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How to save money on energy

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

Here are some energy saving tips, to help lower your bills.

Everyday energy saving tips

The first step to saving money on energy is to understand what you’re spending. A smart meter could help if you're able to get one. It tells you how much gas and electricity you’re using in real time. 

If you can't get a smart meter, 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

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 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 £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 waiting until you have a full load of washing.

Hanging clothes to dry where possible, rather than using a tumble dryer, can also save you money.

Laptop or desktop computer?

If you have a desktop computer and a laptop - consider using the 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. 

A laptop can also give you the freedom to move to warmer areas of 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 face much higher bills because of an increase in the energy price cap. The cap is set by the energy regulator Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) and limits the amount suppliers are allowed to charge for gas and electricity in England, Wales and Scotland. There is a separate energy market in Northern Ireland.

From 1 April 2022, the price cap will rise by 54% for about 22 million households. Standard tariffs will go up by £693 a year - from £1,277 to £1,971. This affects customers who are on a default tariff and haven’t switched to a fixed deal. It will also affect those who remain with their new supplier after a previous energy supplier has gone out of business.

People using pre-payment meters face an increase of £708 a year - from £1,309 to £2,017.  

Ofgem says the increase in the energy price cap is because of record rises in global gas prices.

While some of the cheaper deals for energy may no longer be available, it can still be a good idea to compare energy suppliers to make sure you’re on the best deal for you.  

If your previous energy supplier was forced to close down – wait for your account to move over, and the new supplier to contact you, before switching supplier or tariff.

You can read more about what to do in this case on the Citizens Advice website. 

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.

You can get advice on how to do this from Ofgem. 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.

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, you could be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment (between £100 and £300) to help you pay your heating bills.

Energy efficient home improvements

To find out what else you can do – including generating your own renewable energy and other home improvements – read our guide on how to make your home more energy efficient.