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How to save money on energy

More and more households are going green. But energy efficiency isn’t just about doing your bit for the environment – it can also save you money.

Here are some tips on how you could start making your home more energy efficient straight away without spending much – or anything at all.

As well as these small-scale energy saving ideas, there are also bigger home improvement projects you could think about.

Everyday energy saving tips

The first step to saving money on energy is to understand what you’re spending. That's why a smart meter could help if you were able to get one, because it tells you how much gas and electricity you’re using in real time. 

Even without that, you can check your bills and compare your usage to the expected usage for similar households.

Once you’ve worked out how much energy you’re using – and how much it’s costing you – there are plenty of quick wins that might help you reduce it. For example, you could use:

  • timers for electrical devices

  • dimmer switches for lighting

  • low-energy light bulbs

  • smart thermostats

The Energy Saving Trust has guidance on thermostats and heating controls.

Other simple steps could help, such as not leaving gadgets on standby and using draught excluders to keep your home warm. 

Sometimes, you might be able to make savings just by making better choices in the home, for example:

Shower or bath?

The Energy Saving Trust says a family of 4 could save about £75 a year on their gas bill if they fitted a water efficient shower head. And if they all swapped a bath once a week for a 5-minute shower, it could save up to a further £20 a year.

High or low temperature washing?

Avoid putting your washing machine onto a higher setting. Most detergents work perfectly well at lower temperatures like 30 degrees. You could save money by using an eco-wash setting and also waiting until you have a full load of washing.

And try to dry clothes on a line, or rack, rather than using a tumble dryer where possible.

Laptop or desktop computer?

If you have a desktop computer, try to avoid using it if you can use a laptop instead. Laptops typically use a lot less power, according to the Energy Saving Trust, so this could make a big energy saving if you're working from home, as has become the norm for many people. 

A laptop can also give you the freedom to work wherever you want in your home, so there's no need to feel tempted to turn up the heating if you're in a cold room.

Energy price cap rise

Millions of households have seen their bills go up because of an increase in the energy price cap.

The cap is set by the energy regulator Ofgem and limits how much suppliers are allowed to charge for gas and electricity.

On 1 April 2021, the price cap rose by £96 for 11 million households who are on their supplier's default tariff and by £87 for 4 million customers on pre-payment meters.

Ofgem says consumers can still save up to £150 by shopping around. Read on to learn more about finding a better deal on energy.

Switching energy supplier

According to research by the consumer group Which?, switching energy supplier is one of the most straightforward ways many of us could save money.

It says 11 million households are on a standard or default tariff but could save around £330 in a year by switching to the cheapest available deal.

You can get advice on how to do this from Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets). It has a list of accredited price comparison websites as well as tips on how to shop around.

Citizens Advice also has a guide to switching energy supplier, which includes guidance on what to do if you’re a tenant or in debt.

And MoneySavingExpert has launched an autoswitch service, which means you can choose to switch automatically every year to the cheapest deal.

Government support

If you’re struggling with heating costs, you might qualify for government support. 

The Warm Home Discount Scheme means you could get a winter discount on your heating bills if you receive Pension Credit or are on a low income.

The Government intends to extend the scheme to the winter of 2021-2022.

Energy efficient home improvements

For some bigger projects, you may need to invest a decent amount of money.

The government’s Green Homes Grant scheme has now ended.

Find out how to redeem a voucher if you applied for one before the deadline.

What next?

If you’re still not sure where you might be able to save money on energy, the government-backed Simple Energy Advice website has a useful energy efficiency calculator you can use.