How to reduce energy bills
Energy can be one of the biggest annual costs households face so finding a way to save money on bills is a huge help for many families. In this guide, we will share the best ways to reduce energy bills and tell you why your bill might be so high.
Follow our tips to save hundreds of pounds on your annual energy bills. Most of these steps are so quick and simple to follow that you’ll be saving more money on energy than you ever have before!
How much energy does the average UK household use?
The industry regulator Ofgem has revealed that the average UK household spends around £1,254 a year on gas and electricity bills. It’s easy to see how energy bills can be one of our biggest expenses. Which is why so many people are looking to save money on energy!
How to reduce gas and electricity bills
Are you getting frustrated with how much money you are spending on gas and electricity every single month? You aren’t alone. Households spend thousands on energy bills every year.
There are countless ways you can reduce your energy bills. Most are very simple steps but make a huge difference to your energy use in the long run.
1. Switch energy suppliers
Comparing and switching energy suppliers can be one of the easiest ways to save money on your bill. If you haven’t switched suppliers and haven’t changed tariffs, you are likely on a standard tariff. Standard tariffs are the default and are much more expensive than other tariffs on offer.
According to energy regulator Ofgem, 11 million households are on a standard tariff and could save £300 a year by switching suppliers. If you are paying anything over £1,000 a year on energy you should consider getting quotes from other suppliers.
For more information read our guide on switching energy suppliers.
2. Understand your energy bill
Understanding how to read your energy bill and what it means is a great way to save money. Check your bill every month or quarter. This way, you can keep an eye on whether you are being overcharged and what type of tariff you are on.
You can also find all sorts of helpful information on your bill, including any possible cheaper tariffs.
For more information, read our guide on understanding your energy bill.
3. Take regular meter readings
If you regularly supply your energy provider with meter readings, then you will only ever be paying for energy you have used. Many people don’t take their own meter readings and the supplier doesn’t take them regularly either. This means that your bill is estimated each month.
If you see the word ‘estimate’ on your bill, then you could be overpaying. Always take a meter reading and compare it to your bill. If you have used less energy, get in touch with your supplier and they will revise the bill for you.
Monitoring your energy usage is also a great way to cut back. Smart meters are a way to monitor your energy use.
4. Pay online or with direct debit
If you are paying for your energy by cash or cheque, you could be in for even more savings! Energy suppliers offer discounts for paying online and by direct debit. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said that paying by direct debit could save you as much as £90 on gas and £66 on electricity.
Energy suppliers also offer discounts if you opt for paperless billing and receive your bills online instead.
5. Turn off appliances on standby
Whilst having appliances on standby won’t cost you hundreds, if you turn off all appliances you aren’t using, you could save around £30 a year.
The main standby culprit is the TV. Many people put their TV on standby and don’t turn it off. Save money and switch it off!
You can even invest in a standby wall timer that will switch everything off in one go - saving you time and money!
6. Buy energy-efficient appliances
Old appliances tend to use more energy than new, efficient appliances. You will often see washing machines advertised with an A +++ energy rating, for example. This is the appliance’s energy efficiency rating.
Don’t throw away your washing machine to buy a more efficient one if it’s still working fine. However, when the time comes to replace any of your appliances, make sure you pick an energy-efficient replacement.
7. Install a new boiler
More than half of what you spend on your energy each year goes towards heating. So, replacing your old inefficient boiler can save you a lot of money.
For example, if you replace your old D-rated boiler with a new A+ one, you could cut your bills by around £300 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Condensing combi-boilers tend to be the most energy-efficient.
However, only replace your boiler if you can afford to. New boilers can cost thousands of pounds and whilst it will save you money in the long run, it can be a large expense, to begin with.
8. Turn down your thermostat
The Energy Saving Trust says that turning down your thermostat by just 1ºC could cut heating bills by up to £75 a year. Yes, you did read that right!
If you catch yourself walking around in a t-shirt with your heating set to 25ºC, throw on a jumper and turn it down a few degrees.
Don’t get too frugal though, as homes colder than 16ºC aren’t recommended by the World Health Organisation. If your home is damp and cold you could suffer health consequences.
So, only turn down the thermostat by one or two degrees, it doesn’t need to be drastic to make significant savings.
9. Use a Timer & Turn Off Unused Rooms
Whilst turning your thermostat down is a great way to save money, there are other ways you can save heating bills.
- Time your heating - set your heating to come on in the morning and evening. You don’t need heating when you’re asleep or at work as it’s just a waste of energy.
- Don’t heat every room the same - living rooms and bathrooms need to be warm. However, kitchens and bedrooms, not so much. You can use the radiator valves to turn off the heat in certain rooms, saving money on unnecessary heat.
10. Invest in double glazing
Double glazed windows insulate your home from old and help to keep the heat in. As a result, you won’t have to have your thermostat so high and so will save money on heating.
Another bonus is that double glazing keeps outside noise out so you’ll have a better night's sleep too!
11. Insulate the roof
Insulating your loft can reduce your energy bills as heat rises and escapes via the roof. It can cost hundreds of pounds to have a professional install it for you but you could save around £100 a year because of it.
If you already have loft insulation, you can still top it up to increase the depth and effectiveness.
12. Draught-proof your property
Cold draughts can increase the energy required to keep your home warm, making your bills more expensive. Draught-proofing your property can be very quick, easy and cheap to do.
Draught excluders or draught-proofing kits can be used to solve the following problems:
- Windows - draught-proofing strips can be used around the window frame to prevent cold air leaking through.
- Doors - draught-proofing strips are great for the edges of doors and draught-excluders on the bottom of doors.
- Fireplaces - if you don’t use your fireplace, you can put a pillow to block the chimney and stop draughts.
- Floorboards - you can use a filler for the gaps in your floorboards. However, use a silicone-based filler so the floorboards can still move.
- Loft hatches - use a draught-proofing kit to prevent warmth escaping through your loft hatch.
13. Fit a water-efficient showerhead
Water heating can contribute a huge amount to your energy bill. If your shower takes hot water straight from the boiler or tank the Energy Saving Trust recommends that you fit a water-efficient showerhead.
These showerheads mix the water with air which reduces the amount of hot water required.
The Energy Saving Trust says that a household could save £75 a year on energy thanks to a more efficient showerhead.
14. Turn off the lights
Replacing old light bulbs with LED energy-saving bulbs can knock £55 off your energy bill a year as these bulbs last ten times longer. According to Energy Saving Trust, each regular bulb you replace could save you around £120 over its lifetime.
Another way to save money is to cut the bad habit of leaving lights on when you are out of the house. Something as simple as turning off the lights whenever you leave the house could save you up to £10 a year.
15. Close the curtains
When it gets dark at night, close the curtains and blinds. This prevents heat from escaping and keeps the warmth in on those cold winter evenings.
As a result, you won’t have to use your heating as much in the evening.
16. Take advantage of free kit
The government offers a variety of home-energy grants. However, not everyone will be eligible for a free energy-saving kit.. Some of these are listed below.
- Free insulation - the UK’s Energy Company Obligations (ECO) scheme requires energy suppliers to help those with lower income save money on energy. This scheme gives free loft insulation to those who are eligible.
- Loans for energy-saving products - The Green Deal is another government programme. It allows you to borrow money for things like boilers, insulation and double glazing.
- Free solar panels - if you have large roof space, you might be able to get free solar panels. Solar panels can cut your energy bills by about a third a year.
17. Ask to your landlord to carry out energy-efficient home improvements
It can be frustrating to save money on energy bills when you’re renting, as you might not be able to make any major changes to your property. However, tenants do have the right to ask landlords to carry out energy-efficient home improvements.
Your landlord has to consider this request. However, you might not want to pay to improve someone else’s home. So, before you rent a property for the first time, key things to check are the age of the boiler, double glazing etc.
18. Make conserving energy your habit
The best way to save money on your energy bills is to make it a habit. If you change your approach to using gas and electricity, you could see significant savings down the road. Here are some simple ways to make saving energy a habit:
- Hang up your clothes to dry outside in nice weather to save using a dryer.
- Wash clothes at a cooler temperature.
- Don’t wash small batches of clothes, try to wait until your washing machine is full to avoid too many washes.
- Only use your dishwasher once it’s full.
- Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room.
- Shower instead of bathing to use less hot water.
- Put a timer on your central heating system so water is heated when you need it.
- Put lids on pots when cooking to heat food quicker.
- Wear socks, jumpers and slippers around the house so you won’t need the heating on so high.
- Turn the tap off when you're brushing your teeth or washing your face.
Why are my energy bills higher than usual?
If you notice that your energy bill is a lot higher than it normally is, then it could be due to several reasons.
Here are some key things to look at:
1. Is it an estimated energy bill?
If your energy bill appears to be higher than normal, the first thing to check is whether you’ve received an estimated bill. It will be marked on your latest energy bill with the word ‘estimate’ or ‘e’ if this is the case.
Estimated bills mean that you haven’t provided a meter reading and your supplier hasn’t taken one either. You can take your own meter readings and send them back to your supplier. You will then be sent a new bill with the revised amount on it.
Find out more information in our guide on understanding energy bills.
2. Has anything changed?
If your meter reading matches up with the number on your bill but it’s still higher than usual, think about whether something’s changed since your last bill.
For example, is the weather colder? Have you bought any new appliances? Have you been spending more time at home?
Whilst they might sound small, these things can impact the cost of your energy bill.
3. Has your plan ended?
A rise in your energy bill could mean that your fixed-price plan has come to an end. Fixed price plans guarantee the rate you are paying per kWh for a period of time.
Once this plan comes to an end you are reverted to your supplier’s standard tariff which tends to be the most expensive.
Now is the time to compare suppliers and find the cheapest tariff for you before switching.
4. The bill is correct and you’ve checked the above…
Don’t panic if your bill is higher and it’s not because of any of the previous points. If you follow all of the energy-saving tips in this guide, you could save hundreds on your bill every year.