With gas and electricity prices soaring by around £700 annually from the start of April, many of us are thinking about how to cut our bills and beat the price hikes. It’s a daunting time, but there could be double gains to be made…
By rethinking how we use energy in our homes (stopping using so much of it and using it smartly) we can not only reduce the impact of increasing energy bills, but also reduce our carbon footprint and impact on the planet.
We’ve brought together expert advice at this tough time for many, with tips on lowering your energy use and therefore the price hike, switching to a greener supplier, and making sure the local community is supported.
Quick tips on reducing your bills and carbon footprint:
To reduce our energy bills and impact on the planet, we need to use less energy at home. Look through this list and check how many you can start using right away to make savings. These tips and suggested savings to be made are from the Energy Saving Trust (savings are based on the average household).
Change your 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.)
- 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.
- Fit energy-saving LED light bulbs around your home. By replacing all the bulbs in your home with LED lights, you could slash your bills by £30 a year (Data: Energy Saving Trust).
- 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.
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:
Support renewables: switch to a green tariff:
Beware of ‘greenwash’: don’t get duped by energy companies.
Want to reduce the environmental impact of your energy use? 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.
Supporting your 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 others in your community, like pensioners and people on low incomes, 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 (ideas below).
As CSE says: “Some households may not know about these sources of support or feel anxious about contacting them; being encouraged or even just reminded to reach out can really help.”
You could others people in your community by:
- passing on our tips,
- directing them to 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,
- advising them to contact Citizens Advice (and pass on their contact details), which has information on grants and benefits to help pay energy bills,
- running a community get together where people can share tips and information, while having an open conversation about rising energy 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.