Energy bills going up – here are 8 tricks to save money on gas & electricity
Energy companies will concoct any number of explanations to jack up gas and electricity prices.
Recently, the energy regulator Ofgem said that there was "no excuse" for price rises.
Executives from the big six, however, said the regulator had got its sums wrong and probably would be raising prices.
THE BEST WAY TO SAVE: GET A QUOTE AND SWITCH
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: loyalty doesn’t pay. You can’t rely on your provider to act in your best interests.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to cut your bills down (first things first, compare energy prices online to make sure you're getting the best deal).
Many are just little changes, but all of them could help you save big money.
We hope they help (if you find them useful, why not share them with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons at the top?)
Wear a jumper
Let’s start with the easiest one first – wearing sensible clothing.
Pounding out the central heating to turn your living room into Ibiza and putting on a tee shirt is not, as I'm sure you can guess, efficient.
Turning the thermostat down from 20 to 19 degrees, for exmaple, can knock 10 per cent off your bill - that's £60 for the average home.
All about appliances
Cutting down on water waste will cut down your electricity bill.
Try turning down the heat on your washing machine to 30 degrees, using the tumble drier sparingly and turning down the heat on hobs when cooking.
And get a plumber in to tighten that leaky tap.
Dripping taps wastes enough hot water to fill 69 baths a year.
SAVE MONEY SWITCHING TO A CHEAPER ENERGY DEAL
Turn off the lights
How many times have you dashed out to the shops and left the light on?
Hundreds no doubt.
Knocking this habit on the head and turning the lights off when they’re not needed can save you £10 a year.
Make sure you unplug any appliances – laptops, chargers etc – that aren’t in use.
There’s more on lights, including energy-saving bulbs in our guide on how to save money on your energy bills.
Don’t pay by cash or cheque
Paying by cash or cheque is expensive and often bars you from the best online deals.
Unless you absolutely have to, or are from the 19th Century, don't do it.
Customers who pay by direct debit can get discounts of around £100 on the average bill.
Going paperless (where you view your bill online) can also get you a discount; SSE, for example, give discounts of up to £12 for customers who
elect for paperless billing.
Everything you need to know about paying for energy by direct debit is in our guide.
Fixing or replacing your boiler
Boilers swallow 79 per cent of your total fuel use, say the Energy Saving Trust.
Ditching an old boiler for a more efficient model could save you up to £240 a year.
A new model is, however, likely to be expensive, so buying a top-range boiler may only be worth it for bigger houses and families.
Breakdowns, too, are costly. Getting the right boiler cover can save you a headache (and a hefty bill) when it breaks.
Take regular meter readings
There’s no excuse not to do this, other than laziness.
Estimated bills – when your supplier guesses your energy use in a year and averages it out – can leave you paying way over the odds.
Take meter readings every three months at least and give them to your supplier. If you're in credit, claim the money you're owed.
Most suppliers will let you submit readings online.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR BILLS AND SAVE MONEY NOW
Claim any benefits you’re owed
Last year the government paid out £2.1 billion in winter fuel benefits under schemes such as the Warm Home Discount, with payments ranging from £200 to £300.
Remember: if the temperature in your post code is below zero for seven days in a row between November and March, you are entitled to £25.
Swot up on your rights and make sure you claim what you’re owed.
Switch to a cheaper deal
Lastly (and this is where the big money is to be saved), compare energy prices online to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Use A Spokesman Said.
We want to make sure you’re not getting fleeced.
On average, A Spokesman Said users saved £400 switching energy.
If you’re worried about future price rises, it might be worth locking yourself in to a fixed tariff deal – which fixes your prices for a year or two years depending on the length of the contract.
Remember: If your supplier increases any charges set out in your contract, you can cancel without paying a penny.
Good luck to you.