How to save electricity and reduce your gas and electricity bills

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Do you dread getting your gas and electricity bill every month? By looking at the common energy wasting culprits and taking just a few simple steps you could save up to £500 a year on your electricity bills.

Here are the top ten reasons your electricity bill is too high and how to save electricity at home.


1. You are using the wrong kind of lightbulbs

Since appliances account for one of the biggest chunks of your electricity bill, it’s crucial that you’re not running old fashioned inefficient appliances when you should be upgrading to energy-efficient models instead.

The energy efficiency rating on your appliances tells you how efficient your home appliances are.

They may cost a bit more than the older machines, but the new generation of appliances will get the job done even better while saving electricity and saving you money in the long run.

The Energy Efficiency Regulations establish a minimum level of energy efficiency for rented flats in England and Wales. This means that, from April 2018, landlords must make sure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E before renting to new tenants.

You should also pay attention to which kind of light bulbs you are using in your house. If you’re still using the normal incandescent type of bulbs then it’s definitely time to make a change.

LED lights use 80–90% less energy, provide better bright light, and last much longer. Some companies, such as Utility Warehouse actually give LEDs to all new customers and will even fit them for you.

How to save electricity: Upgrading your appliances to energy efficiency rated models when they need to be replaced. One of the quickest ways to save electricity is to switch your old bulbs as they run out for new LEDs, or replace your 5 most-used bulbs today to start saving money straight away.


2. Your insulation isn't doing its job

Another big outgoing expense is heating your home. So if your home’s not properly insulated, all the money you spend on heating will be literally going right out the window.

That means you have to spend more money to keep your house warm and keep the cold at bay.

Insulation isn't really something that we think about very often. Especially if we are renting our home we might think that there is nothing we can do to improve our insulation. However, there are some cheap and easy ways to insulate your home, such as using draft excluders and taping up gaps in the windows that can save you money without a great deal of investment.

 

How to save electricity: Replacing all the old windows and doors in your home with well-fitting, double glazed alternatives. Some people on low income can even get insulation fitted for free. If you can’t get your insulation upgraded and it costs too much money then there are other ways to save electricity without breaking the bank. You can use household items to try and keep the draughts at bay as recommended in the video.


3. Extreme Weather

Extreme weather conditions can also cause your energy bills to rise. Recent cold weather snaps, storms and heatwaves such as “The beast from the East,” all contribute to us keeping our heating (or air conditioning) on more than normal.

Since you’re not in control of the weather, you have to find other ways to save electricity at home. It’s best to program your heating to safeguard against spikes in your energy consumption like these. Igloo Energy is one energy company which is helping its customers install "smart technology" such as the Todo Thermostat, which can sense when you leave and come home and switch off your heating accordingly. Igloo Energy claims that just by installing one you can save 30% on your heating bills.

Simple actions such as lowering your heating one degree in the winter can save you up to 5% on your energy bills - money that you can spend on christmas gifts instead.

How to save electricity: In winter try to keep your thermostat set at about 20C in the living room and 18C in the bedroom. Wrap up warm and use extra blankets on your sofa and bed when temperatures become extreme, before changing the thermostat.


4. Too many items on standby. “Vampire Devices”

Standby mode is your enemy when it comes to saving money on your energy bills.

When you turn off your computer, television, mobile phone or tablet, they usually go into standby mode. This means that they don’t completely switch off. However, your devices aren’t asleep during standby. They’re regularly performing updates, downloading content, and wasting energy while you’re not using them.

Recent data shows that your standby devices may be using much more energy than you think.

How to save electricity: Plugging your devices into power strips over individual outlets. Instead of having to unplug everything or crawl behind heavy furniture, simply turn off the power strip and unplug that. A smart meter can help you quickly identify which items are the energy vampires in your home by giving you real time information about how much energy you are using on a digital display.


5. Use electricity at the right time of day

Make sure that you check what type of energy contract you have. Many people are on economy 7 tariffs when they probably shouldn’t be.

Economy 7 tariffs are special tariffs which charge you different rates for your energy during peak and non-peak hours. Usually the “peak” rates are the most expensive.

Peak rates can depend on the area where you live and the energy company that you are with. Typical off-peak times can be 11pm to 6am or midnight to 7am. Peak hours of energy consumption happen during the day and into the early evening. This is when the utility companies experience the most demand for power.

How do you know if an economy 7 tariff could be the right choice for you to save electricity?

If you are on an economy 7 tariff but are using energy during your peak hours you may end up with a hefty bill in your pocket.

If you work unusual hours or are only at home at certain times there are also new energy companies such as Usio Energy who will make an economy 7 package tailored to your personal schedule. This might be worth checking out for customers who definitely want to stick with economy 7 but who aren’t at home during the typical off-peak hours.

How to save electricity: If you are on an economy 7 tariff then you should make sure you know when your non-peak hours are and stick to them when running your appliances to get the most out of the tariff. If more than 35% of your energy usage is during peak times then you should switch away from Economy 7 and onto a standard fixed tariff, otherwise you are throwing money at your energy company.


6. Rises in wholesale energy costs

The cost of household gas and electricity is always in the news – not only is it a hot topic in public but also it has been debated in parliament. Customers have also felt the pinch even more because of the economic recession and wage stagnation in the UK, which means that many people are struggling to pay their bills.

Wholesale energy prices have risen in the last few years and continue to increase. Since February this year alone, prices have increased by 21%. This will have a huge effect on consumers who are already struggling more than ever to pay high prices.

How to save electricity: Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about high wholesale prices but you can make sure that you are doing the best to minimise the damage the rising prices are having on your energy bill. Making sure you follow our energy saving tips, use energy saving gadgets at home, using a smart meter and making sure you are on the cheapest tariff possible will all help.


7. Sticking with one of the Big Six

“The Big Six” are the UK’s biggest energy providers: British Gas, SSE, Scottish Power, E.ON, EDF and Npower. Together they have had a market share of 79 percent for electricity and 78 percent for gas as measured in December 2017.

Many customers make the mistake of thinking that being with one of the Big Six means that they will have better customer service and cheaper prices.

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Unfortunately, this isn’t at all true and in fact Big Six customers face some of the worst customer service. A recent customer service survey by Which? has shown that they consistently come last on the things that matter most to customers - cheap prices and good customer service.

Most customers can find cheaper prices and better customer service with one of the new small suppliers that have emerged on the market in the last few years.

How to save electricity: Moving away from the Big Six. Although many customers feel like they should be loyal to their electricity and gas supplier, the only way to make these big suppliers change is by voting with your feet. There are a lot of very reliable medium-sized and small suppliers who have fantastic customer service and cheaper prices.


8. Your company has misquoted you

Unfortunately not all energy companies are honest and in the energy industry there are some dirty tricks that keep shareholders rich and customers with a hole burning in their pockets. They don't want you to save electricity, in fact its exactly the opposite, the more you spend the better it is for their shareholders.

One of these tactics is underselling tariffs and unfortunately, it’s fairly common.

This happens when a company does an estimate for you. Everything is then fine for a few months until suddenly your energy bill increases and the company starts to tell you that you owe lots of back payments. It’s a nightmare situation.

How to save electricity: Firstly, always make sure that when you switch companies you give an accurate estimate of your usage. Whenever possible, use your actual usage which you will find on your last energy bill. If that’s not possible for whatever reason, then at least make sure that you give as accurate an estimate as possible and thereafter ensure that you send in meter readings every month to make sure you aren’t stung with an unexpectedly large bill.

If you find that you have fallen into the trap of this dirty tactic then you can give us a call to get some advice on the best way to get out of debt and back on track with your finances.


9. Energy company price hikes

This year we have seen the biggest suppliers once again raise their prices to astronomical levels.

British Gas and Scottish Power have raised their prices by 5.5%, while SSE have increased their prices by 6.7%.

This is going to make a huge difference to people who are already struggling to pay their energy bills.

No matter which company you are with, once your contract ends you should compare the market to see if it would make sense switching to either another supplier or another tariff.

How to save electricity: While almost every company is raising their prices, there is still a huge difference in price between the most expensive and cheapest tariffs on the market. Currently, the most expensive tariff on the market is Green Star Energy’s Rate Saver 12m Fixed + Perks 1805. On this tariff a typical family living in London would pay £1139.49 per year. However, if you were on the cheapest tariff, Utility Point’s Just Up 18 Wk27 Direct, you would only be paying only £864.45. That’s a saving of £274.55.

These are only comparing one fixed tariff to another. If you found that you are on a standard variable tariff then the savings could be much much more.


10. Haven’t changed your supplier in a while

We are all creatures of comfort and sometimes we find it difficult to break free from old habits. However, sticking with the same supplier year after year is something that we should definitely leave in the past.

3.5 million customers changed supplier in 2017 but there are still many customers who are cautious about switching suppliers. We would recommend switching supplier at least once a year when your contract ends in order to stay on the best deal possible. Deals change from year to year and the contract that you had the year before may have fallen way behind in the value for money stakes.

How to save electricity: Switching supplier (or at least changing tariff.) Many customers who have been with the Big Six for many years are on a standard variable tariff which they were switched to when their contract ended. For example, 71% of SSE customers are currently on a poor value standard variable tariff. Calling your supplier to change tariff or doing a comparison to find a cheaper deal might mean that you could save hundreds of pounds on your bills. Get a comparison with a reputable company before you switch to make sure you are getting the best deal.