The current energy crisis is causing significant disruption, and affecting the tariffs energy providers can offer. For all the most recent information, read our article on the current energy crisis and what to do about soaring costs.
Energy bills can burn a big hole in your pocket, and this winter is expected to be particularly challenging for households across the UK, thanks to sharp rises in energy bills amid soaring wholesale prices.
Usually, one of the simplest ways to cut costs is to switch energy suppliers, by shopping around and moving to a more competitive deal. However, suppliers have pulled many deals from the shelves over recent weeks as they simply cannot afford to keep offering them.
Despite this, there are simple ways to cut costs by reducing your day-to-day energy usage, and we’ve collected a few suggestions here that could help you make some savings. If you think you’re going to struggle with costs, it’s always worth talking to your supplier as soon as possible. They often have support schemes available to help the most vulnerable and households on a low income, or you may be able to negotiate a repayment plan.
1. Install a more efficient shower head
According to the Energy Saving Trust, your household could save up to £45 per year just by switching to a more water-efficient shower head. You may think that having a shower instead of a bath saves you water (and money), but this isn’t necessarily the case. The wrong shower head, such as a power shower, which uses 12+ litres of water per minute, could mean you end up using more water in a few minutes than you do when running an entire bath. Energy efficient showerheads control the rate of flow, keeping it to between six and eight litres per minute, so that you can enjoy your shower without damaging your bank balance.
Regardless of the type of shower head you have, you can still try to keep your shower time to a minimum. If you have no idea how long you’re spending in the shower, why not try setting an alarm for three or four minutes? If everyone in a four-person household cuts their shower time by just one minute, this could shave £47 per year off energy bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also help the environment by reducing the amount of energy (and therefore carbon emissions) required to pump and heat water in your home.
2. Turn your heating down
With working from home becoming the norm for more and more people, you might have gotten used to leaving the heating on for longer on cold days. However, even if you’re inside all day, it’s unlikely you’ll need to keep the heating running all the time, especially if you’re managing to keep busy.
You could also consider turning the heating down for when you do have it switched on. The World Health Organisation recommends that the ideal room temperature (for the average household) sits between 18 and 21 degrees.
Turning your heating down by just 1 degree could save you around £55 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So check your thermostat and make sure it’s not turned up any higher than 21 degrees. And if you’re feeling a bit chilly, try putting on some extra layers before you reach for the dial, to save on heating costs.
3. Hang clothes up to dry whenever possible
Hanging up your wet clothes to dry rather than using a tumble dryer is an easy way to reduce your energy consumption and could save you up to £70 per year, according to Ovo Energy.
During the winter, you can dry clothes on a clothing rack in a warm, well-ventilated room – just be sure to keep the humidity in one room by shutting the door. In the summer, it’s best to hang clothes outside on a washing line, as they’ll usually dry quicker in the sunshine.
By allowing clothes to dry naturally, you’ll also prevent shrinkage and wear caused by the heat from the tumble dryer. This will help your clothes look better for longer, so you’ll also spend less money replacing worn out items.
4. Use a washing up bowl
Rather than letting hot water trickle down the plug hole when you’re washing up, why not fill up a washing up bowl instead? They’re cheap to buy and will also stop small pieces of food waste from clogging up your sink.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that we could each save £25 per year on our gas bill and £30 on our water bill (if you have a water meter) just by using a washing up bowl rather than letting water drain away – not a bad saving for something so easy to do.
5. Switch to energy efficient bulbs
Replacing all the bulbs in your house with energy efficient ones (LEDs) will usually set you back around £145, but could save you around £30 per year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. More practical for most of us, is simply replacing old inefficient bulbs with energy efficient ones when they need to be changed. They have the same brightness as a standard bulb, but they use far less energy – in some cases up to 90%. You’ll find yourself with more money in your pocket and you’ll get the added satisfaction of knowing you’re reducing your carbon footprint.
Even if you do switch to LEDs, you should still be conscious of how many lights you turn on and always remember to turn the lights off when you leave a room. This may sound simple, but it’s easy to forget and costs can mount up over the course of a year.
6. Switch appliances off
Think about how many gadgets you currently have in your household – how many of them do you regularly shut down completely?
Most of us are guilty of leaving some of our favourite appliances on standby from time to time, especially ones we use often. Making a little bit of extra effort to switch them off properly at the set, or at the wall could save you an estimated £35 per year (Energy Saving Trust) so think about that the next time you hit standby on the TV remote.
7. Draught-proof your home
One of the easiest ways to keep your heating costs down is to make sure your home doesn’t get too cold to begin with. Getting your home draught-proofed professionally or doing it DIY could help you reduce the amount of cold air getting into your home. Sealing up the gaps in your home could lead to savings of £25 per year, and installing draught excluders in your unused chimneys could save you an additional £18, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
8. Choose your washing machine settings carefully
When it comes to washing your clothes, the settings you choose could make a big difference to your annual energy bills. Washing clothes at a cooler temperature of 30-40 degrees, for example, could reduce your electricity bill by more than £10 a year.
Cooler temperatures are also kinder on your clothes and will result in less wear and shrinkage. So not only will you save money on your electricity bills, but you’ll also be able to cut down on your clothes shopping!
9. Only fill up the kettle with as much water as you need
Lots of us boil far more water than we need to make our morning brew, meaning the kettle has to boil for far longer and use more electricity than it actually needs to.
Because kettles are used so often (everyone loves a cuppa after all), they can easily become one of the biggest offenders on your energy bill. So the next time you reach for the kettle, try to remember to fill it up only with what you need.
Alternatively, if you do happen to boil a little more water than you need, why not transfer it to a thermos flask to keep it warm for later?
10. Get help with your heating costs
If you’re struggling to heat your home this winter because you can’t afford your energy bills, it’s worth checking whether you may be eligible for some financial support from the government.
For example, If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, then you may be entitled to a tax-free Winter Fuel payment of between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills and stay warm this winter. The amount of Winter Fuel Payment that you receive will depend on how old you are and who else you live with.
If you’re not eligible for the Winter Fuel payment, you might be able to get money off your energy bills for 2021/22 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. This is a one-off discount on your electricity bill, paid directly to your energy provider on your behalf between September and March.
You may be eligible if you:
- are receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit and your electricity supplier is part of the Warm Homes Discount scheme. In this case, you should get £140 automatically deducted from your bill between September and March.
- are on a low income, already receive certain means-tested benefits and your electricity supplier is part of the Warm Homes Discount scheme. If you think you might be eligible, contact your electricity supplier in the first instance and they will be able to give you more details and confirm if you are eligible.
- are on a pre-pay or pay as you go electric meter. You will need to speak to your electricity provider to find out how to activate your deduction.
Find out more about help you might be able to claim for in our guide Are you eligible for help with heating costs?
You could also look into monitoring your usage more accurately by asking your supplier about installing a Smart Meter. These use real time data to track your usage, so you don’t have to worry about taking readings and keeping on top of your bills. This could help you to understand your usage, and take steps to reduce your bills and consumption.