Feeling the crunch? You’re not alone. Energy bills are set to skyrocket in October 2022, as the energy cap increases and Ofgem predicts household gas and electricity bills to hit an eye-watering £3,549 annual rate.
But don’t panic: there are things you can do to reduce your consumption and your stress right now, and prepare for the upcoming hikes. Here are some of the most practical solutions to save money and our energy saving tips.
1. Reduce your energy consumption
It might be obvious, but reduce energy consumption as much as possible will help lower your bills. You’d be surprised how many people leave lights on, or overfill the kettle and changing habits to be energy efficient is worth doing. Your washing machine and dishwasher have an eco mode for a reason.
You won’t be able to avoid increased charges completely, as standing charges (the fixed amount that you pay on your energy bill every day, regardless of usage) are rising as well as unit charges (what you pay for actual usage).
But what you should do is establish what is essential use, and check with a smart meter real time mode what devices are costing you to run. This personally helped me last year realise that underfloor heating was coming on too early due to the cold kitchen temperature and on another occasion that a oil heater had been left on.
Switch appliances off at the walls overnight, and have a “Wi-Fi-free” day to unplug from social media as well as save electricity. Hang wet clothes outside or on clothes horses instead of the tumble dryer, wash clothes and dishes at a lower temperature, and turn down your thermostat: even a couple of degrees will help. Washing and tumble drying costs around £2, which can vastly increase those bills.
It’s also worth ensuring your central heating system is working efficiently and all radiators are bled, plus set a limit on shower time.
If you want to calculate what your electrical items cost you, the manuals give you specific running power.
2. Use your oven less
The oven is one of the most power-hungry appliances in the kitchen. As food prices rise as well as energy costs, you may be considering cooking more meals from scratch: but bear in mind that using your whole oven to cook one or two meals a day could dramatically increase your energy usage.
It might be time to dig out the old air fryer from the back of the cupboard. In a recent study, using an air fryer saved 26 minutes in time and cost 22p less than a standard convection oven. Be creative with meals using other household appliances such as toastie makers, soup makers, and slow cookers or bulk cook to make the most of it.
You can whip up a variety of cheap, healthy meals without your oven: from slow cooker casseroles to skillet pasta, stir fries and more.
3. Find out if there’s help you can get
There is help available if you’re struggling to cover your costs of living. One of the best ways to save money is always to investigate if you’re eligible for extra help.
The Energy Bills Support Scheme is a government initiative which will give every household an extra £400 towards energy bills. You don’t need to do anything to get the money, and you don’t have to pay it back. It will come in instalments of £66 in October and November, and £67 in December, January, February and March 2023.
If you’re the one who pays council tax in your household, you can also get a £150 rebate towards energy bills. You’ll get the rebate if you pay council tax and your home is in council tax bands A to D. Visit this link for more information.
Don’t forget, if you’re on benefits, you’re eligible for a Warm Home Discount of £150 off your electricity bill or £150 added to your prepayment meter. And if you were born on or before 25 September 1956, you can also get the Winter Fuel Payment worth up to £300.
4. Check for local warm banks
Warm banks are to be set up across the country, where people can go to stay warm without heating their home. Public spaces such as libraries, community centres and churches are set to switch on their heating and welcome hundreds of people in need.
It’s a devastating reality, but local warm banks could become a lifeline if you find yourself struggling this winter with heating bills. Not only could you go to your local library or church to stay warm, you’ll be able to socialise and enjoy activities like reading or crafting with others, and depending on the venue’s Wi-Fi capability you may even be able to work remotely.
Even if an official warm bank is not set up in your area, visiting the local library or coffee shop for a few hours could help cut your energy bills.
5. Use blankets, socks and extra layers
If you’ve been enjoying the latest heatwave, thick fluffy socks will be the furthest thing from your mind. But if you stock up now, you’ll thank yourself later on.
Wearing extra layers such as a thermal vest, shirt and a jumper on top will actually keep you warmer as heat gets trapped in the layers of fabric. Adorn your couches with throws and blankets to pile on top of you while you watch TV, and enjoy a hot cup of cocoa in your new nest without the central heating on.
Adding a quilt to your bed will also keep the heat in, especially if you also use a hot water bottle at night.
Did you learn to knit or crochet over COVID lockdowns? Keep up your hobby and create some beautiful warm woolly socks for yourself and to give to loved ones.
6. Rethink how you use rooms
Home heating will become a bigger concern in October with the double whammy of increased tariffs and colder weather. It’s simply not fair that people will have to decide to eat or heat. One of the holy grails of saving energy bills, is getting on the best combi boilers on the market. This is because, modern combi boilers have energy saving technology but obviously needs an initial outlay that will take a while to pay it back.
If you have a spare bedroom, box room, or even a converted attic space, it might be time to move the TV. Heat rises in homes, which is why your loft space is usually toasty (as long as you have good insulation – which is a must!).
Forego the big, spacious living room, switch off radiators there (and in empty rooms) if you can and create a cosy nook upstairs to unwind and relax in. Not only will it be warmer naturally, but the smaller room will be cheaper to heat. If this room has windows, add a thermal layer to your curtains and open them in the daytime to let the sun warm up the room.
As a final note, do NOT resort to “unorthodox” methods to heat your home. Firefighters are already reporting an uptick in domestic fires as people try to mess with electrics and gas pipes, or heat their home with fires.
If you have a wood burner or fireplace, make sure chimneys are swept and you use the proper fuel. Only use candles in an emergency, and always put them on a stable surface away from anything flammable. Never leave an open flame unattended. Safety is always more important!
If you are planning on using wood, it’s all increasing in price so you should stock up now.