How to cut your energy bill this winter

Harvey Jones

Millions will be worrying how to heat and light their home this winter as Ofgem figures show the average utility bill now costs a shocking £1,194 a year. However, with a little effort there is plenty you can do to stop your gas and electricity bills from going through the roof…

Switch!

One piece of good news is that the new government-backed price cap on bills should save around 11 million households £75 a year.

However, Ofgem says the average household could save far more than that—£352 a year—by switching to the cheapest gas and electricity deal on the market.

Deals change all the time but the best one to go for is usually a dual-fuel paperless tariff paid by direct debit, with the average cost currently £842. 

Despite the potential savings and a growing choice of suppliers, more than half of Britons haven't switched for at least two years with those sitting on their supplier's standard variable tariff paying most.

It’s easier than you think using one of the 11 accredited comparison sites listed at Ofgem.gov.uk, but check for cancellation charges if currently locked into a fixed rate plan.

 

Use less energy

There is plenty you can do around the home to slash your utility bills. Turning down your thermostat by just one degree saves the average home around £75 a year, the Energy Saving Trust calculates.You should only set your heating and hot water to come on when you need them, to cut costs.

Proper loft and cavity wall insulation can significantly reduce unnecessary heat loss and bring big savings. Even simple measures such as draught-proofing windows, doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can save around £20 a year. Switching off lights in unused rooms will save around £15 a year.

The Energy Saving Trust calculates that you can save around £36 a year by year-round measures such as using a bowl to wash up rather than running the tap, using your washing machine for one cycle less per week or only filling your kettle with water you will actually use.

You can save around £30 a year by turning your appliances off standby mode, (although some satellite and digital TV recorders may need to be left plugged in). A water efficient shower head could save a four-person household £70 a year on gas for water heating, while spending one minute less in the shower every time could save another £28.

 

Feel the benefit

Those on low incomes or state benefits should make sure they get the Warm Home Discount, which could take £140 off their winter electricity bill. The Cold Weather Payment gives low income households a further £25 for each seven-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

Those born on or before 5 May 1953 should automatically receive the Winter Fuel Payment worth between £100 and £300. If you do not receive these payments check your eligibility on Gov.uk.