Saving money on your energy bills

Mammoth energy bill charges just to stay snuggly in the winter months are never fun, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little know-how you can bring down the cost of your energy bills.

Woman loads washing machine.

Send regular meter readings

Your energy company aren’t telling you this just to annoy you. Since many bills are estimated, sending monthly readings ensures you only pay for what you use. People who take regular readings typically use less energy than those who don’t.

If you want to get clever about it, consider buying an energy monitor. These cost around £25-30 and help you understand which appliances suck up the most energy.

Saving money on electricity

There are a few easy ways to cut down on your electric bill:

  • Pay by direct debit as it’s usually cheaper and means you won’t miss a payment.
  • If you don’t need a light on – even for a few minutes – it’s cheaper to turn it off.
  • Standby is your enemy. The average home spends £35 a year on electricity used when items like TVs are left on standby. Even leaving chargers plugged in constantly wastes money.
  • One full load in your washing machine uses less energy than two half loads.
  • Wash your clothes at 30°C unless something is REALLY dirty.
  • Don’t boil more water than you need. If you only want one cup of tea then don’t fill up the whole kettle.
  • Use energy saving bulbs as they last longer than ordinary bulbs and can save you around £55 over the lifetime of a normal bulb.
  • Put a jumper on.

Saving money on heating

Here are a few easy ways to save money on your heating:

  • Turning down your room or radiator thermostats by 1°C will save around 10% on your heating bill.
  • Only put your heating on when you need it. Set your heating to come on 20 minutes before you need it and to go off 20 minutes before you don’t.
  • If you have radiators and go away in winter set the heating to come on for 10 minutes twice a day to prevent pipes from bursting.
  • A pair of well-lined curtains can keep in almost as much heat as double glazing at a fraction of the cost.

Switching energy supplier

Use a comparison site to compare the different energy deals available. When looking for a new deal make sure it is cheaper for you in the long run rather than just being beneficial now. Done right you could save up to £200 a year.

Switching energy supplier can save you hundreds of pounds on your energy bills and should take around 17 days. Your gas and electricity won’t be cut off at any point and the only change will be a new supplier sending you your bills.

If you can’t pay a bill

If you tell your energy company you’re struggling they will probably set up a payment plan that you can afford. If you’re really struggling, ask if they have a special scheme for those in need. This might involve having your bills capped regardless of the amount of energy you use (usually for those with certain medical conditions) or being given a one-off grant.

Long term investments

Spending some money now could save you lots on future bills:

  • Draughtproofing is inexpensive and you can usually do it yourself. Products available include strips to go around doors, brushes for letter boxes, jackets for hot water tanks, foam for pipes and products which stop heat escaping up chimneys.
  • Programmers give you control over your heating system. Some allow you to change your heating settings wherever you are using an app on your phone. Purchase and installation will cost from around £200.
  • An annual boiler service will make sure it’s performing well. If you live in rented accommodation your landlord is obliged to have the boiler safety-checked once a year.

Grants and loans for insulation, double glazing and other measures

It might even be possible to get a grant or loan cover the cost of insulating your home – speak to your energy supplier for information or have a look at this advice.

More information

  • Moving out for the first time? Get the real Home Truths.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau offer free help with housing, money and legal problems. Find your local bureau.
  • Go to Money Advice Service for free and impartial money advice.
  • Call Money for Life's helpline for free on 0808 801 0666 to get the support you need on money, debt, benefits and more. Open 11am – 11pm every day.