The price hikes announced at the end of last year by the majority of the major energy companies made for unwelcome news, even if it wasn't entirely surprising.
While customers could save money by switching their gas and electricity companies or opting for a different tariff, there are also plenty of easy, free practical steps you can take to make sure that your energy usage is kept to a minimum.
Turn items off when you’re not using them
Turning items like your TV fully off – not just on standby mode, which consumes a surprising amount of power – will make for big savings. Items like modems and routers, stereos, phone chargers, computers and games consoles are other electrical items which are well worth the small matter of shutting off at the mains overnight or whilst you’re out.
Defrost your freezer
One item which you certainly shouldn’t switch off overnight is your freezer. But regular defrosting will mean that your freezer, which uses a lot of power, will be much more energy efficient.
Change your laundry habits
Washing your clothes on a lower heat setting could save you a lot of money. Try not to wash anything over 40 degrees centigrade, preferably lower. There are plenty of washing powders and liquids which promise a good wash at lower temperatures, so why not give them a try?
Think about your heating
December 2010 was one of the coldest on record, which meant the nation collectively reached to turn the heating on. But lowering your thermostat by just a degree could save you money. Regularly bleeding your radiators to get rid of inefficiency-causing air bubbles is also a good way to curb your energy usage.
For a relatively small investment, you could make even bigger energy savings in the long term by installing energy-efficient light bulbs, insulating your loft or switching to a smart metering system.