The big six energy giants are hiking their prices, just in time for the coldest months. And now we’ve been told that bills are likely to rise faster than inflation for the next 17 years!
EDF is the latest, upping its bills by an average of 3.9%. SSE bills rocket by 8.2% this month, British Gas by 9.2%, Scottish Power by 8.6% in December and Npower by a whopping 10.4% next month.
For people who are worried about their energy bills, spending a few grand on insulation or double glazing, or upgrading your boiler to a more efficient model just isn’t possible.
Of course, one option is to get credit through the Green Deal and repay the money through your energy bills. However, the idea is that the savings made cancel out the repayments, so your bills would actually remain the same or fall just a little.
Another option is to consider free and low-cost ways to save money in the home, like these:
Free the radiators
Is your sofa directly in front of the radiator? Does your bed block the radiator in your bedroom? Do you cover the bathroom radiator with towels?
Blocking radiators can stop the warmth passing freely into the room, meaning it takes longer to heat. If you can, move furniture out of the way and your rooms will heat much faster.
Slow down your shower
Fitting a shower regulator can reduce your energy bills and save you up to £43 a year on your water bills. It screws over the shower head and cuts down on the amount of water used.
Most water customers can get one sent out to them for free through their provider, just check out this Consumer Council for Water page to see if yours does too.
And a shower regulator isn’t the only money-saving freebie you can get; most water firms will also give customers shower timers, cistern bricks and other devices absolutely free.
Closing the curtains is a great way to save energy as it stops the warmth you’re paying for from escaping through your windows. Just make sure your curtains don’t cover the tops of the radiators or you’ll lose much of your heat.
Always open the curtains during the day to make use of the sun’s light and warmth, but close them at dusk when it starts to cool down.
But curtains aren’t just for windows. Hanging a curtain over outside doors can really cut down on the draughts and reduce heat loss. If you don’t have a spare curtain, you could ask around on websites such as Freegle and Freecycle.
Stuff your freezer
Empty space in your freezer takes more energy to keep cold. Stuff any spaces with newspaper to help it run more efficiently.
If you’re really organised then you can save money by stocking up on meals. You can bake a few meals at a time to get the most out of having your oven on, then freeze the spares.
Microwaving a defrosted meal uses less energy than firing up the oven again, so you’ll save energy with your freezer and your oven.
Clingfilm your windows
If you only have single glazing then an awful lot of heat is escaping through your windows. One low-tech, low-cost way to reduce that is to cover them with clingfilm, giving them some extra insulation.
However, if you can afford to spend around £15 then you could buy special glazing film from a DIY shop. It’s not going to be as good as double glazing but it will make some difference.
Cover your chimney
If you don’t use your fireplace then you could be losing energy unnecessarily. Consider covering it with a screen, or close it if you can. For under £20 you can buy a chimney draught excluder that stops warmth escaping.
And while you’re blocking up that hole, hunt for other draughts. Spaces under doors, the letter box, a cat flap – cover these if possible or line them with an insulating brush if you can’t – these can be bought for a few quid at any DIY shop.
Don’t heat unused rooms
If you have rooms you don’t use much, like a spare bedroom or a storage room, then turn the radiator right down to preserve energy.
Just make sure you keep the doors closed so that warmth remains in the rooms you actually use.
Change your habits
Of course, you can retrofit your home with the most expensive ways to save energy on the planet, but if you don’t change your habits then you’re still spending too much.
From turning lights off as you leave the room to putting less water in the kettle, you can train yourself to use less energy. There are more tips on energy-saving habits here.
If you have children who don’t quite understand how much of a difference these things can make then consider getting an energy monitor to show them.
These highlight how much power a home is using at any one time. They cost around £10 but you may be able to get a free one from your gas and electricity provider, call its customer service line to see.