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10 Feb 2022

Ease the squeeze: how to save on your energy bills

Actions you can take right now to save £100s on gas and electricity

Last week's energy cap announcement revealed millions of households will pay nearly £700 a year more on energy from April. Here's how you can cut your bills today.

Some 22 million people on default tariffs will see energy bill rises of 54% from 1 April this year - part of a growing cost of living crisis. Even if you're on a fixed price tariff, you could find prices are far higher when you come to renew.

The government's £200 repayable 'discount' on bills from October will come too late for some households, and doesn't cover the full £693 increase that many will be forced to pay.

The Which? Money Podcast has talked to people affected by rising bills and heard from experts on what you can do.

Here we've rounded up those tips, dividing them into actions you can take , and , with a verdict from .

And if you can't pay your bills, .

How to save on energy today

The first thing you can do is head over to your thermostat and turn it down. Twisting the dial just one degree could cut your bill by around 10%, according to the Energy Saving Trust (EST). In January, we heard that more than half of consumers have been using less heating to save money.

While you're up, take a look at the appliances you're not using and turn them off at the power if they're on standby. For a typical home, the EST says this could save £55 a year. See our other quick energy saving tips here.

It's worth doing a bit of online research. If you're on a low income or you receive a certain pension credit, you might be eligible for the government's Warm Home Discount - which cuts £140 from your electricity (or in some instances gas) bill between October and March each year.

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, you could also get a Winter Fuel Payment £100 to £300 for the season. Check your eligibility for the Cold Weather Payment, too, whatever your age.

Finally, dig out your paperwork to see whether you're out of contract, or on a default tariff, with your energy supplier.

If you are, see if you can find a cheaper tariff before April's hike takes place (though cheap deals are scarce right now).


What to do if you can't pay your bills

Contact your supplier as soon as possible. It's required to help you come to a solution, such as one of the following:

  • A payment plan, where your debt is divided into manageable repayments, based on your other expenses
  • To pay off your debt directly from your benefits, such as universal credit or pension credit
  • Grants or help through a scheme run by the energy company, such as the British Gas Energy Trust

You can find suppliers contact details and more help with debt in our guide.


How to save on energy this month

Now onto the things that'll take a little longer.

Next time you're doing housework, run all appliances on their 'eco' setting if you don't do so already.

Wash laundry at the lowest temperature you can: we found a 20°C wash can be enough in some cases, particularly if you use liquid detergent. Try to dry clothes on a rack instead of in a tumble dryer; if you do use a dryer, clean its filter first to improve efficiency.

When you next change your lightbulbs, swap any old-style bulbs with energy-saving LED bulbs.

These cost around £7 less a year to run than traditional halogen bulbs. And they last more than ten times longer, so you won't have to buy new ones as often, either.

Other changes you can make to your home include draught-proofing doors and windows. In some cases, this is as simple as buying a draught-excluding cushion and putting it in front of your door.

The EST says draught-proofing could save you £25 a year. This will add up over the years, but if you're more concerned about short-term savings, make sure it doesn't cost you more than you save.

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How to save on energy this year

Finally, these are the tips you can think about trying over a longer period.

When your current energy deal expires one of the most important things you can do is switch energy supplier to get the lowest-priced tariff possible. Though there are fewer cheap deals than previously, it's still worth looking.

You can use our impartial switching service Which? Switch to see what deals are available for your home.

Paying by direct debit, receiving paperless bills and having a smart meter could lead to you being offered lower quotes.

Provided you have the money to buy them, you could save more than £300 a year by switching to energy-efficient household appliances. Getting a new, more efficient tumble dryer, for example, could save you £106. For a fridge freezer it's £76.

If you own your home and have the money for renovation, more extensive insulation is another big investment with a long-term payoff.

Insulating your loft and walls could cut £290 from your bills. But the savings will depend on the size of your home. This calculation was based on people who live in a three-bedroom, semi-detached house.

Is the government doing enough?

Lisa Barber, Which? home products and services editor.

We know people are already struggling to pay their bills due to the rising cost of living.

The government's support measures need to be judged on whether financial help is getting to the most vulnerable. Many more people will be dragged into fuel poverty once prices rise in April, so the government and energy firms should ensure that support reaches those who need it ahead of this.

At Which?, we'll be focusing on the real ways you can make a difference to your cost of living over the coming months - and what government and businesses should be doing to help.

Keep an eye out for more advice from us, and listen to the Which? Money podcast for expert tips and real life stories.