THE headlines have made grim reading for anyone with their eye on soaring energy bills. Four of the big six energy suppliers have hit consumers with price hikes just as the temperatures drop and the central heating is cranked up.
But what can you do except moan? We all need electricity and heat so surely we just have to get on with it?
Not entirely. There are ways to reclaim the power and take back control of your spiralling bill.
Brian Horne, knowledge manager at the Energy Saving Trust, says there are a range of measures, many cheap and simple, which could help bring costs down.
Would a one degree difference in temperature make a difference to you, for example? Doesn’t sound like much but every degree decrease saves you £60 a year on your bill.
“Many households have their central heating set higher than they need it, without even realising it,” says Brian.
“Try turning your room thermostat down by one degree. Leave it for a day and if you still feel warm enough, try turning it down another degree. Carry on until it feels a bit too cool and then turn it back up one degree.”
And don’t stop there.
“Make sure you turn your lights, appliances and chargers off when you’re not using them. If you turn a light off for even a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes the light to start up again, no matter what sort of lights you have. And virtually all electrical and electronic appliances can safely be turned off at the plug without upsetting their systems – the only exceptions are satellite and digi-boxes which should be left plugged in so they can keep track of any programmes you want to record.
“A family could save around £40 a year just by remembering to turn things off.”
Brian adds: “Unless your home is very new, you’re also likely to be losing some heat through draughts around doors and windows, gaps around the floor, maybe up a chimney or two, and a whole host of other little holes around the house.
“So why not buy some proper draught-proofing products for the doors and windows, seal your skirting boards with mastic, and fit chimney balloons or sealed fire guards? Depending on your house, materials could cost up to £160 but you could save up to £90 a year.”
There are many more measures including installing proper loft installation, cavity wall installation, and switching all your light bulbs for low- energy ones which can all add up to make a real difference.
“A great many households could save between £200 and £300 a year while spending less than that to fit everything in the first year.”
Of course, the biggest saving could be found not in the DIY store but at the click of a computer mouse.
Archna Luthra, from MoneySavingExpert.com, says now is the time to think about switching for the best deal.
“Four of the big six have now hiked prices but there’s still time to beat them. Don’t moan – act now to sort it. The key is to look at switching to a fixed tariff, especially those on standard prices who are paying over the odds. If that’s you, do a comparison to find the cheapest fixed deal for your postcode and usage.
“Unusually, some of the best deals don’t currently have penalties for leaving early – so you’re free to leave if you find a cheaper deal.
“Switching energy will usually net you the biggest savings but everyone should see if their home’s suitable for free loft and cavity wall insulation. Get both and they can slash up to £300 year off the average bill.”