Thrifty Living: Can you afford not to go green anymore?

Over three quarters of households (78 per cent) have become more energy efficient in the past 12 months and over a third of these (36 per cent) have done so because of the rising cost of gas and electricity. It now seems that the recession is achieving what years of educated debate hasn't – it is making Britain's householders go green.

Now that every penny counts, turning lights off, the heating down and not leaving every gadget in the house on standby suddenly seem far more worthwhile. Taken in isolation, these things may seem like small fry. But, when used as part of an overall strategy to cut the size of your household bills, they could make a real difference to your pocket.

Energy bills

There are two key steps to cutting your energy bills – paying the lowest possible price for the energy you use and learning to use less of it.

Moving to dual fuel, paying by direct debit and signing up to an online energy plan could save up to £350 on your annual household energy bill. Simple measures such as fitting energy-efficient light bulbs, using standby savers and putting on a jumper rather than switching on the heating will help you reduce the amount of energy you use.

Visit the Energy Saving Trust ( www.energysavingtrust.org.uk) or ask your energy supplier for more information. But the biggest impact could be made by reinvesting the money you've saved on your energy bills into bigger energy efficiency projects that will, in turn, help you to save even more energy.

Three out of five people recognise that buying Energy Saving Recommended white goods will save them money in the long run. And a £350 saving on your energy bills through switching to a cheaper plan could be enough to upgrade your old washing machine to a new energy-efficient model.

The other option is to invest in home improvements that will make your property more energy efficient – a new boiler, loft and cavity wall insulation. Again, you could invest savings made on your energy plan, but you should also talk to your energy supplier to see what help they might offer.

Under the Carbon Emission Reduction Targets (CERT) scheme, we are all paying an extra £19 a year on gas and £18 on electricity to provide funding to support energy efficiency measures. This isn't just about giving away free energy efficient light bulbs – energy suppliers are also tasked with helping people to cut their bills by making their homes more efficient. Speak to your supplier to find out if you can benefit from this scheme too.

Green energy plans

In the face of a recession, it may seem counter-intuitive to pay more to have a 'green' energy plan. But don't rule green plans out. If you have never switched before, the chances are that you are on a highly uncompetitive energy plan, so even if you do switch to a green plan you could still be saving money. To find out for sure, make a comparison. Don't worry if you don't have full details of your annual energy usage, it is still possible to get an accurate comparison based on your personal circumstances. A green plan could be the perfect balance for those who are worried about their household budget, but also want to do their bit for the environment.

Ann Robinson is director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Audit Manager Central Functions

    To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...

    Credit Risk Audit Manager

    Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week