That moment when you get your winter energy bill – for many of us, it's a nasty shock year after year. You definitely remember being careful about how much you put the heating on, but the bill is still much higher than you'd expected. What measures will you take to stop overpaying for gas and electricity?
A recent poll by Samsung (opens in new tab), in conjunction with it's free to use home energy control service, Samsung SmartThings Energy Control (opens in new tab), is showing that when it comes to saving energy, we're still turning to measures that are either uncomfortable, ineffective, or worse – will actually increase bills. It turns out that the most popular energy-saving trick is still putting on lots of jumpers and sleeping with socks on (favoured by 65 per cent and 40 per cent of respondents respectively); 14 per cent of people use electric blankets to keep warm, while eight per cent leave the oven on for longer than needed to heat their home.
The fact is, jumpers and socks will only keep you warm up to a point; eventually, the ambient temperature in your house will just be too uncomfortable to sit in. Moreover, never having the heating on will encourage damp and mould. And electric blankets and leaving the oven on? These will actually increase your energy spending. You can also forget about wrapping your radiators in foil, hairdryers, and other questionable methods. Instead, follow these tips, which have been backed up by the Energy Saving Trust.
1. Switch your energy supplier
Firstly, consider switching your energy supplier. Millions of people in the UK are still on standard energy tariffs, which means they're overpaying by £200-odd a year for no reason at all. Nor does staying loyal to your current supplier necessarily pay dividends, because when your fixed energy deal ends, they'll most likely put you on a more expensive tariff. So, be aware of the tariff you're on and use our energy comparison tool to see if you could save by switching for free.
2. Turn down your thermostat by one degree
Another energy saving method that's completely free. You won't feel the difference, but your energy bill will go down, by an average of £75 a year, which can easily be a third of your winter bill. It's much more efficient over time to lower the temperature a tiny bit overall and putting the boiler on timer rather than trying to keep the heating off and then putting it on full blast when you can no longer stand the cold.
Also consider getting a smart thermostat – they can hep you be more aware of how much energy you're using and control your heating more effectively.
3. Replace all your lightbulbs with LED ones
This is another way to save on energy bills that's great for the longer term. LEDs have a much, much longer lifespan than traditional bulbs – as long as 25 years compared with just two years. However, LEDs will also give you financial returns almost immediately, because they consume up to 90 per cent less energy than traditional light bulbs. An LED light bulb costs less than £2 to run a year; a halogen bulb – around £8 a year. If you consider that an average household has around 35 light bulbs, the difference is obvious. Right now, you can get a pack of six LEDs (opens in new tab) for under £10 on Amazon.
4. Get an energy-efficient boiler
it's true that you have to spend money to save money with this tip, but it is guaranteed to pay off. Installing an A-rated boiler will save you on average £315 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Although a new boiler will cost a lot – between £800 and £1000 depending on exact type and installation costs, this is a long-term investment that will recoup your spend in about three years' time and continue saving you money for many years.
Find out which boiler to buy in our guide.
5. Improve home insulation
This is the most expensive option, but again, it's guaranteed to bring financial returns over time, potentially saving you many hundreds of pounds a year if you go for floor, wall, and loft insulation. Just insulating your walls will save you around £300 a year. And right now, you can apply for a Green Homes Grant to help you with the costs of home insulation. If you're a home owner, you should definitely give it a good thought.