How to cut the cost of your energy bills

Energy saving light bulb with cash

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Energy costs are rising. Annual fuel bills for the average household have reached £1,420, according to the energy regulator Ofgem. So how can you cut the cost of yours?

These are some basic ways of making your home more energy efficient and saving money.

1. Put a jacket on

Man in a home

If you have an uninsulated hot water cylinder, you could save money by fitting a tank jacket.

You can also insulate exposed pipework around the cylinder and boiler.

The materials for the whole lot will cost you around £25.

You can fit everything yourself and save about £60 a year.

2. Get in control

Installing a room thermostat (if you don't have one) will save you around £70 a year. You can then make savings by using your controls more effectively.

Decide when you want the heating to come on, only heat the areas in your home where it's needed and decide on a temperature.

Turning down your room thermostat by just one degree will save around £65 a year.

The Great Big Energy Saving Challenge

Family with Kate Humble

Peter, Jill and their two children live in Stonehaven, north east Scotland. With cold winters their annual bill for gas and electricity was around £1,700. By taking part in The Great Big Energy Saving Challenge they made large savings.

  • They replaced old incandescent light bulbs with new LEDs. Because there were 99 bulbs in the house it cost around £1000, but they should last 17 years and save £400 annually
  • In their home there's no insulation between the wooden floors and the concrete underneath. The average home will lose between 10 and 15% of heat through the floor, for them it was 35%. Using rugs on the floors will help save between 4 and 6% on energy bills
  • They ditched their teapot which used too much water. Instead, Jill placed a mark on her kettle to show exactly how much water it takes to boil two cups of tea

3. Destroy draughts

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Three-quarters of British households overfill their kettles, wasting a total of £68m each year ”

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Check for gaps around your doors, windows, floor, chimney or anywhere heat may be escaping.

Use draught-proofing products for the doors and windows, fit a chimney draught excluder or use sealed fire guards. Also seal your skirting boards with silicone sealant.

Depending on the size of your home these materials cost up to £160.

It will take around two years for this investment to pay for itself - savings are up to £75 a year.

4. Check up top

Double-check your loft insulation to see if it needs to be replaced or topped-up.

If your loft has nothing in place, 270mm of insulation can save you up to £180 a year.

Topping up your loft insulation from 100mm to 270mm can save you around £25.

5. Turn it off

How power-hungry is your TV?

The average family could save between £50 and £90 a year just by remembering to turn appliances off ( if they aren't doing it already).

If you turn a light off for even a few seconds, you'll save more energy than it takes to switch on again. That applies to all light bulb types.

Nearly all electrical appliances can be turned-off at the plug without upsetting their systems.

The only exceptions are satellite and digital TV recorders. They should be left plugged-in for recording programmes.

Check the instructions on any appliances you're not sure about.

5. Take care in the kitchen

Switching energy supplier?

  • Check you won't have to pay a penalty for cancelling your current contract
  • Find out whether the company offer any incentives or discounts
  • Prepayment meters can help with budgeting but are often a more expensive option
  • If you move to a new supplier you have a 14 day cooling off period after the switch when you can change your mind

Switch and save on energy bills

You can save another £40 a year with careful use of kitchen appliances.

Set your washing machine to wash at 30C. Only use your tumble dryer when you can't dry clothes outside.

Don't fill your kettle to the top, just boil the amount of water you need.

It's estimated three-quarters of British households overfill their kettles, wasting £68m a year in energy costs.

6. Change your head

A family of four will save around £75 a year by installing an eco-showerhead.

They can cut your hot water use with no noticeable difference and are being given away free by some water companies.

They can be used if your shower takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank.

7. Get the right light

Most of us have changed from traditional light bulbs to energy saving ones. But there is now a range of lower energy bulbs that you can install to save you more money.

Even halogen spot lights can be replaced - the new LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are bright enough to do the job.

They are priced between £4 and £20 and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings. If your supermarket doesn't stock them, most DIY stores do.

The Energy Saving Trust recommended logo can give an indication of light quality and durability.

For the average household, changing all bulbs would cost around £125. The low energy versions would last longer and save around £60 a year.

The Great Big Energy Saving Challenge is broadcast on BBC Two Scotland, 31 October 2013.

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