We highlight some of the best ways you can reduce your energy bills this winter, based on clever money-saving tips from Which? members.
Every month, we survey thousands of Which? members to see how they save money on everyday items, bills and bigger purchases. You can see the full range of their money-saving tips by subscribing to Which? Money magazine.
Here’s a selection of some of their best tips on cutting down your energy bills.
Switch energy provider for a cheaper deal
They say loyalty doesn’t pay – and it seems plenty of Which? members have also found this to be the case, and switched energy supplier when their previous provider’s prices have increased.
Some members who had been with the same energy supplier for up to a decade told us that they had made significant annual savings by switching – in some cases in excess of £300 per year.
Of the members we surveyed, some also told us they’d signed up to a ‘time-of-use’ energy tariff such as Economy 7, where you pay less for your electricity during the night than during the day. This means that you can save money by only using appliances such as your washing machine and dishwasher at night, during the off-peak hours.
If you’ve been with your energy supplier for a while, find out if you could save money on your annual energy bills using our free service Which? Switch.
We can help you find the right tariff, provide impartial energy advice and help you switch for free. On average we have helped people save £301 on their annual bill.
If you’re happy with your energy supplier, you can still make savings on your bill with some providers by switching to direct debit payments.
Save money on bills with these quick and easy changes
Little things can make a big difference when it comes to energy reduction. One member told us that he had switched to LED light bulbs, fitted a plug-in timer for his freestanding heaters and switched off non-essential appliances like his microwave and printer overnight rather than leaving them on standby.
Being careful with heating has helped some members reduce their energy bills, too. For example, reducing room temperatures by just 1ºC can cut heating bills by up to £85-£90 a year in a typical home, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
If it’s time to replace one of your appliances, be sure to use our energy costs calculator to compare the running costs of different dishwashers, fridges, freezers and washer-dryers before you decide which brand and model to buy.
Installing a smart meter or using an energy monitor has helped some members save further on their energy bills.
An energy monitor is a simple handheld gadget that costs around £25 and estimates in real time how much energy you’re using, so you can see where to cut back.
Remote heating controls such as Hive from British Gas can also give you greater control with scheduling your heating from a smartphone or a computer.
Find out more: energy monitor reviews and smart thermostats
Use solar panels to generate energy
Only a small minority of members we surveyed have invested in solar panels. Of those that have, most felt it was worthwhile despite the fact that solar panels take some time to pay for themselves.
In addition to receiving bill reductions in exchange for generating electricity and exporting the excess back to the National Grid, you’ll receive a feed-in tariff (FIT).
The FIT basically pays you in return for having solar panels on your roof. It guarantees cash payments to households that generate their own electricity using renewable technology.
The government is planning to cut the FIT rate for small domestic solar PV installations by 87% from 1 January 2016. This means that if you install solar panels from 2016 onwards, you’ll only get 1.63p per kWH of electricity generated instead of the current rate of 12.92p. So if you’re considering getting solar PV panels, we recommend you get them now.
Find out more: read our online guide to solar panels
Be energy efficient
Making sure your home is well insulated is a cost-effective measure that can help shave money off your bills. The best ways to insulate your home include installing double glazing, adding loft insulation, insulating under-floor pipes and installing cavity wall insulation.
Replacing a boiler (though obviously not cheap at the time) has also helped some members reduce their energy bills in the long run, as modern boilers tend to be more efficient than older models.
Find out more: discover what our tests have revealed to be the Best Buy boilers