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10 ways to save on your utility bills

Posted 23 March 2015

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Trying to keep your household expenditure at an affordable level is tough, so we’ve come up with some tips on how you could reduce your gas, electricity and water bills.

 

If you’re on a strict household budget, some of the biggest expenses you’ll have to manage are your energy and water bills. Gas and electricity can be expensive, so if you’re struggling to afford the cost of your bills, you might look at how you can make your home more energy efficient.

 

However, one of the main problems with home improvements to save energy is that any major changes you have to make to your property usually cost a lot of money, and for people with finances that are already tight, it’s usually unaffordable. Even energy saving grants, like those available from the Green Deal, are hard to come by and usually require you to pay for surveys and part of the work first. So, we’ve put together some easy ways to cut down on your utility bills, without having to spend a lot.

1. Switch to a better deal

A recent study found that while 89% of Brits say that energy efficiency is important to them, just eight in 10 homeowners are actually aware of their home’s energy rating. A lot of us may not bother to check our energy bills, but if you have a look on a comparison site, you might find you could switch to a better deal with another provider. Check out uSwitch or Moneysupermarket and see if you could save on your gas or energy bills. You might be able to get a discount on your current deal if you switch to paperless statements, so look into this too.

2. Do the basic insulation

Getting your loft or cavity wall insulated may be out of your price range, but there are still a few things you could do to stop your home leaking energy. It costs an average of £15 to insulate your hot water tank, saving you around £25 if it’s just a top up job and up to £140 if you didn’t have any insulation to start with. You can also seal the gap between your floor and skirting board, setting you back £10-£15 and saving about £25 a year.

3. Use energy saving bulbs

Energy saving bulbs can shave a few pounds off your electricity bill, with each one saving you around £3 a year. This might not seem worth the amount you’d have to spend on replacing all of the bulbs in your home, so do it gradually instead. Whenever a bulb in your home goes, just replace it with an energy saving one, and you’ll gradually start to see the savings on your energy bill.

4. Keep the doors shut

You can install cheap draught excluders on the bottom of your internal doors to stop any heat escaping from your room, such as this one available from Wilko for £2.50. If you’re staying in one room for a while, make sure you keep the doors shut so you’re not wasting energy, as it’s hard to try and keep warm if you’re letting the cold in.

5. Focus the heat

You don’t need to waste energy trying to heat the whole house if you’re all going to spend the evening sat in the living room. Instead, just focus on heating the key rooms you’re actually going to be using, so you won’t have to use as much energy trying to keep the family toasty.

6. Use appliances frugally

Once you’ve finished watching your TV or making toast for your breakfast, make sure you switch your appliances off at the wall. Even if you’re not using them, having them switched on at the plug can waste money because they could still be using electricity when they’re on standby. You should also try not to use appliances more than you need to … for example, you don’t need to boil the whole kettle full of water if you’re only making a cup of tea for yourself.

7. Don’t block radiators

If you’ve got the radiator on full blast to try and heat your room, don’t waste this by having your sofa or wardrobe in front of it blocking all the warmth. If your furniture blocks any of your radiators, try rearranging your room to make sure you’re getting the most out of your heating system.

8. Turn taps off properly

Whenever you’ve used the tap in your kitchen or bathroom, make sure that you turn it off tightly, so you’re not wasting any water. A single drip from one tap might not seem like much water, but if this is happening all day, every day, and for a few taps in your home, it can easily add up to wasting quite a lot of money.

9. Go for a shower instead of a bath

Unless you’ve got a power shower, jumping in the shower for a few minutes will definitely use less hot water than a bath. Filling a bath up typically takes 80 litres of water, while a five minute shower will only use about 35 litres … meaning if you usually go for a bath every other night, you could be saving quite a lot by switching to showers.

10. Turn down the thermostat

If you’ve got a thermostat installed, you might be overheating your rooms, as they should be set between 18°C and 21°C. By turning it down just 1°C, you could save around £85 a year on your energy bills.

 

These tips can help you save money on your utility bills, but if you’re in arrears to your energy provider, you may want to look at getting more serious help. A debt expert could give you advice on how you can set up a repayment plan, so you’ll be able to make payments that you can afford towards your arrears. If your debts have become more of a problem, you could also get advice about the different debt solutions which may be available to you.

by Shelley Bowers

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.