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Utilities, such as gas, electricity and water, are a big part of our monthly outgoings that must be paid if we want to continue having hot showers, cooking meals and washing our clothes. While these utilities are essential in our everyday lives, there are some things you could do at home to reduce the amount of energy or water that you use to bring the cost of your utilities down.
The quickest and easiest way to save money on your gas and electricity bills is to switch suppliers. Whether you’ve been with your current supplier for a long time or you’ve only been with them a year, switching could save you money and is relatively straight forward. According to Ofgem, the government regulator for gas and electricity markets in the UK, the average household can save around £300 a year by simply switching providers.
You can switch as long as you are out of contract with your current supplier. While you may have been tied into a fixed contract for the first 12 or 24 months, there is nothing stopping you looking to switch suppliers when this period is coming to an end. Just remember, before attempting to find a better price for your gas and electricity, do make sure that you are out of contract and able to make a switch.
The switch itself typically takes around three weeks and you should seamlessly transition from one supplier to another with no cut off of electricity or gas.
You could even save money by installing a new boiler. Newer boilers tend to be more energy efficient than their older counterparts. This investment could save you up to 30% on your energy bills each year.
If you’re currently unable to switch suppliers or get a new boiler, there are some things you can do to reduce your energy usage and therefore the amount you pay each month.
If you can avoid cranking up the thermostat the savings can be big. According to the Energy Saving Trust, reducing your heating by just 1°C could cut 10 per cent off your heating bill – typically saving roughly £75 per year year and over 300 kg of carbon dioxide (calculation estimated on 13th Sep 2018).
While you’re adjusting your thermostat, it might also be a good idea to recheck the schedule of your central heating. Do you still need the heating to be on at those times? Perhaps you could alter the heating system so that it comes on an hour later. Doing this could also save you money each year. Maybe if your boiler can accept smart controls you could use them, these may have weather compensation modules included.
A combi boiler should be set to an output temperature of around 75 °C (use weather compensation if available). If it’s set higher than this, your boiler will be able to heat your home up faster, however it could waste a large amount of energy in doing so. In fact, your boiler’s efficiency could decrease by up to 20 per cent. Make sure that the boiler is set to or near this temperature to maintain efficiency and save money.
I’m sure most of us have been told this over and over again during our lifetimes, however, despite it sounding trivial, you may be surprised how much of a difference this small act can make. Leaving lights on could waste a significant amount of energy each year, and light isn’t needed when someone isn’t using that room.
Ensure that lights are always turned off when you are leaving a room. If you regularly forget, you could install a light switch that automatically turns the light off after a set amount of time, or even motion sensor technology that switches a light off when no regular movement is detected. This can be particularly useful in rooms that you go in just to put something away, such as an airing cupboard, cloak cupboard or utility room.
The sun is naturally hot meaning, even in winter, its heat can still warm up your home. This can be done via solar collectors, a heat pump or just by opening your curtains during the daytime.
Solar thermal collectors work by taking advantage of the sun’s heat and channeling it to heat water that can be used in your home. This could save you money on gas. In a similar way, solar PV panels can also generate electricity, saving you money here too. Despite the initial investment on installation, you are likely to enjoy both financial and environmental benefits long term.
A heat pump works by taking natural heat from the air or ground. This ambient heat which is gathered is then used to heat refrigerant which is then compressed using electricity to increase the temperature further and heat water in your home, this can be used for heating or hot water usage. A heat pump generally costs less to run than a standard gas boiler dependent on property type, making this kind of system both energy efficient and cost effective and kinder to the environment. This is further promoted through the Government Green Homes grant Scheme.
Alternatively, you can simply allow the sun to stream into your home during the day. Keep curtains and blinds open and close them when the sun begins to go down. This should allow the heat to warm your home up and then retain it once the sun has gone down.
While your water bills will generally be lower than your electricity and gas bill, you may want to reduce your usage to try and save money if you're on a water meter. Below, you can find some of the best ways to do so.
Did you know that a dripping tap could waste nearly 1,500 litres of water in one year? This could increase depending on how often it drips. If multiple taps are leaking, this figure will only increase and you’ll be spending money on water that has literally gone down the drain. Therefore, it’s important to fix any leaking taps to save money.
A washing machine and dishwasher will use more water to complete two half loads than they do one full load. It’s important that, when you’re using these appliances, they are full so that you don’t have to run a second cycle any time soon.
Where possible, hang your washing on the line to avoid using your tumble dryer if you don’t have to. This will save you money on your electric bill too.
It’s likely that you’ve heard this before, but running a bath or using a power shower can use nearly twice the amount of water as a normal shower. Therefore, try to choose a shower over a bath where possible. If you’re using a power shower, around 14 litres of water are used every minute. Therefore, taking a five minute shower instead of a 10 minute one could reduce your water usage from 140 litres to 70 litres and will therefore save you money.