Slash your energy bills in 6 simple steps

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The Independent Online

Now the cold winter weather has arrived, make sure you keep the cost of your gas and electricity bills down by following these six top tips.

As Britain continues to be hit hard by heavy rain and temperatures plummet below freezing, many of us will be spending more time indoors with the heating on.

If you're worried about the cost of heating your home this winter, it's vital you take action now to prevent expensive energy bills arriving on your doorstep in January.

Here are six ways you can help reduce your energy bills and still stay warm.

1. Switch suppliers

In today’s privatised energy market, energy suppliers compete for new customers by undercutting one another's prices.

This means, if you stay loyal to the same supplier, it's unlikely you’ll be getting the most competitively priced deal on your gas and electricity.

In fact, if you've never changed your energy supplier, or haven’t done so in the last twelve months, you could save up to £430 this year by switching today.

Compare Gas and Electricity prices and save up to £430 through Independent Compare

2. Go online

Right now, most of the cheapest energy tariffs on the market are available for online customers only.

Therefore, if you're able to manage your account via the internet and can supply your provider with regular online meter readings you could save yourself a tidy sum.

Your energy costs may work out cheaper still if you opt for a "dual fuel" tariff (where you purchase your gas and electricity from the same provider). This is also likely to be more convenient as you only have to contact one provider if you have any queries.

3. Pay by direct debit

Choosing to pay your bills by direct debit could save you a significant sum. Many suppliers will offer you a discount in return for the security of knowing you will make your payments on time.

What's more, if you opt for paperless billing you could save even more money. There is less administration and less cost involved in online billing, which means your supplier can pass some of what they save on to you.

Compare Gas and Electricity prices and save up to £430 through Independent Compare

4. Keep an eye on your meter

It is important to keep a close eye on your energy usage to ensure you don’t pay too little or too much for your gas and electricity.

If you rely on your provider’s estimated meter readings and their guesswork is wrong, you could be hit with an unaffordable bill later down the line. On the other hand, if you find you have been over paying, you may find it difficult to reclaim your money.

Make sure you monitor your meter and keep your energy provider informed of your usage by submitting regular readings. Every time you receive a bill always check the meter reading your supplier has used corresponds to what you can see.

5. Know your rights

If you're struggling to pay your heating bills, it's a good idea to find out if you're entitled to some financial support.

If you're over 60 you're likely to qualify for Winter Fuel Payments, and depending on your age and circumstances you could receive up to £400 in benefits.

Meanwhile, if you're getting Pension Credit or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, you may be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment. For more information you can visit direct.gov.uk.

It's also a good idea to find out if you can apply for grants to help improve the energy efficiency of your home.

6. Don't waste energy

Being more energy efficient is an excellent way to save money on your energy bills and help the environment.

Simple steps such as remembering to turn the lights of when you leave the room, only boiling as much water as you need and not leaving electrical devices on standby can all help to dramatically reduce your energy costs.

What's more, according to Energywatch by turning your thermostat down by just one degree centigrade you could cut your heating bills by 10 per cent.

It's also a sensible idea to use energy saving lightbulbs wherever possible. Not only do they use less energy than regular bulbs, they last much longer, which means you won’t have to replace them as often.

Finally, be aware that around half of heat loss in the average home is lost through the walls and loft. Cavity wall insulation and double glazing can both help to significantly reduce the cost of heating your home.

Meanwhile, simple draught proofing measures can also help save you money. Make sure you seal any badly fitting windows, doors and gaps in the floorboards to stop hot air escaping and cold air entering.

Compare Gas and Electricity prices and save up to £430 through Independent Compare

Victoria Bischoff is a writer for BeatThatQuote.com



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