As you may have heard on the news, the UK energy market is currently under an immense amount of stress as a result of a global gas shortage driving up costs and putting several energy suppliers out of business. To learn more about this and stay updated on a daily basis you can read our page on the UK energy crisis.
Here we’ll look at some ways to conserve energy and save on energy bills with practical tips that you can start using right now… Let’s make sure that spending more time in your homes doesn’t mean that your energy bills have to skyrocket!
Energy saving tips
During the 3 national lockdowns we’ve endured in this country, many of us have been using more energy. But even so, we are a nation that pays way over the odds for the energy we use. In fact, the National Audit Office estimates that UK energy consumers spend over £800 million more than they should for the gas and electricity they use. A lot of this cost can be mitigated by taking a close look at your energy tariff and seeing if it is aligned with your household’s needs (more on that later). But first let’s look at some energy saving tips that can help you save on energy bills.
How much energy does the average household use?
If you want to save on your utility bills, the first thing you need to look at is your household’s energy consumption. This may be a little higher than usual under the current circumstances. Data suggests that throughout 2020, our national energy consumption fluctuated between 70.38% and over 119% of our consumption in 2019, some find that it helps to see how their energy consumption stacks up against the national average.
Energy companies use the following energy-use parameters to determine whether an energy company is low, medium or high.
- Low- 1,800 kWh electricity, 8,000 kWh gas
- Medium- 2,900 kWh electricity, 12,000 kWh gas
- High- 4,300 kWh electricity, 17,000 kWh gas
As such, the national average for 2020 was 2,900 kWh of electricity and 12,000 kWh of gas. If your energy usage is significantly higher than this, there are lots of ways in which you can bring it down and save on energy bills.
Let’s look at some ways in which we can save on both fuels.
How to save electricity
Electricity plays a huge role in the way we live, work and relax at home. We rely on it to light up our living space, charge our phones, tablets and laptops and power our kitchen appliances. Whether your household only uses electricity or whether it uses both electricity and gas, you can save on energy bills by reducing your electricity consumption.
We’ve compiled a list of electricity saving tips that you can start implementing right now:
- Switch off the lights every time you leave a room.
- Replace inefficient incandescent bulbs (which waste 90% of their energy generating heat) with LED or CFL lamps.
- Switch of “electricity vampires” like TVs, games consoles, set-top boxes and DVD / Blu Ray players at the wall when not in use. These can use 80% as much energy when on standby.
- Wash your clothes on a lower temperature. 30 degrees should be perfectly adequate for most loads.
- Wash full loads in your washing machine rather than multiple half-loads.
- If your home uses storage heaters, make sure that you adjust the output and input settings in accordance with the weather so that you don’t waste heat.
- When boiling the kettle, only boil as much water as you need.
- Take shorter showers. 4 minutes is all it takes to get squeaky clean, and shorter showers will save on both electricity and water.
Dual-rate meter savings
If you are on an economy 7 or economy 10 meter, you can make even more savings on your electricity bills. Where possible, try and maximise your energy use during off-peak hours. These will vary depending on your region. You can see a breakdown of off-peak hours by region in the table below:
|Eastern area||7 hours between 11pm and 7am|
|East Midlands area||7 hours between 11pm and 7am|
|London area||7 hours between 11pm and 7am|
|Merseyside & North Wales area||7 hours between 12am and 8am|
|Midlands area||7 hours between 11:30pm and 8am|
|North East area||7 hours between 12:30am and 7:30am|
|North West area||7 hours between 12:30am and 7:30am|
|North Scotland area||All meters have different settings|
|South Scotland area||7 hours between 10pm and 8:30am|
|South East area||10.30pm to 5.30am and 12.30am to 7.30am|
|Southern area||7 hours between 11:30pm and 6:30am|
|South Wales area||All meters have different settings|
|South West area||All meters have different settings|
|Yorkshire area||7 hours between 12:30am and 7:30am|
Use these off-peak hours for activities like:
- Using your washer / drier.
- Charging your phone, laptop or tablet.
- Using the dishwasher.
- Using storage heaters.
- Warming up your underfloor heating.
How to save gas
If your home uses gas as well as electricity, this presents scope to save on your energy bills. The most common uses for gas around the home are cooking and heating. And while we certainly don’t expect you to compromise on staying warm and cosy or enjoying tasty meals, you may be surprised how small changes can add up to a big difference through the year:
- Turn down your thermostat (just a single degree less can save up to £75 per year)
- Use your oven window to check on your cooking and baking. Opening the door reduces the temperature and potentially wastes gas
- Where possible, take a shower instead of a bath
- Avoid drying your clothes on radiators as this can prevent the heat from circulating through the room
- For the same reason, avoid placing
- Bleed your radiators once a year to ensure that they heat up optimally
We’ll look at some specific ways in which you can save money on heating shortly.
Which energy-efficient appliances do you need?
We’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can employ technology to aid us in the battle against rising energy costs. There are a wealth of energy-efficient appliances and smart gadgets that can save us money throughout the year, every year on our energy. Of course, these represent a degree of upfront investment. However, they should more than pay for themselves over time.
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So, if you need to replace your white goods, your TV or other appliances, you could do worse than consider the following:
- LED TVs. These are around 30% more energy-efficient than LCD TVs and use around a third as much energy as plasma screen TVs.
- energy-efficient dishwashers. The latest generation of dishwashers use as little as 200 kWh of electricity per year.
- An A++ rated refrigerator can save over £110 per year compares to an A rated model.
- energy-efficient washing machines use 25% less energy and 40% less water than their conventional counterparts.
- Plugging your TV, games consoles and media players into a smart plug or power strip will switch them off instead of putting them on standby when not in use. This alone can save around £68 per year.
- Smart thermostats allow you to control your home’s temperature from your smartphone as well as learning your household’s habits to distribute heat around the home more efficiently. Installing one costs around £260 but they can result in savings of up to £350 per year.
How can I lower my heating bill?
In the cold winter months, many of us are wondering how we can cut down the cost of heating our homes. Of course, there are lots of little things we can do to heat our homes without cost like opening curtains and blinds throughout the day and capitalising on the free heat energy from the sun. Likewise, ensuring that radiators are regularly bled and unimpeded can ensure that our central heating works more efficiently.
Getting the most out of storage heaters
Likewise, if your home uses storage heaters, it’s essential that you get to grips with their input and output controls to ensure that you’re using them as efficiently as possible.
These have 2 controls. One controls your output (how hot the heater makes the room), the other controls for input (how much heat is directed to the unit). Set the output control to the temperature you want the room to be, setting it to zero when you go out or go to bed.
The input control needs to be set to account for tomorrow’s usage. So if you know that it’s going to be cold the next day, you should turn up, and turn it down when you believe that you’ll be warm enough. These heaters then absorb energy during off-peak hours when it’s likely to be cheaper, storing it until it’s ready to use through the day.
The potential savings of energy-saving solutions
If you’re prepared to invest in a more energy-efficient home, you may be surprised by how much you could save by replacing your windows, doors and insulation. Not all double glazing is created equal. The British Fenestration Rating Council(BFRC) has a tarings scale for windows and doors that goes from E to A++. If your current windows and doors are rated at C or less, you could save hundreds of pounds on heating your home over the years by replacing them.
Likewise, having your boiler serviced regularly serviced can ensure that it is as energy-efficient as possible. However, most boilers become less energy-efficient over time. It’s recommended that you should replace your boiler every 12-15 years.
In the table below, we’ve identified some energy-saving investments to help heat your home, and the potential savings that they offer.
|Energy Saving Solution||Potential Savings|
|Turning down your thermostat by just one degree.||£75 per year.|
|Replacing your windows or doors with BFRC A++ rated alternatives.||Up to £120 per year.|
|Replacing your loft and wall cavity insulation.||Up to £395 per year.|
|Installing a smart thermostat.||Up to £350 per year.|
|Replacing your boiler if it’s more than 12 years old.||Up to £305 per year.|
Reducing your heating costs can go a long way towards saving on energy bills in the long term.
Generating your own electricity
As well as cutting down on the energy you consume, you can also save on energy bills by generating your own electricity so that you’re less reliant on energy from the National Grid. There are more options ever when it comes to generating your own electricity, and they’re growing more affordable and accessible.
In the past decade or so, residential solar panels have plummeted in price by around 70%. Seasoned DIYers will be glad to know that do-it-yourself solar panel kits cost as little as £600.
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panel arrays can generate anywhere between £85 and £200 per year in savings on your energy bills. Although the UK isn’t known for its sunny climate, PV solar panels absorb solar energy all day, even in cloudy conditions. Although they can take years to become profitable, they are a great option for households that want to become more self-sufficient and reduce their carbon footprint.
Domestic wind turbines
The UK is a world leader when it comes to generating electricity from wind energy. The country has 10,911 active wind turbines according to the UK Wind Energy Database, this figure includes a growing number of small-scale domestic wind turbines used by homes and businesses to generate their own carbon-neutral energy. These arrays tend to take around 5-10 years to become profitable, depending on the location of your turbine and the typical weather conditions in your area.
Households can even pair wind turbines and solar panels to create a hybrid system that generates energy through the night and day in all kinds of weather conditions.
If you live close to a body of water, you may also be able to set up your own micro hydropower system that will offset your energy spend by roughly 16p per kWh. These setups tend to be quite expensive (an entry level 1kW turbine will probably cost around £5,000 plus installation). Nonetheless, it can be an effective way to generate carbon-neutral energy whatever the weather.
Feed In Tariffs/ Smart Export Guarantee
Whatever energy you don’t use to power your home can be fed back into the National Grid. What’s more, your energy supplier will pay you for the energy you feed in. This has traditionally been done via a Feed in Tariff (FiT). These are long-term arrangements that tend to last for decades. Even if you switch energy suppliers, your FiT will remain in place.
In 2019, Feed in Tariffs were discontinued for new applicants. They were replaced by the Smart Export Guarantee. The SEG functions in the same way as FiTs, and is more readily available with more and more energy suppliers participating. However, rates are slightly lower than FiTs. They range between 2p and 5.6p per kWh at the time of writing.
Government energy grant (Green Home Grant)
Making energy-efficient renovations can result in years of savings. But the upfront costs can be prohibitive for many households. Launched in September 2020, the Green Homes Grant is designed to mitigate the cost of energy-efficient home renovations.
It covers up to two thirds of the cost of renovations, up to a maximum value of £5,000. Households on a low income can claim up to 100% of the cost of renovations up to a maximum value of £10,000.
The Green Home grant one government energy grant that is available to own homeowners in England, including landlords. I covers a range of “primary” home improvements including:
- Loft or roof insulation.
- Cavity wall insulation.
- Solid wall insulation.
- Underfoot insulation.
- Park home insulation.
- Ground / air source heat pumps.
- Hybrid heat pumps.
- Biomass boilers
- Solar thermal heaters.
In addition to these primary home improvements, applicants can also get the same discount against secondary home improvements.
- Energy-efficient doors.
- New thermostatic controls
Secondary improvements can also include double glazed windows, but only if your home currently has single glazing. Applicants can only get a grant for secondary improvements in addition to primary improvements. You cannot apply for these on their own.
The scheme is only available until the end of March 2021, so make sure you get your application in as soon as possible.
Use this government eligibility ckecker to find out if you are eligible, and how much you can claim.
Government rebates and discounts
The UK government also provides a series of rebates and discounts that can help vulnerable energy consumers to mitigate the cost of heating and powering their homes in the cold winter months. These include:
Warm home discount
The warm home discount is administered by energy companies in conjunction with the government. It is a one-off flat-rate discount of £140 which is deducted from your heating bill over winter. You can apply through your energy supplier if you are in receipt of:
- The guarantee element of pension credit
- Income support
- Income based Jobseekers’ Allowance
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance
- Low income elements of universal credit
Winter fuel payment
The winter fuel payment is available to pension-aged energy consumers. If you were born on or before October 1954 you are automatically eligible for the grant. You are also available if you claim certain social security benefits.
Cold weather payment
The cold weather payment is intended to help vulnerable energy consumers to heat their homes when the temperature drops below freezing. Energy consumers can get £25 for every week between 1st November and 31st March where the temperature drops below freezing.
You can apply for this if you are in receipt of one of the following benefits:
- Pension Credit
- Universal Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support for Mortgage Interest
Switch energy suppliers
As we can see, there are lots of ways to reduce the amount of energy you use in the home. But perhaps the most powerfully effective thing you can do to save on energy bills is to switch to a new energy supplier.
The energy watchdog Ofgem regulates the energy price cap and recommends switching energy suppliers every 12-18 months. Not only does this help to keep your energy costs manageable and ensure that you get the best value for money, it helps to keep the energy industry competitive.
It’s estimated that the average household could save up to £300 per year just by switching suppliers every 12-18 months. It’s all about finding the right tariff for your needs.
That’s where we come in.
Fixed price energy tariff vs variable rate energy tariff
There are all kinds of energy tariffs on the market today. From 100% renewable energy tariffs to paperless and online-only tariffs. However, energy tariffs broadly fall into two categories: fixed-price energy tariffs and variable-rate energy tariffs.
Fixed-rate tariffs keep your energy costs locked in place for a fixed time (typically either 12 or 24 months). They are usually the cheaper option, and can prevent consumers from being unpleasantly surprised by changes in energy costs. This makes it easier to budget and plan your future energy spend. However, these tariffs come with caveats. Most fixed rate energy tariffs carry an early exit fee. So if you switch before your contract expires, you could have to pay up to £25-£50 per fuel. That said, your savings may more than mitigate the cost of these fees. And if you switch within 49 days of your contract’s end, you won’t have to pay a penny.
Variable-rate tariffs rise and fall in line with the cost of wholesale energy. These tariffs are particularly good value at the time of writing as wholesale energy costs are fairly low. However, the cost of wholesale energy can go up as well as down. Your energy supplier has to give you 30 days’ notice before changing your energy prices. That should give you more than enough time to switch to a new supplier.
How to switch
Switching to a new supplier is quick and easy. Especially with the Papernest team on your side. Although there are no shortage of price comparison services out there, browsing through them all can be a time-consuming process.
We scour the market on your behalf to find the best value energy deal for your needs, including plans that you won’t find on the usual price comparison sites. What’s more, we can manage your switch for you from end-to-end. So you can start to save on energy bills quickly and 100% hassle-free.
Sound like a plan?
Call the Papernest team today on 0330 818 6225 to find out more.
We’re available from 8am to 6pm.
How can I use less energy at home?
There are lots of ways in which you can save on energy bills by using less energy at home. From little things like replacing incandescent bulbs with energy-saving CFL or LED bulbs to replacing your windows or cavity wall insulation to save on heating. Even something as simple as switching appliances off at the wall when not in use can save almost £70 per year.
Making energy-efficient home improvements can be costly. The good news is that you can apply to the Green Homes Grant until the end of March 2021 to recover up to two-thirds of the cost of renovations.
How much could I save by switching energy supplier?
According to the Money Advice Service, switching energy suppliers could save the average household up to £300 per year without reducing their energy consumption. Switching suppliers as well as taking steps to conserve energy can make for huge savings.
How often should I compare energy prices?
The energy watchdog Ofgem recommends switching suppliers at least once every 12-18 months. This not only ensures that you get great value for money, it also ensures that the energy industry is competitively priced.
What is the difference between the Feed in Tariff and the Smart Export Guarantee?
The Smart Export Guarantee works in exactly the same way as its predecessor the Feed in Tariff. However, rates are slightly lower, typically paying between 2p and 5.6p per kWh. Although Feed in Tariffs will continue for those who already have agreements in place, they are not available for new applicants.
Updated on 24 Jan, 2022
Energy Specialist & Copywriter