Gas and Electric: Here’s how you can Save Money
Expensive energy bills affect everyone, and thinking about your utilities can be one of the most effective ways of saving on household expenditure.
Using a comparison site to weigh up different energy suppliers and price plans is perhaps the simplest and most valuable first step.
You should also look out for collective energy switching schemes – by registering to join one of these you can take advantage of the community’s group bargaining power which it uses to negotiate deals with energy suppliers. The tariffs on offer can be cheaper than those available to the wider market.
When you select your gas and/or electricity supplier(s), choosing the following options are also likely to qualify you for discounts:
- Paying by direct debit
- Using an online price plan
Historically, the guidance also used to be to choose a dual fuel tariff rather than getting your energy from separate gas and electricity suppliers, as firms offer discounts for sourcing both utilities through them.
However, complex pricing plans and the rise of suppliers specializing in just gas and electric means that this is not now necessarily the case – you may find that sourcing your gas and electric separately will prove the cheaper option.
There’s little doubt that a dual fuel plan is a more convenient option, though, as you’ll only have one supplier to deal with.
There are a number of other measures you can take to save money, but the first step is to look at your energy consumption and to see if there are ways of reducing it – something that will also help the environment.
There are simple but effective ways to cut your consumption and – while some of them may involve initial outlay for long-term gain – others needn’t cost a thing.
Turn it off!
- Switch off lights when the room is not in use
- Switch appliances off rather than leaving them on stand-by when not in use
- Be aware of your bills
- Submit regular meter readings to give an accurate idea of your usage
- Read your bills every time you receive them
- If you’re overpaying on energy, tell your provider
- Look after the basics
- Draught-proof windows, doors and loft access points, and consider measures such as ‘brush’ barriers for letterboxes, pet flaps and keyholes
- Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-saving versions
- If your shower takes water direct from a boiler or hot water tank (ie it’s not an electric shower), consider installing an eco-shower head
- Close the doors on unused, unheated rooms to prevent cold air from circulating
- If you have wooden floors, rugs can help reduce heat loss. Use filling to close gaps in flooring and skirting boards
Windows and patio doors
- Open curtains, blinds and shades in the daytime to make the most of natural sunlight, close them at dusk to retain heat
- Thick curtains, especially those with thermal linings, can make a difference
If your fireplace is only decorative then consider closing it off with a chimney balloon to prevent draughts
- Turn radiators off in rooms that are not in regular use, or turn them to a low setting
- Use the timing on your heating sensibly – you don’t need it on all day if you’re not in
- Turn back your heating thermostat and put on extra clothes
- Bleeding your radiators can get rid of air bubbles that cause inefficiency
- A shelf placed above a radiator can help direct heat – particularly valuable when a window is above the radiator
- Try to keep the front of your radiator clear of furniture and other heat-absorbers
- Putting heat-reflective tin foil behind radiators can help keep heat inside the house, and you could consider investing in a radiator booster (note that opinion is divided on the effectiveness of boosters)
- Fit a tank jacket around your hot water cylinder if it doesn’t already have one
- Lag any exposed pipework around the boiler and the hot water cylinder
In the kitchen
- Put lids on saucepans when cooking, enabling you to turn down the heat
- Don’t fill your kettle to the top – boil the water you need
- Regularly defrosting your freezer will improve its efficiency
- Full fridges and freezers work more efficiently than empty ones – if food stocks are low, think about putting some water-filled containers in there
- Keep the back of fridges and freezers ventilated and dust free and replace any damaged seals
- Keep fridges and freezers away from sources of heat like boilers and ovens, and out of direct sunlight
There are multiple grants and other sources of support available for those who are struggling with their gas and electricity costs.