With gas prices set to rise over the next year, energy efficiency has never been more important to businesses and domestic customers. We often take heating and lighting our homes for granted – it’s a ready-made supply and considered one of life’s necessities.
But once those bills start rising, fuel costs begin to become a priority for many of us. The good news is it’s important to realise there are some things you can do to reduce your consumption and cut down the cost of living while we navigate higher prices.
First, it’s important to put everything into context:
- The UK as a whole uses some 309 billion kWh of power a year – that’s an average of 4,600 kWh per household.
- The average duel fuel bill in the UK is £1,131 per year or around £94.35 a month.
- According to Which, the energy cap on prices is set to go up by £139 a year at the beginning of October and cheap energy deals are fast disappearing.
Is Switching Supplier Still a Good Idea?
Just a few months ago, if this question had been asked, we and a lot of other people in the energy market would have said yes. Unfortunately, things have changed quite suddenly and dramatically.
Since the news that wholesale prices of gas have gone up dramatically, we’ve seen a slew of energy companies going out of business. Previously, one of the ways to make significant savings on bills was to switch suppliers and get a better deal – this is becoming less possible as the marketplace shrinks and companies are less willing to offer low prices.
Many smaller businesses have been caught out by the rise in wholesale prices as current caps make it difficult for them to turn a profit and stay in business. Expect less choice over the next few years and less impact on your bills when you decide to switch.
The market is very volatile at the moment and price caps are set to rise again in the New Year. According to the Guardian recently:
“Analysts are warning that the cap could go up to between £1,440 and £1,500 in the spring of 2022, if the rise in wholesale gas prices is sustained. The cap is set every six months after a review.”
While homeowners can’t do anything about rising wholesale prices, they can do a lot to minimise their usage. Taking control of your power supply involves some small changes and a little focus. It’s important to get buy-in from everyone who lives in your household, including children, as this can make a huge difference to how much energy you use.
Some of the following tips are easy to implement and combining them can shave hundreds off your final yearly bill. Others are more costly but can have a more significant impact on your home efficiency and reduce bills in the long run.
Turn Off the Lights
Because we take our energy supply for granted, many of us leave appliances and lights on when we’re not using them. According to the Energy Savings Trust, simply turning out the lights when we leave a room can save around £11 a year.
Now, this doesn’t sound like a lot but you need to consider it as part of a whole raft of measures that you will introduce and which will reduce your energy bill when combined.
Look at how often you leave lights on in an empty room – you may be surprised at how much it is adding to your bills once you bring this under control.
Switch to LED Bulbs
Another thing you can do is switch to energy-efficient LED lightbulbs. These use less electricity and can also save you several more pounds over the year. Switching just one 75 watt incandescent bulb with an LED one can save you about £5 a year. It’s also important to note is that LEDs last much longer than other types of bulbs so you shouldn’t have to replace them anytime soon.
Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
Our energy consumption has changed over the last few decades and we have a lot more appliances that can put a drain on our usage and our finances.
In the past, we maybe had one TV, radio and maybe an electric fire. Now we have all sorts of devices that need charging. Kids have TVs and computers in their rooms, then there’s the dishwasher, the washing machine and the fridge.
When you upgrade an appliance in your home, don’t just look at what it can do for the family but also consider how energy efficient it is. Most modern washing machines, for example, have eco settings that help reduce costs.
Don’t Leave Devices on Standby
This is probably one of our biggest bugbears but it’s again something that almost everyone does. TVs and the like are left on standby overnight or when we go to work – doing nothing but using up electricity and costing us more. Simply leaving the TV and other devices on standby could be costing you anywhere up to £30 a year.
Our advice is to turn off appliances at the plug when not in use – you might be surprised at how much you save especially if you have a big family.
Invest in Draught Proofing
Another simple thing you can do to keep the heat in your home and lower your fuel costs is to improve the draught-proofing around the house.
Especially in older homes, there can be multiple draughts around the doors and various nooks and crannies that can cause cold spots and reduce efficiency. It’s worth having a look around your house or flat to see what you can do about these.
A simple draught excluder around a door frame or investing in a fabric one for the base of the door for those cold winter months can make a big difference.
Lower Your Thermostat
Lowering the thermostat on your heating by just one or two degrees can also make a small but significant difference without making your home feel too cold. According to Hip Magazine, turning that thermostat down by just 1 degree could save you as much as £80 a year.
When you set the heating to come on and go off can also make a difference – the average radiator takes around 30 minutes to cool down so take this into account when setting everything.
Update Your Double Glazing
When it comes to insulating your home, double glazing is probably the biggest investment that you are going to make during your lifetime. If you have glazing already installed, however, and you want to upgrade it, replacing the glass panels can be less expensive than you may think.
You can buy more efficient sealed units online for a much smaller amount than replacing the whole frame through a double glazing firm. For older homes, in particular, this can deliver good savings. For example, upgrading to A-rated windows could save you as much as £75 a year.
Check Your Loft Insulation
Another slightly more expensive option is to replace or renew your loft insulation. Most people don’t check their loft to see if the insulation is in good condition. Replacing it can save you as much as £300 a year, according to the Energy Savings Trust.
The good news is that the Government offer a range of different grants to help people insulate their homes properly and thus reduce fuel bills. Many of these are available under the Energy Company Obligation Scheme or ECO.
Free Up Radiators
If you’ve got your sofa or other furniture pushed up against a radiator, you could be reducing the energy efficiency of your home. Make sure you leave at least some space so the heat can get into the room rather than being blocked.
Replacing Your Old Boiler
Probably the most expensive option is to replace an old boiler with a new, hyper-efficient one, though this is not as costly as many people think and the return on investment can be very good.
Older boilers are naturally less efficient and could be costing you a lot – not only because you are using more gas but also because older boilers tend to break down and need repairing more often.
The good news is that companies like AddHeat offer the chance to spread the cost of your new boiler installation over several years. That means getting a new boiler is more accessible than it has ever been.
If you’ve had your boiler for more than 15 years or you are starting to see your fuel bills rise and it has nothing to do with wholesale prices, it may be time to consider a change. You should also consider a replacement if you are constantly having to call out a repair team to solve issues with your boiler.
Today’s efficient boilers are designed to reduce the environmental impact and cut back on how much gas is used to heat a property. Depending on the boiler you are replacing, you could reduce your outgoings by as much as £200 to £350 a year and significantly lower your environmental impact.
New boilers also give you more accurate temperature control and can even be linked to a smart app so you can access greater control and monitoring through your internet connection. You also have complete peace of mind that your boiler is going to be operating without the need for repairs for some considerable time and under warranty.
At AddHeat, we’re not just boiler installers but look at all aspects of your home energy efficiency and can give advice in getting value for money. We offer a wide range of different installations whether you have a large family and complex heating needs or you simply want to heat your flat more efficiently. We can also help install smart options like the Nest thermostat which helps you control your usage remotely.
Another thing to consider is how often you have your boiler and radiators serviced. Good maintenance is essential if you want your system to remain efficient over the years. If you don’t want to put in a new boiler, regular maintenance is the next best thing when you want to keep the costs down.
First of all, maintenance prevents smaller problems become more serious, leading to expensive repair bills. Giving your boiler a tune-up every year also ensures that it is operating at an optimal level and continuing to save you money on your gas bills. On top of this, regular services prolong the lifespan of your boiler which means you won’t have to replace it any time soon.
Our gas boiler service costs just £69 + VAT and is carried out by a qualified engineer. You can find out more here.
Go Smart and Monitor Usage
There is a lot of different smart technology coming onto the market nowadays and it’s worth investigating these and how they can help you save on your fuel costs. Monitoring technology like Nest gives you a clear idea of where and when you are using gas and electricity and offers you the chance to change things and become more efficient.
Not only are there smart thermostats but your lights can now be controlled from an app on your phone. There are even plugs that can be voice-activated.
There’s no doubt that we’re going to be facing more challenges when it comes to rising energy prices over the next few years. Implementing some or all of the savings tips above can help reduce that cost and ensure that your next utility bill isn’t a big shock. One of the key factors, however, is getting everyone in the household to buy into the changes in behaviour.
Why Get Your Boiler From AddHeat?
If you are currently thinking about replacing your existing boiler, the team at AddHeat are based in the North West and carry out some 500 installations a year. We can provide you with the advice you need and a choice of several highly efficient boiler brands so you can have complete peace of mind.