There are many reasons to look forward to the winter months in the UK, with celebrations and events surrounding Halloween, bonfire night, Diwali, Christmas and New Year happening all over the country. While there are many things to focus on as the weather gets colder, many dread this time of year due to the unavoidable increase in electricity and gas bills.
Household energy bills have been rising in cost in real terms for the last 7 years, with a general overall rise in prices happening over the last 20-30 years. Many families on low incomes or who have unstable incomes often have to choose between ‘heating or eating’, and this has likely directly affected the rise in food bank use across the UK.
The government have recently stepped in to create a bill which will cap energy prices to ensure people do not get stuck with deals where prices are highly inflated. It is thought that the price cap could help many families save around £100 per year. Of course, there is legislative process to go through first before the bill is passed, and this may take some time. It is thought that it should take affect at the beginning of 2019 at the earliest, so costs are unlikely to change straight away.
During the winter, the dark cold evenings mean more electricity is used as people hunker down away from the elements. The heating is put on, and there is generally more clothing to wash as we layer up to keep the frosty temperatures out. All of this can impact the amount of electricity and gas used by any household, and while you may not be able to prevent your bills rising a little, there are ways you can keep the costs down and avoid a nasty shock when your bill arrives. Here are our top 5 tips to help you get through the next few months without spending over and above what you need to:
Whether you’ve switched energy suppliers recently or have been with the same company for years, you may be surprised at how much you could save on your typical electricity and gas bills. Remember – if you rent your property you’re still within your rights to switch suppliers. Many are not aware that they do not have to stick with the same company that their landlord or the previous tenants chose.
You can compare energy tariffs easily online using websites such as uSwitch or Money Saving Expert’s Cheap Energy Club. Changing your tariff can save up to £300 per year and as deals for new customers are changing all the time, switching regularly can be in your interests.
Use technology to your advantage
Domestic technology is coming on at an alarming rate, and you may well not be aware of all the different tech tools out there which can help you keep your energy bills low. Most energy providers have a free app available for your phone or tablet, which can help you keep a close eye on your energy usage, for instance. This can be an invaluable tool which you hold in the palm of your hand, and it doesn’t cost a thing.
You can also remotely control your thermostat or lights if you have the right set up, and this can be achieved in a number of ways. At the most basic level, you can buy timer plugs which will switch off certain appliances and lights at a certain time, helping you to regulate your usage.
Wrap up warm
It’s tempting to put the heating on - or turn it up - if you feel cold, and while this is fine in certain circumstances, it’s always worth trying to warm yourself up in an alternative fashion first. Putting on more layers, taking the dog for a brisk walk or doing something physical like cleaning or decorating can really make a difference to your core temperature and save you cranking the heating up. If you have a garden, sitting around a fire pit or similar in the evening can keep you really warm, and it’s also a great excuse to toast some marshmallows with friends and family – what many would consider the perfect winter evening. If you don’t have the opportunity to have an open fire inside, there are online channels which can allow you to turn your TV into a roaring open fire – just the sight of this alone can be warming when you’re tempted to turn up the thermostat.
Change your habits
Instead of doing your clothes washing at the weekend or during the day, you may find that you save on your bills by setting the washing machine to turn on during the night. Energy is cheaper at night, when hardly anyone is using it and creating demand, so you could save a significant amount on your bills by simply changing up your routine. Most modern appliances will have a timer function which you can set so that they turn on at a certain time, or alternatively you can use timer plugs.
Look at how you cook your food as another energy saving technique. You may find that investing in a slow cooker or similar can reduce your overall energy bill. It may also be worth thinking ahead, and if you’re putting the oven on for something, why not fill it with other foods which can then be frozen for another time? Streamlining your routine can make all the difference.
Draught-proof your home
One of the worst problems in UK homes is draughts and poor insulation, although newer buildings are markedly improved on this front. Even if you can’t afford to replace your windows and doors with super energy efficient options, draught excluders, window film and heavy curtains can make all the difference. Feeling cosy and warm is something we all want over the winter, and that’s difficult to do when you’ve got a chilly breeze blowing through your living room. Use blankets and soft furnishings to create ‘heat sinks’ in your home, which will hold onto warmer temperatures and release them over time. It’s also very easy to insulate your roof space yourself if it isn’t already, which can make a huge difference, as a quarter of heat is lost through the roof of an uninsulated home.