As the festive season hits top gear, people up and down the country are preparing to spend a little more than usual. The typical household spends £800 more than the monthly average during the holidays. All that extra spending has already got many homeowners thinking about ways to save money in the new year.
In 2018, average annual energy bills increased by £65 in UK households. Energy is an expensive outlay for homeowners, which is why saving a pretty penny wherever possible is always welcomed news. There are also environmental benefits to consuming less energy, with energy saving technology making this easier to achieve.
Smart meters help you keep an eye on costs and consumption. But there’s more that can be done if you want to save energy and knock a few pounds off your bill.
We’ve put together a list of top energy saving tips to add to your own new year’s list, with each one designed to help keep the bills down and consume less energy around the home. Some of them are incremental but easy to implement; others have upfront costs but offer long-term savings.
Read on and discover our top energy saving tips for homeowners. Plus, understand how you pay for energy bills and what the future of energy could mean for your home.
How do you pay for energy bills?
The majority of suppliers offer several methods for paying your bill. However, sometimes it can be confusing knowing which energy tariff or plan to choose. Here is a breakdown of the most common ways to pay for your energy usage.
- Fixed monthly direct debit – Typically the cheapest way to pay for your bill, a monthly direct debit is an agreed amount paid each month, often over 12 months. Use less energy in this period, and you will build a credit balance. Use more energy, however, and the extra amount will be due at the end of the contract.
- Variable monthly direct debit – you only pay for what you use each month with a variable direct debit, and you need to submit a monthly meter reading so the energy company can keep track of your usage.
- Quarterly direct debit – instead of paying monthly, quarterly direct debits see you charged every three months. This means the amount you pay in one go is higher, as it accounts for three months’ worth of energy use at a time.
- Prompt pay – using prompt pay means paying for your energy on receipt of your bill and receiving a discount if paid within a set amount of days. Discounts can be as large as 6%.
- Prepayment meter – a prepayment meter is often the most expensive way to pay for energy, but can also be the best option if you struggle to keep on top of monthly bills. Much like a pay-as-you-go mobile sim, a prepayment meter lets you top it up with credit, which is then used for energy around your home. When it runs out, you need to top it up again.
If you’re not happy with your current supplier, or want to explore moving to another one, there are ways to find a better deal. Switching energy suppliers can help you save!
Home energy saving tips you can implement right now
1.Spend less time in the shower
Sometimes standing having a refreshing power shower is the perfect tonic to start the day and make sure you’re ready for the world. But spending just one minute less in the shower can save up to £60 a year on energy bills for a family of four.
2.Turn down your thermostat
Heating and hot water account for more than half the money spent on bills. Having a thermostat can help you take control of the temperature in your room and save on bills in the process. In fact, turning it down by just one degree could save up to 10% on your yearly energy bills.
3.Use LED light bulbs
LED light bulbs are much more energy efficient than traditional incandescent light bulbs, which means you can save electricity and on your bills in the long term. They are slightly more expensive than incandescent light bulbs when it comes to upfront cost. But the amount you spend can be recouped in just a few months, thanks to their energy efficiency.
4.Turn your standby off
We all love hitting that standby button after binge-watching our favourite Netflix show. However, failing to properly turn your TV off will result in higher energy bills. By switching your TV – and other electricals – off at the plug, you can minimise your bills and enjoy living in a more energy efficient home
5.Install double or triple glazing
When it comes to energy saving tips, this suggestion errs on the expensive side, but the long-term gain of installing double or triple glazing outweighs the short-term expense. As well as keeping your home generally warmer, adding extra glazing means you won’t need the heating on as much during the winter months. The result will be lower energy bills.
6.Turn off the lights
The lights are on but nobody’s home, and it’s costing a jaw-dropping £4.4bn pounds extra a year for UK households. Making a change as simple as switching the lights off when you’re not in the room will save you money on your energy bills while also reducing overall light pollution.
7.Insulate your home
A large amount of heat is lost through walls, which is why insulating them is a great energy saving tip for your home. Cavity wall insulation can save up to £140 a year on heating bills – and it only takes five years to pay off the initial insulation cost.
8.Use a microwave
The next time you heat up last night’s dinner, use the microwave instead of the oven. A microwave heats up food far quicker, meaning it consumes less energy than an oven – which typically takes 15 minutes just to heat itself up.
9.Replace the boiler
Using a boiler equates to roughly 60% of yearly energy bills. By upgrading to an A-rated, high-efficiency condensing boiler, you can save money and see a substantial difference of around £300 off your annual energy costs.
10.Don’t charge your phone overnight
Most of us charge our phones when we go to bed, giving it around eight hours to get back to 100%. However, mobile phones take an average of just two hours to fully charge, which means they’re costing unnecessary money for the other six. Try charging your phone a couple of hours before you go to sleep, rather than leaving it charging throughout the night.
11.Decrease the temp of your washing machine
Sometimes the best energy saving tips are the easiest ones. With better bio washing powders available, the need to wash your clothes on a high temperature has reduced greatly. Keep your washing machine temperature to the lowest settings, and reap the benefits with cheaper energy bills.
12.Get rid of the draught
It’s not just the walls that lose heat; small gaps in the doors, windows, floors and even the chimney also act as an escape route for heat. Getting your home professionally draught-proofed saves around £55 per year on bills and keeps it much warmer too.
13.Fix any dripping taps
Dripping taps are one of the primary sources for water waste. Not only is the dripping sound annoying; it can also increase your yearly energy bills. That’s why fixing any leaky taps is a good idea for reducing constant drip sounds as well as the cost of your energy bills.
14.Close the blinds
The summers are getting hotter, and more Brits are turning to air conditioning units to battle against hot and sweaty conditions around the home. However, air conditioning is expensive, with the strongest ones costing £48p per hour to run. While it might be hard to go a whole summer without AC, try closing the blinds on the sunny side of the house every now and then as an alternative. Doing so will keep your home cooler and your energy bills lower.
15.Different ways to dry your clothes
It’s tempting to leave your clothes on a hot radiator so they dry faster. But doing so means your boiler needs to work harder, as the clothes block heat from circulating the room. Try drying them on a rack, far enough away from the radiator so that your home still heats up efficiently.
16.Savvy kitchen use
Being smarter with your kitchen appliances can save around £36 a year in energy bills. Small changes like using a bowl to wash up instead of leaving the tap running, limiting washing machine use to one cycle per week and only filling the kettle with the amount you need are all helpful ways to consume less energy.
17.Keep curtains and blinds closed at night
Keeping your curtains and blinds closed at night stops cold air entering your home – especially in the chillier months. Go one step further and add thick curtain linings to stop heat from escaping and making your home feel warmer without needing to crank up the heating.
Energy saving technology
While an Energy Performance Certificate can give a good indication of how much energy your home consumes, technology is opening up new ways to help us understand and control energy around the home.
Smart technology is having an impact in so many aspects of our lives, and it’s proving to be handy around the home too. A smart meter will help you understand energy use while also allowing you to control the heating when you’re out and about. This is particularly helpful if you accidently left the heating on after leaving the house.
We’ve already mentioned turning down the thermostat as a way to save a few pennies on your energy bill, but you could take it one step further with a smart thermostat. Using one will allow you to track your gas usage and make adjustments accordingly.
While smart meters and thermostats are a start, an increasing number of homes are becoming smart, allowing homeowners to be more efficient with how they use energy. It’s now possible to control lighting and heating for the entire house from your mobile phones or a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Apple’s Siri. As homes become more integrated, switching appliances on and off around the house will become much easier.
What does the future of UK energy look like in the UK?
As technology improves so too will our energy bills. It’s never easy painting an entirely accurate picture of how the future will look, but there are some trends that provide an indication of how we’ll use energy in our homes in the coming years.
21st century insulation
Insulation is about to get a makeover, which makes sense as it’s one of the best ways to reduce energy saving costs. The Industrial Science and Technology Network, based in the United States, is working on a new foam insulation which is designed from environmentally and advanced composite materials. This new design will ensure that heat can’t escape from areas like the attic and the walls.
Ultra efficient heat pumps
Expect heat pump systems that warm and cool your home by moving heat from one area to another. Other types of heat pumps will be able to reduce energy by up to 30% and use ultra low-emission combustion burners to keep your home warm.
Carbon efficient tumble dryers
Tumble drying clothes is one of the most costly ways to use energy around the home. Things could be about to change, however, with a carbon-fighting clothes tumble dryer. A new type of dryer is in development, and it uses a heat pump cycle to generate hot air. This will lead to efficient dryers that lower energy consumption by an impressive 60%.
Energy saving guide – tips that make a difference
We’re not quite ready for the future, but £30 here and £12 there off your annual bill will make a huge difference in the present. Most of our energy saving tips don’t require you to make sweeping changes either – just a few small tweaks around the home.
Start the new year in [money-saving] style, and you could save hundreds of pounds a year on your energy bills while being more energy efficient. It’s a win-win.