How to reduce your energy bill by making these small changes
UK households are facing soaring energy bills as a supply shortage has driven electricity prices up, but they can take action to cut costs in the looming gloomy winter.
Traditionally, the solution to rising gas and electricity prices has been for customers to seek a better deal from a plethora of suppliers. But as the energy crisis crumbles small suppliers and those left behind to pull their best deals, households will have to resort to various tactics to lower their bills.
Reducing the energy you use, using it at the right time, or producing it yourself will become important as gas and electricity prices rise. A few small changes in your home could be the key to getting through a winter of rising energy bills.
Here are some of the steps you can take, how much you could save, and the pitfalls to avoid.
Consider a smart meter
Smart meters track how much energy you use in your home on a daily basis, giving much more accurate readings than traditional analog meters, which run from a monthly estimate. Readings are sent automatically to suppliers, meaning customers are less likely to underpay or overpay for gas and electricity.
They can also save you money. Some energy providers offer tariffs exclusively for smart meter users, which vary the cost of electricity throughout the day. Customers can then adjust their energy consumption, using the devices more when electricity prices are lower.
However, the devices have proven to be controversial. Some people are uncomfortable with tracking their energy use and wonder how much money meters are actually saving as bills have gone up to pay for the deployment of smart meters.
The devices themselves were also prone to problems. First generation meters can lose functionality when a customer changes providers, rendering devices unusable.
Energy companies are adamant that only they can see your data and that information cannot be passed on to a third party without your explicit permission. Although smart meters send readings to your energy supplier, they do not store your name, address, or bank details.
Improve your insulation
Modifications to your home to improve its heat retention could cut your energy bill by hundreds of pounds this winter.
According to My Utility Genius, a comparison site, about 35% of the heat in an average semi-detached home is lost through its walls. Properly installed cavity wall insulation can save up to 15 pc on heating costs.
Houses built before the 1920s are more likely to have solid walls. These are more difficult and expensive to isolate, but it can lead to greater savings. My Utility Genius said installing this type of insulation could reduce the average energy bill by up to Â£ 350 per year.
In an uninsulated house, almost a quarter of the heat is lost through the roof. Insulating the attic or roof could save up to Â£ 175 on the average bill, according to the comparison site.
Insulated floors, by filling in gaps under baseboards, can reduce heat loss by up to 10%, reducing the typical energy bill by Â£ 60.
Should we switch to a heat pump?
The government wants to replace gas boilers with green alternatives, such as air source heat pumps, in the years to come. These are expensive to install, between Â£ 7,000 and Â£ 14,000 compared to Â£ 1,000 for a traditional gas boiler, but can reduce energy costs in the long run.
Households switching from an old liquefied petroleum gas – or LPG – boiler to a heat pump would realize the greatest savings. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the energy bill for a four-bedroom detached house would drop by Â£ 1,250 per year after the change.
However, the savings will vary depending on the age and style of the existing household boiler. Although heat pumps are four times more efficient than traditional boilers, they are generally supplied with electricity, which is much more expensive than gas or oil.