Save money on your energy bills
None of us wants to pay more for our energy than we have to. But saving money doesn’t mean we should use less energy than we need – it’s important to have enough light and warmth to stay safe and comfortable at home.
How can I get a better energy deal?
See what other deals your supplier offers
You may be paying too much for your energy. Many people are on their supplier’s standard tariff, which is unlikely to be the best deal.
Your supplier will offer a range of tariffs, some of which may work out cheaper for you. Your bills and other statements should give you some possible cheaper options, or you can call your supplier to ask.
It is also important to give regular meter readings for accurate bills, check your bills for accuracy and raise any concerns with your supplier.
Check how you’re paying
Are you paying your energy bills in the most cost-effective way? Most suppliers offer a discount if you pay by direct debit instead of cash or cheque. Paperless billing, where you manage your account online instead of receiving bills in the post, may also work out cheaper.
Only change your payment method if you know this would work for you. Many people like having paper bills, and direct debits that are fixed can lead to you overpaying or underpaying for your energy.
Switch supplier to get a better deal
You may save more money in this way if you switch energy supplier. You can use an Ofgem-accredited Price Comparison Website to help you compare deals across a range of suppliers. Many of these websites have a telephone service you can use if you’re not online.
Speak to someone if you’re in difficulty
If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, speak to your supplier as soon as you can. They'll let you know how they can help you avoid getting into debt.
If you're already in debt, you may be able to agree on a repayment plan to pay your arrears or have a prepayment meter installed.
If you do not want to deal directly with your supplier, you can ask an adviser to contact them on your behalf.
Should I get a prepayment meter?
Prepayment meters let you pay as you go for your gas or electricity. You can top up your meter using a key or card, which you can add money to at local shops.
When smart prepayment meters start being used, it will be possible to top up by phone.
Prepayment meters have some benefits. They can:
- help you budget more effectively, as you decide when to top up and by how much
- be used to pay off money owed to your energy company
In addition, a temporary cap has been brought in to limit the prices paid by prepayment customers. This means many prepayment tariffs will be cheaper than in the past.
However, there are downsides to prepayment meters, such as:
- prepayment deals may still be more expensive than the best deals for standard meters
- the nearest place you can top up may not be close to your home
- if you don’t have money to add, there won’t be any gas or electricity.
If you want a prepayment meter, contact your supplier to find out how. They may charge around £50 to remove the current meter and install a new one. Some suppliers have their own conditions – for example, that you have a current account or have been debt-free for at least three months.
If you're a tenant, see what your agreement says about making changes to your home.
What simple changes can I make to cut my energy bills?
Follow these quick and easy steps to make sure you’re not wasting money on your energy bills:
In every room
- Turn lights off when you leave a room, but not at the expense of your safety. Keep stairs and other areas well lit to reduce the risk of falling. You could save £14 a year just by turning off the lights when they don't need them on.
- By changing from traditional light bulbs to new LED bulbs, you could save between £3 and £6 a year per bulb, depending on the type of bulb you replace.
- Switch appliances off when they're not in use rather than leaving them on standby. This can save around £30 a year.
- Keep radiators and heaters clear so hot air can circulate. Don’t forget to draw your curtains and tuck them behind radiators to minimise heat loss.
- Make sure doors and windows are draught-proofed to avoid loss of heat. Fit draught-proofing strips and draught excluders around doors, sealing gaps around window frames and fitting covers to letterboxes and keyholes. This can save you around £25 a year.
- Use your heating controls, such as thermostats and timers, to heat your home without wasting energy.
In your living room
- If you’re buying a new television, think about the size of the screen. In general, the smaller your television, the less it will cost to run. Plasma televisions also use more electricity than other TVs.
- Many new appliances come with an energy rating. You should choose the best energy rating you can.
- Make sure you keep your living room (or the room you use most) warm during the day while you’re at home at 21°C (70°F) and heat your bedroom to 18°C (64°F) before you go to bed. If there are rooms you don’t use, like a spare bedroom, turn off the radiators in them and close the doors.
In the kitchen
- Do the washing-up in a bowl rather than under running water to save around £25 per year. And only boil the amount of water you need for hot drinks.
- Wait until you have a full load before running the washing machine, rather than using the half-load setting. By doing one wash less a week, you could save around £5 a year.
- Run the washing machine at a lower temperature too – you can often do everyday washes at 30°C. Washing clothes at 30°C uses around 40% less electricity over a year than washing at higher temperatures.
- Defrost your freezer every six months - this will ensure it runs efficiently.
In the bathroom
- Shower instead of taking a bath. A short shower can use a third of the amount of water needed for a bath. If you prefer taking baths, consider filling the tub slightly less – the average full bath uses 80 litres of water.
- Fix any dripping taps. A dripping tap can waste the equivalent of half a bath a week. If you’re on a water meter, a dripping tap could cost an extra £15 per year.
Reduce your bill
Your energy supplier may be able to offer you a discount if you are on certain benefits too.
Use the online benefits calculator to find out much money could you claim.
Some larger energy saving changes you can make
There are larger measures that will make a bigger difference to the comfort of your home. Your home will become warmer more quickly, and will stay warmer for longer. You will also waste less energy, which puts money back in your pocket and helps the environment.
- If you have no loft insulation, installing 270mm of new insulation could save around £135 a year. Most homes have some loft insulation but often not enough. Topping up your loft insulation will make your home warmer and save you money on your energy bills.
- If your home has cavity walls (a space between the inner and outer layers of brick) the gap can be insulated. Insulating your cavity walls will make your home feel warmer and in a typical home cavity wall insulation can save around £150 a year.
- Double glazing reduces heat loss as well as noise from outside. You could save up to £80 per year in heating bills if you install it throughout your home. You can choose to double glaze the rooms you use and heat most often to keep installation costs down.
Larger measures can be expensive to carry out, but financial help may be available. The larger energy suppliers are part of a scheme, called the Energy Company Obligation, that may be able to fund or part-fund the work. You can get help from any participating supplier, they don’t have to supply your energy.
Your local Home Improvement Agency or Home Energy Scotland may be able to advise you on making energy efficiency changes to your home or offer a handyperson service to make small improvements such as draught-proofing.
What is a smart meter and will I get one?
Smart meters record exactly how much gas or electricity you use and automatically send regular readings to your energy company. This means you won’t have to take meter readings any more and should get accurate bills (although it’s still a good idea to check that your bills match the amount of energy you’ve used).
Smart meters come with a small, easy-to-use device (known as an in-home display unit), which sits in your home and allows you to see how much energy you’re using in kilowatt hours (kWh) and how much it’s costing you in pounds and pence.
What should I do next?
Call the Energy Saving Trust advice service on 0300 123 1234 for independent advice on energy saving and getting financial help
Use the online benefits calculator to find out much money could you claim.
Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.