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

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."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
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

    Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

    Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee