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With the days getting shorter, the weather getting colder and Christmas edging ever closer, it’s time to start thinking about your energy bills and how to save money over the winter.
If the forecasters are to believed we could be in for a cold winter this year – but even though we’re forced to have the central heating on for months it doesn’t mean we have to pay through the teeth to keep warm.
Below we’ve outlined some useful tips to help you stay warm and save money on your energy bills this winter, starting with a rather obvious one…
Switch to a cheaper energy supplier/tariff…
We all know that there are cheaper energy tariffs out there, but it’s surprising how few of us actually take advantage of them. It may be one of those things you plan to sort out later, but never manage to ‘find the time’. But the truth is, switching energy suppliers is a very quick and simple thing – it’s the same pipes, gas, meter etc… the only difference is the price.
Now winter is approaching and the weather is turning it’s the perfect time to switch before your home energy use ramps up.
To help you out, we’ve teamed up with Uswitch so all you have to do is enter your postcode below to see how much you can save on your gas and/or electric…
Another incentive to switch now is that energy price hikes are expected this winter. Some smaller energy suppliers have already started to increase their prices due to the drop in the value of the pound and the increase in the energy wholesale price.
Industry predictions suggest that the ‘Big 6’ energy firms (British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, nPower, Scottish Power and SSE) will follow suit and raise their prices in early 2017 at the latest – so if you are on a fixed deal and do not switch soon you could well end up paying more if you don’t switch.
Switch without switching…
Although switching provider is very simple, you may want to save the (minimal) hassle and stick to your current energy supplier. If you do, you can still save money by moving over to their cheapest deal.
It may seem a bit odd that exactly the same gas/electric you use could come cheaper, but a lot of energy firms charge different rates depending on what tariff you are on. Unsurprisingly, the ‘standard tariffs’ that most people are on are the most expensive – so make sure you take the time to check and make sure there’s not a cheaper deal available to you with your current energy supplier.
Don’t leave the heating on low all day…
It’s a bit of a myth that in winter you should keep you’re heating on low all day. Both The Energy Saving Trust and British Gas have both stated recently that the best way to save energy, and therefore money, is to only turn your heating on when you need it.
Using a timer is the best bet, especially as your thermostat is designed to turn your heating system on and off in order to maintain the right temperature at all times.
If you’re particularly worried about it getting to cold inside, set the timer to come on slightly earlier so that the house will be nice and toasty when needed but you’re not pumping out energy all day.
Set different temperatures for different rooms…
Think a bit more cleverly about which rooms you need to heat, and which ones will get away with less. For example, your kitchen is likely to warm up a lot while you’re cooking, so it probably doesn’t need to be heated to the same level as your living room.
Similarly, a spare room that is rarely used can probably not be heated at all. Research from the Energy Saving Trust suggests that you can save up to £80 per year just by turning your heating down by one degree Celsius, so managing each room’s temperature a bit better can net a lot of savings.
It’s also worth being disciplined when it comes to keeping your doors and windows closed. A lot of heat can obviously be lost through open windows, but also through open doors between rooms in the house.
Wash your clothes at 30 degrees…
According to the Energy Saving Trust, setting your washing machine to wash at 30 degrees rather than higher temperatures means you use up to 40% less energy – which adds up to big savings on energy costs over the course of winter.
Most modern washing machines and all the major detergent brands now proudly state they work just as well at lower temperatures, so this one really is a no-brainer these days.
You should remember to do a hot wash every now and then though (one a month or so) to keep your washer clean.
Unplug your gadgets…
Our houses these days seem to be full of different gadgets and devices, all of which are currently sucking up needless energy while being left plugged into the mains. TV’s, DVD players, laptops, tablets, games consoles, speakers etc… are all using energy while they sit in standby mode – so turn the plug socket off when they are not in use.
Perhaps the biggest culprit for this is mobile phones, particularly when they are left to charge overnight. You would be hard-pressed to find a mobile phone that takes anywhere near eight hours to charge, so leaving it to charge while you sleep is a massive waste of energy.
A lot of the more modern smartphones now feature ‘fast charging’ and can charge within an hour or so – so work out a new routine to charge your phone during the day.
Wrap up warmer indoors…
No-one expects you to don your winter coat, scarf and wooly hat while you’re trying to relax at home, but making a conscious effort to wear an extra layer or a jumper can help you keep the heating down and save money.
The same applies for your duvet. Switch to a thicker one with a higher tog rating when you notice the mornings getting a bit chillier, rather than going straight to turning the central heating up.