Nine tips to help lower your energy bills

Image of a couple curled up in front of a log fire
Kevin was starting to think he'd been swindled when he agreed to buy a fire instead of a television...
"Changing the way you use energy around the home is something you can do without any cost." Brian Horne, Energy Saving Trust
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

As we stare longingly at our seldom-used BBQ and prepare to release our autumn coats from their vacuum-pack prison, it can be hard not to shed a tear for the summer which has flown by so fast.

But it's time to turn that frown upside down because we have some energy saving tips which could soften the blow of a return to cooler weather in the form of lower bills.

"There are two routes to using less and therefore spending less," says Brian Horne, Home energy expert at the  Energy Saving Trust.

"The first is turning things off or down, whenever you can and the second is making necessary home improvements. Changing the way you use energy around the home is something you can do without any cost. The savings might not be huge but they don't cost you anything – you've just got to remember to do them!"

So without further ado, let's get to the tips...

Switch it off

Image of a hand turning down a dial

If you're not turned on by the state of your energy bills, turning it off may be the answer. Becoming more mindful of what's switched on in your home can help you realise where most of your energy is being used.

Leaving radiators and lights on when you're not in the room could really add up, so if they're not in use, turn them off.

Caroline Lloyd, energy expert at said: "Thermostatic valves on each radiator can help by letting you keep each room at a suitable temperature depending on when and how you use that room – not all the rooms in the house have to be the same temperature all the time"

Open the door…

Image of a woman opening an oven door to glance at a pie

…The oven door that is. If it's a tad nippy in your gaff, don't switch on the central heating straight away, perhaps a warm tasty meal could be just the ticket.

After you've whipped up your gourmet treats, turn the oven off and open the door to let the warmth emanate from within. It's even better if you've just baked a fresh batch of cookies. A fish supper, however…

Shop around

Image of a light bulb

Wave adios to those monster energy bills by shopping around for a lower tariff.

"One of the first things you should do to reduce how much you pay is to switch to the cheapest energy provider," says Horne. "But once you've made the switch you can start thinking about long-term savings by using only as much energy as you need, when you need it."

There are no rewards when it comes to brand loyalty in the energy market and it's so simple to switch. Don't forget about smaller energy suppliers, which may offer really competitive deals as well as shining customer service.

Clean up

Image of a man singing in the shower

Taking super-long showers may be a morning ritual but they can use a lot of gas and electricity. So, get a wriggle on and refrain from using your sudsy solo time to practice your singing. If you lean more towards a 10-minute shower, try soaping up a little faster and you could really see the difference in your bills.

Also, beware the power shower which may give you squeaky clean locks but uses way more water than a standard sprinkler.

Play it smart

Image of a smart meter

Image by: Miss Efficiency via Flickr

These little gadgets will show you exactly how much gas and electricity you've used and what it'll cost, which could give you the kick in the tuchus you need to be more energy savvy. Use them to give accurate readings to your supplier, so your bills aren't over or underestimated too.

You can even get smart room thermostats and energy monitors that let you control when your heating comes on via your smartphone. Welcome to the future!

"Even if you haven't got a smart meter or energy monitor, regularly reading your meter and submitting readings can reduce the reliance on estimated bills" says Lloyd. "This can help you keep control of what you're spending on your energy bills."

Some like it hot

Image of a man reaching into a washing machine

If you have a tendency to whack your washing machine on the highest setting, you could be throwing money down the drain. By reducing the temperature to a moderate 30-40°C your clothes will be thoroughly clean and your bank account won't be rinsed out.

Of course, you still might want to wash some items on a hot wash, especially towels and bed sheets which tend to harbour more germs.

Leave the tumble dryer alone

Image of a washing line with clothes

Yes, your clothes may be nice and toasty when they come out of the tumble dryer giving you a warm hug as you slip them on, but that fuzzy feeling comes at a cost. These handy appliances are more expensive to run than a washing machine, so try to dry your clothes on a line.

Or you can start them off in the tumble dryer and pop them on a clothes rack. You won't have to iron them as much, either.

Take it for granted

Image of a room with insulation exposed

Image by: Jesus Rodriguez via Flickr

The government offers a number of grants to help keep your heat where it belongs, inside your home.

This could even be in the form of free cavity wall or loft insulation, so find out if you're entitled.

Curtain call

Image of a spacious room with thick curtains

"Seemingly small changes can make quite a difference to how well you can keep the heat you've paid for firmly within your house, helping to keep bills from being chilling," says Lloyd.

Draught excluders are handy for keeping the chill from blowing under your doors and windows. Also, a thermal curtain can help stop heat from escaping the room.

Consider rearranging your rooms. As well as boosting your feng shui it could trap the warmth. Move your furniture away from the radiators to let hot air flow freely around the room.

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