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It’s pretty worrying right now. Next month gas and electricity prices will soar to an average of £2,500 annually. All off the back of that price hike in April … and with the threat of more to come.

It’s a 26% increase, at a time of rising petrol prices, food bills and inflation as a whole.

By rethinking how we use energy in our homes we can reduce some of the impact of increasing energy bills. It won’t negate it all, but it will help. It will also reduce the amount of carbon we emit from our homes, and our impact on the planet. There is also a host of support out there which we can access.

There’s no easy fix to this, but there are some ways we can try and reduce the burden.

Which is what this all comes back to really. The fossil fuel industry and its stranglehold on consumers and the planet. The glaring evidence that we could do with adopting a new approach to energy; how we create it and how we use it.

In April we brought together expert advice with tips on lowering energy use and switching to a greener supplier (if you can – we know it’s tricky right now), and how we can support each other. We’ve updated it to take into account the latest news … starting with how we can support each other:

Supporting our local community:

With energy prices increasing, millions of people around the UK will struggle to find the money for light, cooking and heating. Here’s a few ways to support yourself or others in the community who may be struggling with rising costs:

  • Have a cuppa with a neighbour to check how they’re doing. If they’re worried about rising energy costs you signpost them to the support they need (links below)
  • Support calls in the community for Warm Spaces. Can your street come up with something to support each other? Some UK councils like Gateshead and Bristol are already doing this. If you want to see it in Penzance – contact your local councillor
  • Check out support available from the government here
  • Get help if you can’t afford bills here

You could also:

  • pass on this blog and its links and tips
  • share Cornwall Council’s Winter Wellbeing page with tonnes of links and support
  • check out Cornwall’s Community Energy Plus (or a similar local service). Its freephone line 0800 954 1956 can advise on reducing energy bills, grants to replace boiler and night storage heater replacements,
  • contact Citizens Advice (and pass on their contact details), which has information on grants and benefits to help pay energy bills,
  • run a community get together where people can share tips and information, while having an open conversation about rising energy use and bills.

If you’re in a position to, you could donate to the Community Energy Plus’s Cold Homes Relief Fund which supports vulnerable households in Cornwall experiencing fuel poverty through measures like providing emergency electric and gas key meter top-ups.

Quick tips on reducing bills (and carbon):

To reduce the impact of soaring bills – and how our energy use impacts planet – we can use less energy at home. Look through this list and see how many you could start right now. These tips and suggested savings to be made are from the Energy Saving Trust (savings are based on the average household).

Change habits: 

These are free to do, but you’ll need to change your habits to make the energy and emissions savings. You may not be able to make all these changes, but each one you can adds up.

  • Turn off appliances, don’t leave them on standby mode: 

Save around £55 a year by turning your appliances off at the plug, not leaving them on standby. Most appliances can be switched off without messing with their settings, but check their manual if you’re unsure.

  • Turn lights off when not using them:

When you leave a room, turn the lights off. This simple trick could save you £20 a year on your energy bills.

  • Wash your clothes at 30 degrees, and do one fewer wash per week:

Changing how you do your laundry could save £28 on your annual energy bill. Wash your clothes on a 30 degree cycle, and try doing one fewer wash a week.

  • Don’t use the tumble dryer:

Find another way to dry your clothes if you can, like using clothes airers indoors or a washing line outside in the warmer weather. This could save £55 a year.

  • Swap one bath a week for a shower, and take shorter showers:

Swapping one bath a week with a short shower could save you £11 annually. Keeping your shower time to under four minutes will also save around £65 a year on energy bills.

  • Don’t overfill the kettle and fit a flow regulator on your tap:

Only filling the kettle with the water you need could save £11 a year on your energy bill. Make more savings by fitting an aerator, or flow regulator, onto your tap. It’s a small device, easily fitting onto your tap that reduces water use by mixing air into the flow. Installing one could save you £22 a year.

  • Use the dishwasher one less time each week:

Make sure your dishwasher is full when you use it to use less water. Doing so could mean you need to run the dishwasher one less time each week, saving £14 on energy bills (and reducing your water bill too).

Getting a bit more complicated:

Tariff changes, technical fixes or things to buy:

We asked local energy experts AMR Consulting for their tips for changing tariffs, technical changes you could make, or things to buy to use your energy smarter – reducing both your bills and your carbon footprint.

  • Move to a fixed deal, you have more security and are guaranteed no price rises until the end of that term – allowing you to budget more easily. (Want a green energy tariff? Make sure you don’t fall for greenwash.)
  • Money Saving Expert has info on how to best manage suppliers and deals. You can get it here
  • Get a smart meter.  Not only will you get billed accurately, but they are a great way of monitoring your real time energy usage, showing you which appliances use the most energy, allowing you to adjust to reduce your energy usage.
  • Install solar PV and battery storage. This option can be quite pricey and do not expect a return for at least 5-7 years. If you own your home it may be worth considering the long-term benefit to your budget and your carbon footprint.

AMR Consulting specialises in business energy. If you need advice on making your business more energy-efficient and reducing your carbon emissions get in touch with Hayley.

More ideas:

The average home spends over half of its fuel bill on heating and hot water, making this a key area where money and carbon footprint savings can be made.

  • Reduce heat loss at home: draught-proofing and insulation:

Work out where heat is escaping from your home (usually around windows, doors and cracks in floors) and block these gaps. To do this, you can either use DIY methods like draft-proofing tape and draft excluders or you may want to get a professional in to help.

By insulating your home you can also reduce how much you’re spending on heating bills. Find out about cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation, roof insulation and floor insulation with the Energy Saving Trust’s guide.

  • Insulate your hot water cylinder:

Adding an insulation jacket to your hot water cylinder could save you £35 a year on energy costs. This will make sure your water stays hot, meaning you’re not wasting energy reheating it.

  • Turn your thermostat down:

This is a simple way to cut your energy use. For each degree you dial your thermostat down, you’ll save around £65 a year – says MSE.

  • Adjust your boiler settings:

MoneySavingExpert has a guide on how to change your boiler and radiator settings to use less energy.

  • Switch to a different form of heating:

If you have money to invest now to save to reduce both your energy running costs and carbon emissions, you could look at switching to a heat pump or biomass boiler.

Support Renewables: Switch to a green tariff:

Switching is tricky right now. If you can, beware of ‘greenwash’. Don’t get duped by energy companies.

You can switch to a company offering 100% renewable energy. However, as Good Energy writes, it’s hard to figure out which tariffs are actually green. Some energy providers are mis-selling tariffs as green – when they’re really powered by dirty fossil fuels – due to a loophole in regulation. Read Good Energy’s guide to avoid falling for greenwash and misleading claims, making sure you really are supporting the growth of renewable energy.