You don't have to feel the chill in your energy bills
Some suppliers are hiking gas and electricity prices, but households can slash their costs by switching
Sunday 30 October 2005
However, while temperatures may be about to plummet, energy prices are not. So before you turn up the heating, check you're not paying over the odds to stay warm.
Many energy providers have raised their prices in the past few months. British Gas has increased the cost of gas and electricity by 14.2 per cent for around 16 million homes - a move expected to add some £100 to the typical annual energy bill.
Powergen raised its electricity prices by 7.2 per cent and gas by 11.9 per cent, while Scottish Power has pushed its gas prices up by 12 per cent and its electricity by up to 8 per cent.
These companies have blamed the high oil price and an increase in wholesale energy costs, but consumer groups say these are not going up to the same extent as domestic bills.
"A staggering 91 per cent of all customers are now paying an average of £91 more for their gas than they were at the start of this year," says Alan Tattersall at the price-comparison service uSwitch.com.
However, with plenty of pro- viders competing for your custom, one of the easiest ways to cut costs is change your supplier.
If you have never switched, you could be paying around £230 a year more than you need to for your energy, according to figures from uSwitch.
Making use of the calculators on the internet sites listed below, you can work out how much you could save by doing so. Simply type in your postcode, and how much your gas and electricity currently cost, and the website then comes up with a range of cheaper alternatives. Once you have made the decision to switch, your details will be forwarded to your chosen supplier; the whole process should take no more than six weeks.
Consumers who are concerned that their gas or electricity supply might be interrupted during the switch should not worry: households keep the same pipes, circuits, wires and safety coverage.
You can also reduce the amount you pay by changing the way you settle your bills. If you are paying by cheque every quarter, you could save up to £67 a year by moving to direct debit - and even more if you switch to an online account, according to consumer group Energywatch. People on pre-payment meters could save up to £101 using direct debit.
Another way of cutting costs is to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) has launched a new campaign called "Save your 20 per cent" - encouraging households to cut down on emissions, help the environment and save themselves up to £250.
The EST says you could save a quarter of your home's energy use - and between £140 and £170 every year - by insulating your loft. Filling your cavity walls could shave a fifth off your property's energy use - saving you up to £120 a year.
You could also take a third off heating costs by replacing your boiler with a high-efficiency condensing model, and another £20 off your energy bills by fitting an insulating jacket on your hot water tank.
If you use a light for more than four hours a day, replace your bulbs with energy-saving models - for an annual saving of £7.
Government and local authority grants are available to homeowners to help make these changes; contact the EST for more details.
From January 2007, anyone wanting to sell their house will be legally required to compile a Home Information Pack (HIP), containing key information about a property's condition. In essence, the responsibility for carrying out surveys is passing from the buyer to the seller.
An important part of the HIP will be the Home Condition Report, which will provide impartial and reliable information on a property's energy efficiency and detail issues such as levels of thermal insulation and types of heating system. Further, these reports will suggest cost-effective measures to improve energy efficiency.
'The switch was so simple'
Shirine Elwakil, 21, a hairdresser from Croydon, south London, has cut her bills by around £200 a year after switching supplier.
Before changing, she was paying £100 a month in total to have her gas supplied by British Gas and her electricity by Seeboard Energy.
"My boyfriend and I had moved into a two-bedroom flat and we were a bit careless as we hadn't even thought about how much the bills might cost," she says.
When Shirine contacted SimplySwitch.com with details of her existing bills, staff recommended that she opt for a dual-fuel deal with Atlantic Electric & Gas.
By doing so, she was able to make her saving of some £200 a year.
"The switching process was so simple," she explains.
"It only takes around a month for the whole process to be completed."
Will your credit card rewards be scrapped following new EU rules on charges?
Dirty tricks in a divorce can cause some nasty surprises
What would happen if you put a statistician in a casino with £1m?
10 tips for taking out a personal loan
Simon Read: 'The fight must go on over equality on expat pensions'
- 1 The scientist who takes 100 drugs a day so he can live to 150
- 2 The Visit: Trailer for M Night Shyamalan's latest horror film is terrifying
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...
£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Application Support Analyst / 1st L...
£45K - £55K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a full stack .NET D...
Day In a Page
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
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, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
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.
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 four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
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.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
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.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
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.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
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
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads