Jay Singh offers his ten ways to reduce your household energy costs
This can be one of the easiest ways to save money, as the energy companies are competing for your business. Trawl through comparison websites (such as energyhelpline.com, moneysupermarket.com and confused.com) to get an idea of the best prices and services available. It’s also possible to compare green tariffs, which allow you to buy through schemes that use, or invest in, renewable energy sources.
Install double glazing
All properties lose heat through their windows. Installing energy-efficient glazing is an effective way of reducing your energy bills and keeping your home warmer and quieter. The costs and savings of double glazing will be different for each home and each window – depending on the size, material and installer – but replacing all single-glazed windows with energy efficient glazing could save you about £135 a year in energy costs. Also, close all your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
Insulate your home
Most heat is lost through the walls, then the loft. Insulating cavity walls, lofts, tanks and pipes can bring significant savings on heating bills as well as reducing CO2 emissions. Specialist insulation materials can be used to insulate solid walls, too. Even simple draught proofing to fill gaps around your windows and doors helps.
Make your own energy
Renewable energy is becoming more popular as consumers not only generate their own electricity, but are paid for every unit of electricity they generate. This is known as the generation tariff, part of the government’s feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme. You can generate even more money by selling unused energy back to the national grid – an additional 3.1p per unit, known as the export tariff. The electricity that you’re paid to generate is available for you to use, and it costs nothing. In fact you’re paid to consume it – so lower electricity bills come as standard.
Switch to direct debits and paperless billing
Many energy companies offer discounts to those paying by direct debit. Setting up paperless billing (getting bills via e-mail rather than the post) often attracts a further saving.
Stop wasting water
Water companies use energy to supply mains water to homes, which is then heated up for showers and washing up, using even more energy. If a family of four each took a five-minute shower each day, rather than a bath just once a week they could save up to £10 a year on energy bills. Don’t waste energy boiling a full kettle if you’re only using some of it for hot drinks. Save about £6 a year by using only the amount needed.
Don’t stand for it
Appliances left on stand-by rather than being switched off at the plug still use electricity – and a surprising amount of it. Most televisions, DVD players, computers and stereos are consuming energy unless they are switched off at the plug. This is one of the most effective ways of reducing energy, so get into the habit of turning everything off at the wall before bed, or before going out for the day.
Turn your thermostat down
A small change in temperature can generate big energy savings. Turning the thermostat down by just 2°C could reduce heating bills by a fifth, which translates into an average saving of about £100 a year. Set your programmer so that hot water and heating only come on at specific times, rather than leaving them on permanently.
Use energy saving light bulbs
These are more expensive than normal light bulbs, but the initial cost is soon offset by the long-term savings. Energy saving light bulbs last ten times longer than ordinary bulbs, and using one can save about £45 over the lifetime of the bulb.
Replace your central heating boiler
Do your bit for the environment while saving money by installing a more efficient boiler. As thousands of homes in Scotland have boilers with an efficiency of less that 70 per cent, the Scottish Government introduced the boiler scrappage scheme, which offers a voucher worth £400 towards the cost of upgrading with an Energy Saving Trust Recommended boiler.