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 Edward Heath 'raped 12 year-old boy at Mayfair flat'
- 2 London is the most googled city in the world
- 3 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 4 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
- 5 Richard Dawkins ridicules Sabrina Corgatelli for claiming her giraffe kill was 'ethical'
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
iJobs Money & Business
£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...
£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...
Day In a Page
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.