It’s a familiarly melancholy story – another year, another predicted energy price hike. This year, current trends in companies raising their prices have led to an estimated average annual dual fuel bill of almost £1,400.
And if that weren’t bad enough, the UK’s energy regulator Ofgem has predicted a ‘looming energy crisis’ before 2020 if the country doesn’t change its energy tactics – rather scary stuff. But we can all do our bit and, if nothing else, make significant savings and making the household budget stretch even further.
1. Invest In An Energy Monitor To Track Your Usage
You might already own one of these, as many energy companies went through a spate of sending them out for free to customers, but don’t despair if not – you can get a good quality monitor online for between £20-30.
These wonderfully simple devices just plug into a plug socket anywhere in your home and tell you exactly how much you’re using (in watt hours, or kw-hours if you’re using a lot!) and roughly how much this will cost you per month. By helping you identify when you’re using a lot of electricity, and detailing how much it could cost you, consumer group Which? estimates that you could save up to £75 a year.
2. Turn Everything Down! (But Just A Bit)
Now, I now this blog promised not to compromise on comfort or your quality of living, but turning down heating or cooling appliances by a little bit will really make a noticeable impact on your bills – but you won’t notice the change in temperature.
If you’ve got a thermostat for your central heating, or an air conditioning unit for the summer months, then just knocking one degree of your usual temperature could save you as much as £40 in a year. It doesn’t sound a lot, but keeping £40 in your pocket instead of in the hands of your energy supplier for something that doesn’t compromise the comfort of your home is definitely worth doing.
3. Switch Your Energy Supplier
We’ve talked a lot about reducing your consumption but, like every other consumer commodity, you only get the best rates if you shop around. Simply changing who you pay your bill to each month or quarter can save you hundreds of pounds annually. Whether you opt for a cute little meerkat or an irritating operatic salesman, you could save anywhere up to £360 just by changing supplier – a significant saving indeed.
4. Wash At Lower Temperatures (Even 15c!)
According to the UK’s Energy Saving Trust, the average cost of running a washing machine could be up to £63 a year – but with energy prices rising, it’s only set to go up. With the wealth of effective detergents and tablets that are available for washing at lower temperatures, simply clicking your machine down from 40 degrees to 30 degrees could use 40% less electricity and make significant reductions on your energy bills.
And if your machine is a newer model, then you may the option for even cooler washing cycles – as low as 15 degrees. While these will likely require a particular product to get an effective wash, you’ll find the savings even greater.
5. Consider Investing In Efficient Home Appliances
Now, this covers a broad range of technology from the cheap right through to the bigger investments – it all depends on how much you can afford to spend, as well as how long you see yourself staying in your current home.
For example, changing your old boiler for an A-rated energy efficient model may require a bit more investment than other methods, but could cut your gas bill by up to £310 a year for the life of the device. If you’re looking for an energy efficient heating method for typically cold areas like bathrooms, conservatories and utility rooms then underfloor heating can also use less energy (and as such cost less to run) than conventional radiators.
There are a number of simple efficient appliances that can make significant impacts on your usage and, as such, your bills that really don’t have to cost the earth. An energy saving power strip, for example, turns off the power to all appliances plugged into it when the ‘master’ device is powered down. This is perfect for desktop computers, for example, and could turn off your monitor, speakers, printer and scanner when the PC itself is switched off.