In January our Moneywise team brought you some expert money savings tips for when you go shopping. This month they have been busy searching around (with the lights off) to find you some tips to save £££s on your water, gas and electricity bills.
1. Switch your energy supplier
The average household could get a better deal with another supplier – make sure you’re on the best deal when it comes to your gas and electricity. Different suppliers will have different rates and prices. We recommend that you always shop around (using sites like uSwitch or Which?) to find a cheaper deal that works best for you. There are some great energy switching comparison sites you could use – but a good place to start is the Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Gas & Electricity guide.
2. Stop using prepayment meters
Prepayment meters can be one of the most expensive ways of paying for your energy. You may be able to save money by asking your supplier to switch you to standard meter and pay monthly bills with a direct debit. Even with the best prepayment deal people pay an average of £235* a year more than those paying by direct debit. If you have a prepayment meter, you should be able to change your meter for a regular one by asking your supplier – though they may run a credit check as part of the process. Also, be sure to ask your energy supplier if they will charge for the switch. Some do and some don’t, so make sure you ask the right questions before you change. Paying your gas or electricity by a monthly direct debit can require budgeting to avoid falling into debt – contact our Moneywise team for budgeting advice.
*information from http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
3. Buying energy efficient appliances
An electrical item like a fridge uses a low amount of energy to run. However, because it’s on all the time it’ll use a lot of electricity. Which is why when shopping for a fridge or any other electrical appliance (like ovens, dishwashers, washing machines etc.) you should look out for the EU Energy Label which will show you how efficient they are. Appliances are graded from A-G, with A being the most efficient and G the least efficient rating. For fridges and freezers, you can get A+ A++ and A+++ ratings.
4. Be smart with your energy usage
Some of these may seem obvious, and some not so much:
• Turn off the lights you’re not using in other rooms
• Use energy saving light bulbs
• Switch off electrical appliances when you’re not using them (like mobile phone chargers and coffee machines)
• Switch off appliances at the mains instead of using their standby mode
• Screensavers might look pretty, but they don’t save energy. Turn your laptop or desktop computer off or put it in sleep mode.
• Wash your clothes at 30 degrees and for a shorter period. Some machines have an ‘eco’ setting. Not only will you save electricity and water; your clothes will last longer too!
• Here’s an obvious one – don’t leave taps running, even when brushing your teeth.
• Maximise the load of your dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer (try not to use a tumble dryer as they are highly inefficient and use a lot of electricity).
• For those of you that love a brew – try not to overfill the kettle. The kettle will use more energy when trying to heat up a greater volume of water.
5. Warm Home Discount
You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2017 – 2018 under the Warm Discount Scheme. It’s not paid directly to you. Instead, it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill between September and March. You may be eligible for this discount if you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pensions Credit or if you are on low income and meet the energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme. Contact your energy supplier directly to find out more.
6. Pre-payment meters – building up your credit
For those of you that do have pre-payment meters for your gas and electricity, we recommend that you build up your credit over the warmer summer months, when your usage is less. That way you will have built up a nice buffer of credit for the more expensive, colder and darker winter period. Even an extra £5.00 per month will go a long way to keeping your toes warm.
7. Learn how your thermostat really works
It’s important to understand how to use your thermostat in the most energy-efficient way. Here’s three very common, and somewhat costly mistakes people make:
• Cranking up the thermostat when it’s cold outside is not a good idea. A thermostat works to maintain a desired temperature inside your home, regardless of the temperature outside. If you do crank the thermostat up when it’s cold outside – over time you will end up too hot and having wasted a heap of energy and cash in the process.
• Increasing the temperature to heat the room more quickly is just wrong. If you come home to a freezing house it may seem logical to turn up the heat on the thermostat, but that won’t make you feel comfortable any quicker. Your thermostat doesn’t work like your car’s accelerator. In fact, it has no control over the speed at which your home warms up. Quite simply is just sets the final temperature. Setting your thermostat to the max will only achieve an uncomfortably warm house and a sky-high energy bill.
• Keeping the thermostat on constantly, at a low temperature because it is more efficient than turning it on and off – is a myth. When you are out of the house for a period of time, leaving the thermostat on (even at a low temperature) will just waste energy on heating an empty home. It’s far better to programme a thermostat to control the timing of your heating for when you’re actually home – keeping you cosy when you are home, and saving you money when you’re not. However, if it is extremely cold outside, you may wish to leave the thermostat on low to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting.
8. Water saving packs
SaveWaterSaveMoney has joined forces with 20 local water suppliers to provide FREE water saving products to save money on your water bills. We’ve found this useful website where you can enter your postcode and select your water company. See what you can get free by visiting https://www.savewatersavemoney.co.uk/free-water-saving-packs. You could also check directly on your water supplier’s website for more water saving advice, for both inside and outside your home.
9. Switch to a water meter
If you haven’t already, you may wish you consider changing the way you pay for your water. Water meters are widely accepted as the fairest way of charging for water usage – It's simple, you pay for what you use. You really could make some surprising savings, especially if you live alone. Your water supplier should have a water savings calculator to estimate your household usage. Here’s a good one we’ve found provided by Southern Water.
10. Water discount schemes and tariffs
From April 2016, with Government guidance, water suppliers introduced discount schemes and lowered tariffs to help eligible customers in genuine hardship. Those with parental responsibly for a child under five, registered as disabled, aged over 62 years or have a qualifying medical condition may be eligible for water support. Please contact your water supplier directly for further assistance as the schemes and tariffs do vary between suppliers. Southern Water has a WaterSure Tariff for people on low incomes who use a water meter.
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