How to Reduce your Energy Bills. Forever.
Energy prices in the UK are at an all-time high. In fact, we are currently paying more to heat our homes and businesses than anywhere else in Europe and the price of gas and electricity has doubled in recent years. As these prices look set to continue, it’s no wonder that we need to start looking at new ways to cut our bills, now and for the future.
So why are we paying so much for our gas and electricity?
There’s no denying that we are paying through the nose for our energy, but why are prices so high at the moment? It’s easy to blame the major suppliers (and the big six energy companies certainly do hold a monopoly over the market) but they claim as much as 85% of what they charge is out of their control, citing supply and demand problems, investment in The National Grid, rising transportation costs, taxes and expensive energy efficiency projects as the main culprits.
Supply is certainly a major issue at the moment. North Sea gas reserves are running low for example, and Britain, once a major gas exporter, is now relying more and more on expensive overseas imports. With gas this is most commonly from Norway or Qatar. The National Grid is also undergoing major improvements to ensure that demand can be met for the foreseeable future, which is also an expensive undertaking. And hitting the Government’s energy efficiency targets to reduce emissions and invest in renewable energy is also costly for the energy companies. With these expenses getting passed on to our bills, it’s no wonder we see them rising every month.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Organizations such as The Citizens Advice Bureau, The National Right to Fuel Campaign and Ofgem, the industry regulator, are all backing schemes to put pressure on our energy providers to stop above inflation price rises and improve customer investment. For example, Ofgem have set targets (with hefty fines for non-compliance) to cut carbon dioxide emissions and improve energy efficiency in our homes and offices. This could see reductions to our bills through being offered free loft insulation or a fixed energy price deal.
Tips to permanently reduce bills
So what can you do to reduce these high bills?
There are two main areas that all homes and businesses can address: How to save money on the energy being used and how to use less energy in the first place.
Cutting Energy Use
If you consider that the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use, here are a few simple tips to help you reduce your energy consumption:
- Insulation. Adding layers of insulation to your attic, loft, walls, around doors and around your boiler will prevent heat from escaping. This is a relatively cheap and hassle free process and grants are available to help with the costs.
- Don’t waste energy! This may seem like a simple rule, but how many of us are guilty of leaving the lights on when we go out? Also, just by turning the heating down in your property by 2°F, you could cut your bills by 10%.
- Offices in particular may benefit from installing a Smart Meter. This tracks energy consumption in easy to read reports, so you can see where energy is being wasted and address the problem quickly.
- Switch to energy saving light bulbs and appliances (look for energy rating labels).
- If your contract charges more for energy at peak times, which is usually the case with certain commercial buildings, try to carry out energy draining work at night when electricity is cheaper, such as using a washing machine or a dishwasher.
- Regular maintenance, like changing filters, of air conditioning and heating systems will maximize efficiency and reduce your bills.
But what about the energy you do use?
- Don’t feel obliged to stay with one provider. Shop around for deals, dual fuel offers and fixed price tariffs. This can save you a fortune if you are prepared to put in the leg work. Remember to look for extra savings by paying direct debit or managing your account online.
- Invest in renewable energy. The importance of renewable energy in the fight to control utility bills shouldn’t be under estimated. Not only can this save you money, but you are investing in a clean and reliable energy source which will never run out. The most common ways of doing this is by installing small wind turbines, biomass boilers or solar panels. Primarily, it is solar panels which are becoming an increasing attractive option for homes as well as business premises. As an incentive, the Government offers grants to help with the initial costs of purchasing and installing the panels (which can be costly) and then you can benefit from drastically reduced bills each month. Not only do solar panels work in cloudy conditions (so they are surprisingly efficient in the UK) there is a feed in tariff which could actually see you being paid for any energy you generate above what you need. This is fed back into the National Grid and you are paid for your contribution as well as what you need for personal use.
So by acting now, and thinking creatively, there are many ways that you can save on your energy bills, despite the rising prices.
Sarah Stewart has written this article on behalf of Solar Strategies Ltd. Specialists of Solar PV Systems.