressive 50 per cent, saving around £170 a year on bills if you replace all single-glazed windows with B-rated double glazing. It should last for at least 20 years and not only will your home be warmer, but you can turn down the heating to save a few more quid, and you'll drown out some of the outside noise too.
Switch to a wood-burning stove
Switching from gas heating to wood-fuelled heating would save you around £100 a year.
The installation costs can be steep – EST says an individual pellet stove will cost around £4,300 including installation, while a new log stove will cost half this, including a new flue or chimney lining – and you'll have to factor in the cost of the wood pellets, chips or logs. If your home is heated electrically, you could save huge sums by switching to a wood-fuelled system. The initial outlay is between £7,000 and £13,000 including installation, but you could save £580 per year and you can also apply for a £2,000 grant under the renewable heat premium payment scheme.
Invest in renewable technology
While electricity costs are going up, the cost of solar panels is going down, so it could be a great time to invest in solar photovoltaics and benefit from savings as well as income from the Government's feed-in tariffs which pay you for the electricity you generate, even if you use it. A typical 4kWP panel could generate and save you £785 per year (knocking £143 off your electricity bill).
It may also be worth exploring other technologies such as solar -thermal panels and air-source heat pumps, as there are financial rewards available through the Government's renewable heat incentive.
Five-minute bill fix
Turn the thermostat down by at least 1ºC to reduce annual bills by up to 10 per cent
Save £50-£90 a year by turning off lights, appliances and chargers when you're not using them
Switch to energy-saving bulbs, and buy LED spotlights to replace halogens
Save more than £55 a year by being careful how you use your kitchen appliances; wash your laundry at 30°C, use a bowl to wash up and don't fill your kettle right up
Use the sun's light and warmth during the day but close your curtains at dusk to keep the heat in
Keep the heat circulating by moving large furniture away from radiators and buy reflective insulating wrap to go behind them
Save baths for a treat because showers use a third of the energy
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 3 Fight Club 2: Chuck Palahniuk sequel is a 'meta-fictional comment on the cultural response to the original'
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
iJobs Money & Business
£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...
£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...
£100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...
Day In a Page
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar