The 6 best ways to cut your household energy bills
In a previous blog post, we covered the easy low-cost ways to keep your home warmer. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the most effective ways of bringing down your energy bills often take a little investment upfront.
Below we give our checklist of things that you may be able to do to bring your bills down in the long term.
1. Insulate your loft
Heat rises. Loft insulation helps to trap heat that wants to rise up from your house and escape through the roof. If you currently have no loft insulation, you could be losing up to 15% of your heating costs this way.
If you typically pay £1200 per year for energy, that’s £180 per year you’re losing right there.
There’s no excuse, since loft insulation is easy to do yourself and is relatively cheap to buy. The recommended thickness for loft insulation is 270mm. If yours is substantially thinner than that, you might want to get top-up insulation.
While you’re doing that, you could also look at lagging your pipes and water tank – a simple process that can pay for itself in the first year.
2. Upgrade your boiler
If you have an older boiler, there’s no doubt that a new, high-efficiency condensing boiler with modern heating controls can save you a lot of money year on year – up to £650 a year depending on just how old and inefficient your current equipment is. And if you buy from a reliable brand it will cost more upfront, although it will pay back with years of reliable performance.
It’s a sizeable investment, so it’s worth waiting until your existing boiler reaches the point where it is uneconomic to keep repairing. But if, in your heart of hearts, you know that your old system is bleeding money, then it may be time to act.
Even if you’re not in the running for a new boiler, it’s always worth having your existing one serviced every year to keep it running at peak efficiency.
3. Cavity wall insulation
Many houses built since the 1920s have a cavity wall. If you have one of these, and it hasn’t been insulated, you could be saving up to £225 per year for a detached house (£150 semi-detached), because something like a third of all the heat lost from your home is through the walls if they’re not insulated.
Cavity wall insulation should take less than 4 years to pay for itself. A professional installer will inject the insulation through the outer wall to fill the cavity space.
That said, cavity wall insulation does not suit all types of properties, and there have been problems in some parts of the country with damp problems when insulation has been fitted. These have tended to be in places like Wales and the South West where there is typically a high level of “wind-driven rain” – not such a problem here in East Anglia. Nevertheless, you should take proper professional advice on whether your home is suited for cavity wall insulation before proceeding.
4. Switch energy suppliers
Bringing costs down doesn’t always have to involve using less energy, since you can usually find ways to pay less for the energy you use.
If you’ve never switched your gas or electricity supplier, the regulator Ofgem believes you could probably save an average of £100 per year. You can get information on how to switch suppliers at ofgem.gov.uk. There are lots of price comparison websites that can help you identify the cheapest deal based on your current supplier and tariff.
5. Choose energy-efficient appliances [** have images of labels **]
The energy efficiency of many appliances has improved over recent years, but it’s still worth looking out for the energy label on appliances and going for the most efficient you can get. Products in the darkest green category on the label are the most efficient – depending on the type of appliance this might be ‘A’, ‘A+’, ‘A++’ or ‘A+++’.
There are other labels that you might also look out for. The European Ecolabel is almost unknown by the general public, but if a product carries it, it’s considered to be one of the best of its type. Likewise, the blue ‘Energy Saving Trust Recommended’ label can only be used by products in the top fifth of those available.
6. Install smart heating controls
A number of companies now offer more advanced control systems for your heating, so-called smart heating controls. They enable a greater degree of control over temperatures and can use automation to make the most efficient choices for when heating comes on or goes off. You can also make adjustments via your phone if you’re away, so if your plans change you can make sure your heating schedule adapts to suit.
Most of all, take action
Psychologists have shown that, when confronted with too many options, we tend to respond by doing nothing. So it’s worth resolving that this is the year you’re going to take action and then pick just one of the items from the above list – the one that best applies to your current situation – and plan how and when you’re going to find out more about it, and then make the change.
If you think you’re in the running for a new boiler, we’ll happily give you our honest assessment of whether you really need one yet or not. Contact us for a chat.