Changing energy supplier is easier than you might think, and well worth the effort when you realise it could knock hundreds of pounds off your bill. It doesn’t matter if you don’t own your home – as long as you pay for your own gas and electricity, you should still be able to switch. “If your landlord pays for your energy, they have the right to choose the supplier. Some tenancy agreements may have clauses about switching, but if you pay for your energy, you should be able to decide who to get gas or electricity from,” says The Money Advice Service. “If you have a prepayment meter you should be able to switch too, even if your accounts have negative balances of up to £500 for electricity and £500 for gas. If you’re not on a prepayment meter, you’ll need to pay the balance before switching.” Official advice from Ofgem on switching suppliers can be found here.
Pay By Direct Debit
One of the quickest and easiest ways to claw back some of the cash on your energy bills is to see whether your supplier offers a discount for switching your payments to direct debit. Advice from consumer platform Which, explains: “Paying your energy bill through direct debit means you spread your energy costs over the year, and avoid big shock winter bills. Providing your energy supplier with regular meter readings will keep your bill as accurate as possible. This helps to avoid building up a big credit or debit balance.” For more information, click here.
Get A New Boiler
It’s pretty staggering to realise more than half of what you spend on energy in a year goes on heating. For that reason, you might find replacing an old, inefficient boiler with a modern energy-efficient one will make a big difference to your bill. In fact, a study conducted by Which found that upgrading an old G-rated gas boiler with a new A-rated condensing model could save billpayers over £650 a year. That said, it’s important to get your timing right. New boilers – especially the most efficient, condensing models – aren’t cheap (costing between £1,200 and £3,500 on average), so only look into this once your existing boiler is beyond economic repair. Finally, if you’re happy with your boiler be careful to adjust the settings only to times when the heating is really needed, and check all radiators are working properly to get the most for your money.
Insulate Your Walls
It’s been estimated that properly insulating your loft and cavity walls could save you as much as £300 a year on your energy bill. Even if you’ve already had some loft insulation work, you could save extra by topping it up, while solid wall insulation – a tad more expensive to install – could reap you the same sort of savings. The good news is, if the job’s done right it can last up to 40 years, saving not just money but also helping your impact on the environment, too. Finally, if your loft is already in order, consider other home improvements such as switching to double glazing. Again, the upfront cost might be a lot to swallow, but the long-term savings will be worth it.
Make Eco-Friendly Swaps
Aside from upgrading your appliances or insulting your walls, there are a number of small swaps or steps you can take to ensure your home is more energy efficient. Turning down your thermostat by just 1°C could cut as much as 10% off your heating bill, as could turning off the lights every time you leave a room. When filling up the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher, try only to put on a full load, and wash your clothes at 30°C. Don’t boil more water than you need and use energy-saving light bulbs. Not only do they last up to ten times longer, they don’t cost much more, and experts estimate it could save you around £50 over the lifetime of each bulb. Finally, don’t leave appliances on standby or laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily and ensure taps are turned off properly. According to Ofgem, in a single week, a dripping hot tap can waste enough hot water to fill half a bath.
Look Into Grants & Benefits
If you like the sound of big savings, but home improvements are beyond your budget, it might be worth investigating some of the schemes offered by the government to help homeowners improve their energy efficiency. In England, Wales and Scotland, the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) and the Green Deal both exist to reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty by offering a range of advice and local government grants to fund improvements. For those living in Scotland and Wales, check Nest for similar schemes or the Home Energy Efficiency Programme Scotland.
For more information on saving money on energy bills visit Ofgem.gov.uk