Fed up with energy firms hiking prices? Then fight back by taking steps to save money on energy bills around the home.
The energy giants are at it again, hiking prices for customers across the UK. Earlier this month British Gas announced a 5.5% rise that could cost households an extra £60 per year.
This move was swiftly followed by EDF Energy announcing a 2.7% price rise to kick in on 6 June, adding about £16 to the average annual bill. Just a few weeks previously, Eon announced it was scrapping the discount on some deals, adding about £22 a year to bills.
And with more of the ‘big six’ providers expected to follow suit, this latest round of hikes should serve as a reminder of just how important it is to save energy – and save money.
The good news is that as well as switching to a cheaper supplier – which can save you up to £491, and you can do now with our partners, uSwitch – there are plenty of other simple steps you can take to save money on your energy bills.
From the sensible to the extreme, here we’ve compiled a long list of 58 different things you can do to save energy.
We're not suggesting you adopt them all, but it might lead to some inspiration for better energy-saving habits.
Use a timer to make sure you aren't wasting energy when you're not at home
1. Switch off the lights. The Energy Saving Trust reckons this could save you £15 a year.
2. Remove bulbs from modern light fittings. If your light fittings have five or six bulbs remove one or two if they are surplus to requirement.
3. Cover floors. Better insulation will mean your house stays warmer – so you spend less on trying to heat it up. If you can’t afford plush carpets, use thick rugs on wooden floors instead.
4. Draught-proof windows and doors. Hang heavy curtains and blinds, and get draught excluders for your doors. Old towels will also do a good job.
5. Close the curtains. In the colder months, close the curtains as it starts to get dark to help keep the heat in. Make sure they are not covering radiators as this will stop your heating working efficiently.
6. Shut the windows in the winter. This may sound blindingly obvious, but there’s no point paying for heating if you are letting all the hot air escape.
7. Draught-proof around your front door. Put a sealant around the door, and a brush behind the letterbox.
8. Insulate pipes. Insulating pipes that are exposed within a house could save around £10 a year. DIY insulating foam pipe jackets can be bought and cut to size for just a few pounds per metre.
9. Wrap up your water tank. If you have a hot water tank, pick up a jacket to help reduce heat loss. You can buy them for less than £10 and it will help you save heat and money.
10. Get clever with cling film. Stretch cling film or bubble wrap over the inside of windows to trap air and stop draughts.
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11. Turn down your thermostat. Nudging your thermostat down by just one degree can noticeably cut your annual energy bill, according to the Energy Saving Trust. The optimum temperature is around 20 degrees. The rule of thumb is that for every degree you turn your thermostat down you save around £50.
12. Make use of radiator valves. These allow you to control the temperature of each room independently, so you don’t heat spaces you rarely use.
13. Don’t heat the whole house unnecessarily. If bedrooms are not in use during the day, close the doors and put a thermal curtain at the bottom of the stairs. You can then open the curtain – and bedroom doors – an hour before you want to go to bed.
14. Move furniture away from radiators. By leaving radiators clear, you can help bring more warmth into a room. Also, remember to bleed radiators to keep them working efficiently.
15. Invest in silver foil. By placing silver foil down the back of radiators, you can help reflect heat back into the room – so it doesn’t escape through the walls. This helps the radiators warm the room more effectively.
16. Use the timer. Set your timer so your central heating comes on for a few hours in the morning, and again when you’re home from work in the evenings. Don’t waste money by keeping the heating on all day long when no-one’s at home.
17. Install chimney balloons or ‘chimney sheep’. These devices stop cold draughts coming down the chimney. Just remember they are there before you light your next fire!
18. Don’t leave appliances on standby. While it’s all-too-easy to leave devices on standby, this means they are quietly draining energy. Get into the habit of turning off TVs, games consoles and other items at the wall. You could save yourself £30 a year in the process. (But note that digital TV or satellite recorders may need to be kept in standby mode to function).
19. Unplug your phone. Don’t leave your mobile plugged in once it’s fully charged. This just wastes energy.
20. Banish the bath. Take a shower, rather than a bath. Showers use a lot less water and are more energy efficient.
21. Take a shorter shower. Spend just one minute less in the shower, and you could cut £10 off your energy bill each year.
22. Turn the shower temperature down. In the summer months, try turning the temperature of your shower down a few degrees, even for the last few minutes. This could turn into some real savings – and can invigorate you too.
23. Have a ‘navy’ shower. Better still, once you’re wet, turn the water off while you soap and wash, and then switch it back on again when you’re ready to rinse.
24. Don’t leave the tap running when washing up. Get into the habit of filling the sink up with hot suds instead. This will save your both water and energy.
25. Make sure the dishwasher is full before you use it. The same applies to your washing machine. This way, you are being far more energy efficient.
26. Wash clothes at a lower temperature. Setting the washing machine to 30 degrees – rather than a higher temperature – will save around £6 a year on your energy bills.
27. Dry clothes outside, rather than in the tumble dryer. Dryers have big motors to spin the clothes and use a lot of energy, so hang clothes outside when you can. This could save you around £30 per year.
28. De-fluff your dryer. If you do use your dryer, be sure to clean the lint filter after every few uses. This will help it run more efficiently, helping to save energy.
29. Don’t dry clothes on radiators. This means the boiler must work harder to reach the desired room temperature and use more energy.
30. Only fill the kettle with the water you need. Try heating just the right amount of water for your cuppa. You could snip £7 off your energy bills.
Don't forget to move turn the light out when you leave a room
31. Don’t open the oven door while you’re using it. If you do this, the expensive hot air inside will escape. Peep through the door instead.
32. Leave the oven door open. Don’t shut the over door as soon as you’ve finished cooking or baking. Leave it open so the surplus heat can transfer to the rest of your home.
33. Make use of your microwave. If you’re only cooking for yourself – or for you and one or two others – don’t waste energy by switching on your big oven. A microwave is far more efficient.
34. Use pan lids. Put lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking times.
35. Avoid the extractor fan. Rather than spend money on electricity to power the extractor fan, just open a window instead.
36. Avoid the air con. Open a window instead of clicking on the air conditioning. As air con devices guzzle a lot of energy, this can translate into some big savings on your bills.
37. Be fridge frugal. Ensure your fridge is working efficiently by placing it away from your cooker and direct sunlight – and not overfilling it. You should always keep your fridge away from heaters and keep the back clear.
38. Defrost food in the fridge. If you’re defrosting a loaf of bread or a dessert, do this in the fridge, as the frozen food will help keep the fridge cooler.
39. Fill up your freezer. Freezers function most efficiently when they are around two-thirds full, so if yours is often empty, add some jugs or bottles of water to it. In the summer, this is a good excuse to store a lot of lollies and ice creams.
40. Repair fridge seals. If the fridge door no longer shuts properly, it will need to work harder to stay cold – using more energy in the process. Mend it.
Lightbulb moment: using energy-efficient bulbs could save you a packet
41. Swap old, inefficient lightbulbs for modern LED bulbs. These cost between £4 and £10 and can save the average home £35 per year. In addition, they last around 10-20 times longer so you won’t have to replace them anywhere near as often.
42. Switch lights off when you leave a room. This is one of the things parents will find they are forever saying to their children. But it is worth it – and especially if you’ve not made the switch to LED lights yet.
43. Draught-proofing windows and doors. This will cost around £200 if you use a professional installer. But you can do it yourself for a fraction of the price. This could mean savings of around £25 per year.
44. Invest in cavity wall insulation. This will help minimise heat loss through the walls of your home. It could set you back around £480 for a typical three-bed semi, but will pay off over time as it could save you around £150 per year. Some households might even be eligible for free insulation, so it’s worth checking with your energy company or switching to one that provides this option.
45. Insulate your loft. This will prevent heat escaping through the ceilings of your new home. It costs around £300 for a first installation for a typical three-bed semi, but could save you around £135 per year. Similarly to cavity wall insulation, some households will also be eligible for free fitting.
46. Install A-rated double glazing. To do this in a single-glazed three-bed semi you could expect to pay around £4,000. You could then save around £75 per year, so it will take time to recoup the outlay, however, if your existing windows needs replacing anyway it is worth considering as an option.
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47. Invest in a new energy-efficient boiler. The older your boiler, the more inefficient it’s likely to be. Splash out on a new A-rated highly-efficient model. This could cost upwards of £2,000, but you will reap the rewards, with savings of more than £200 a year.
48. Apply for energy-saving grants. Many of the big providers offer grants for energy-saving improvements, such as loft insulation or even a new boiler. Call your supplier to see what’s on offer (though note that certain conditions may apply, such as needing to be in receipt of certain benefits). Also contact the Energy Saving Trust.
49. Get your boiler serviced. Get your boiler serviced once a year to make sure it is both safe and working efficiently. Always use a Gas Safe engineer.
50. Only buy A-rated appliances. Only purchase items which are A-rated, as these are more energy efficient. While they may cost a little more, the additional savings should mean you recoup the initial outlay.
Buy energy efficient appliances and make sure they are checked regularly
51. Get a smart meter. Government estimates suggest smart meters will mean a typical saving of £15 per year on electricity and £10 on gas.
52. Invest in ‘smart heating controls.’ Save money and energy with a device such as Nest and Hive which allows you to control your heating from wherever you are, at any time of day. Also check out gizmos such as Tado and Heat Genius.
53. Store solar power. Install solar PV (solar power electricity systems) and battery solutions to harness the power of the sun. These convert sunlight into electricity and can be used immediately while the sun is shining, or stored in an at-home battery for use after the sun has set.
54. Make the most of the sun. Keep curtains open in the daytime in the winter to maximise direct light entering the house. This will help keep it warm.
55. Wrap up warm. It sounds simple, but rather than crank up the heating, why not add an extra layer of a jumper or hoodie?
56. Get a thicker duvet for winter. Tog up to help you keep warm during the winter months, without having to crank up the heating.
57. Shower at work. It means you’re clean and fresh at your desk evyer morning after the commute - and your employer gets to foot the bill.
58. Move in with your partner. We’d recommend that cutting your energy costs isn’t the only motivating factor for this, but it’s true that it could help you save on both heating and electricity. And could also help you stay warm at night.