Gas and electricity bills now represent the third largest outgoing in the majority of UK households, at a combined average of around £1,400 per year. This figure has doubled since 2006, when the typical home in Britain had an annual energy bill somewhere in the region of £600 – £700. Significant factors behind this trend – such as the wholesale price of gas on the international energy markets – may be beyond your control, but there are still a number of things that you can do to cut down on your utility bills.
All of these measures are fairly straightforward, and most require little or no financial investment. One of quickest and easiest tactics is to take advantage of the price comparison websites that have made it so easy to shop around for everything from home insurance and car insurance to mobile phone tariffs. Energy comparison site uSwitch report that there is as much as a £300 per year difference between the best and worst tariffs on the market, so even if you have changed supplier fairly recently, it is worth having a look at how things stand now in what is often a rapidly changing market.
You may also be able to get a better deal from your existing supplier, simply by changing the way that you manage your account and pay the bills. Some of the best deals around are offered to online customers who opt for paperless billing, while simply switching from cash or cheque payments to a direct debit can cut as much as £100 per year from the average bill.
Using the heating slightly less, and putting on a few more clothes may be a less sophisticated solution, but the savings can be quite dramatic – turning down the thermostat just one degree, from 20 to 19 Celsius, can knock up to 10% off your annual heating bill. Other common sense energy saving measures, such as only boiling the amount of water that you need in the kettle, and keeping windows and doors closed all add up over the year to bring down energy expenditure, as can fitting draft excluders on doors, and keeping curtains tightly shut overnight.
In the average UK household, lighting accounts for about 19% of the electricity bill. Switching to energy saving bulbs, which use 80% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, can save around £55 per year, with each energy saving bulb producing savings of £120 during its ten year lifespan. Even if you have already made this change, simply switching off the lights when you leave a room is an easy energy saving habit that will make a difference to your energy spend over time.
Making sure that your home is properly insulated can cost a bit more upfront, but the savings on your energy bills will soon meet this cost – the Energy Saving Trust reports that £175 per year can be saved by putting in adequate loft insulation, while cavity wall insulation can produce an annual saving of about £135. Installing double glazing can also cut £165 off your yearly bill, although it can be expensive – but there is a budget alternative. ‘Double glazing film’, which is basically industrial strength cling film you can apply to your window frames, costs less than £10 a roll (which can cover 6m2), producing a significant increase in the insulation of a home with single glazing, for a fraction of the price of fitting new windows.
This information was provided to you by Allianz Your Cover (www.yourcoverinsurance.co.uk).