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Home & garden.

18 November 2021

10 ways to save on energy bills

Save hundreds of pounds on your energy bill with our expert tips. We reveal ways to save electricity and gas and reduce your carbon footprint by making your home more energy efficient.
Sarah Ingrams

From reviewing your energy tariff to cutting the amount of gas and electricity you use, our advice will help you to save money and make your home more comfortable. 

Some of our top tips take no longer than a few minutes – so you can get started on cutting your energy bill today. 

Keep reading to find out how making a few changes can add up to more than £200 savings a year.

Find out how to make big savings on your energy bills by choosing an energy efficient appliance.

1. Review your energy bill: small savings available

Woman looking at energy bill

Cheap energy deals have disappeared over the last few months so it's not a good time for most people to switch energy provider.

If you haven't switched your energy supplier or tariff recently, or were moved to a new supplier when yours closed, you'll probably be paying out-of-contract rates. These didn't used to be good value but they're now among the cheapest tariffs so it's worth staying put for the moment.

However the price cap on out-of-contract tariffs is likely to rise on 1st April 2022. So compare gas and electricity prices in the weeks beforehand to protect yourself from more price increases. 

Use Which? Switch to do this. If you find a cheaper deal you might need to contact the supplier directly to sign up.

Other tips to keep your energy bills and payments in check:

  • Choose paperless bills and manage your account online (some companies charge extra for paper bills)
  • Pay by direct debit. This is usually cheaper than paying when you receive a bill
  • Send regular meter readings to keep your bill accurate. If you have a smart meter, it will do this automatically
  • Question any direct debit increases that seem too high. Your energy company should be able to explain the changes. Your usage and payments should balance out over a year.

Read more about how to get the best energy dealNot happy with your energy supplier? Then choose a better one - we reveal the best and worst energy companies.

2. Choose energy-efficient appliances: save more than £300

Eco Buy logo

If you're replacing an appliance, you can cut your electricity bills by choosing the most energy-efficient model. For example, Energy-efficient washing machines, depending on size, vary between £15 and £70 a year. 

The most visual indication of a product’s energy efficiency is its EU energy-efficiency rating. But we test energy consumption in a way that reflects how you actually use different appliances, so we can more accurately tell you which ones use less energy. 

For example, we test washing machines on the 40°C cottons program most commonly used by Which? members, while the EU Energy Label tests are 60% based on the 60°C cottons program.

Our lab tests reveal the annual running costs for every large appliance. Use the results to find out how much appliances cost to run, and which ones will be the cheapest.

Read more about how to choose an energy efficient appliance and start making savings with your next purchase.

How much money energy-efficient appliances can save you per year:

  • Tumble dryer – £106
  • Fridge Freezer - £76
  • Washing machine -  £55
  • Built-in oven - £39
  • Dishwasher - £32

These are the maximum savings based on the difference between the highest and lowest annual running costs from Which? product tests. 

Our research shows that swapping power-guzzling kitchen appliances for energy-saving models could save you up to £308 a year.

Find out more about the most efficient dishwashers and energy-efficient fridge freezers

3. Add insulation: save up to £290

Loft insulation being installed

Insulating both your loft and cavity walls can save you up to £290 a year.

Laying loft insulation to a thickness of 270mm in a typical non-insulated three-bedroom semi could trim £135 a year from energy bills, as less heat will be lost through the roof. 

Insulating cavity walls can save up to £155 a year in a semi-detached house. Solid-wall insulation, although more expensive to fit, could save you £210 in the same type of house. 

Read our full loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and solid wall insulation guides for all you need to know.

Already installed loft insulation? Even if you already have some loft insulation, you could save an extra £100 a year by topping it up from 120mm to the recommended 270mm.

You can also reduce heat loss through your windows by replacing single glazing with double glazing.

4. Get a new boiler: save around £195

Boiler on a kitchen wall

Your heating is responsible for more than half of your energy bill each year.

So replacing an old, inefficient gas boiler with a modern energy-efficient one will make a big difference to your bill.

It could save you £195 per year, if you upgraded an old G-rated gas boiler to a new A-rated condensing one with a programmer, room thermostat and thermostatic radiator valves. That's according to the Energy Saving Trust for a typical semi. If you live in a detached home, you could save £300.

Buying a new boiler can cost a couple of thousand pounds, including installation. So, if money-saving is your top priority and your boiler isn't beyond repair, balance your savings against the cost of the upgrade.

Find out how much a new boiler costs.

Gas boilers won't be around forever so if you're looking to the future, consider renewable heating systems such as air source heat pumps. First, you'll need to make sure your home is well-insulated.

5. Replace light bulbs: save £180

Light bulbs

Energy-saving light bulbs can help you to cut your energy bills easily. An LED light bulb costs around £1.71 a year to run . Over its lifetime, it could cut around £180 from your energy bills, compared with an old-style bulb.

Remember, energy-saving light bulbs last longer than traditional ones.

Light bulb costs compared

TypeLifetimeAnnual running cost
Halogen2,000 hours (around 2 years)£8.42
CFL10,000 hours (10 years)£2.04
LED25,000 hours (25 years)£1.71

Annual running costs are based on a typical 700+ lumen bulb, used for around three hours per day for a year.

LEDs are the most energy-efficient light bulbs, and use almost 90% less energy than traditional incandescents. CFL bulbs use 70-80% less energy than traditional bulbs. 

LED bulbs can cost less than £3 for one, and some can pay for themselves through energy savings in a few months. To find out more, see our light bulb reviews.

Already use energy-saving bulbs? Remember to switch off lights when you leave the room, and use the best bulb for the size of room or the job it will do. See five top tips for choosing the right light bulb.

6. Install and use central heating controls: save £75

Wall thermostat

If you don’t already have a room thermostat, programmer and thermostatic radiator valves, installing them – and using them well – could save a typical home £75 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. It will also cut your home’s carbon emissions by 320kg a year.

Heating controls should let you:

  • set your heating and hot water to turn on and off to suit you
  • heat only the parts of your home that need it
  • set different temperatures for different areas of your home
  • keep your home at a temperature that’s comfortable, without wasting heat.

If you only have one thermostat for the whole house, each degree you turn it up will increase your heating bill by around 10%, according to the Energy Saving Trust. So put on a jumper before you turn up the heating.

Electric heaters

Electric heater

If you only need to heat one room in your house, it may be cheaper to use a portable electric heater and keep the thermostat turned down. For those who live alone or work from home, investing in an electric heater could save on heating bills over time as you're not heating the whole house unnecessarily. 

Electric heaters are best used sparingly though. Electricity is much pricier than gas per hour. Plus our tests found that some heaters don't have very good thermostats so don't give you the room temperature you wanted.

Find out which electric heaters excelled in our tests and how to buy the best electric heater for your home.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostat and phone app

With a smart thermostat you can operate your heating remotely via the internet using your mobile phone, tablet or computer. Some can also learn your routine or adjust your settings depending on the weather forecast.

Coupled with smart thermostatic radiator valves, you can control exactly which rooms are heated, and which aren't. 

You can still do this if your thermostatic radiator valves aren't smart - you'll need to turn them off in each room manually.

Whether a smart thermostat could save you money will depend on your lifestyle, how efficiently you control your heating already and whether you’d prefer it to using traditional heating controls. Find out how to buy the best smart thermostat.

7. Draught proofing: save around £25

Draught excluder at the bottom of a door

Stopping heat from escaping through unwanted gaps around doors and windows could help you save around £25 a year in a typical home, according to the Energy Saving Trust. 

You could save even more with professional draught-proofing. Take a look at the following areas:

  • Windows Use draught-proofing strips around the frame. Brush strips work better for sash windows
  • Doors Use draught-proofing strips around the edges and brush or hinged-flap draught excluders at the bottom
  • Chimney and fireplace If you don't use your fireplace, use an inflatable pillow to block the chimney, or fit a cap over the chimney pot. If you have an open chimney, this alone could save you £18 a year
  • Floorboards and skirting Floorboards need to move, so use a flexible silicone-based filler to fill the gaps
  • Loft hatches Use draught-proofing foam strips to keep heat in.

Already repaired large draughty areas? Consider smaller holes that let in air, such as keyholes and letterboxes. Find out more in our guide to draught proofing.

8. Use less hot water

Close up of an electric shower in a bathroom

Though you might only use your heating in winter, you use energy year-round to heat your water. So heating and using it wisely will impact your bills.

Plus, if you have a water meter, these tips will help you save money there too.

If you have a hot water tank (rather than a combi boiler), use your heating controls to turn your water heating on and off, so you only heat as much water as you need. 

High-volume power showers can use more water in less than five minutes than a bath. So fit an eco shower head. Your shower will still feel powerful but it'll cut down on your hot water use. 

Other tips to try:

  • Wash up in a bowl, rather than under a running tap
  • Use a shower timer so you know how long you're spending in there - one minute less can save £4 per person per year, the Energy Saving Trust estimates
  • Insulate your hot water tank and pipes so water stays warmer for longer.

9. Find out if you could get energy efficiency grants or free cash: save £££s

Man using laptop

Energy schemes and grants are available to help pay your energy bills or to support you with the costs of renewable heating. The include:

  • Warm Home Discount - £140 mainly to pensioners and those who get certain benefits
  • Winter Fuel Payment - £100 - £300 per winter for those born before 26 September 1955
  • Renewable Heat Incentive (scheme closes in March 2022) - quarterly payments for seven years are available if you install a heat pump, biomass boiler or solar water heating
  • Boiler upgrade scheme (from April 2022) - up to £5,000 to replace your current gas or oil heating with low-carbon heating
  • Help with loft insulation and boiler costs from energy suppliers.

Find out what home energy grants you're eligible for.

10. Quick energy-saving tips

Selection of £20 notes

If you’re pushed for time or money, have done everything else on this list or simply want to get started cutting your energy bill straight away, try these tips:

  • Know where your energy costs are coming from. A smart meter shows how much energy you use in real time and how much it costs. Use this information to work out where you can cut back
  • Don’t leave your gadgets on standby. There are limits on standby power consumption of more recent electronics but take more care if you've had them a while.
  • Only run your washing machine and dishwasher when they’re full, and use energy-efficient programs. Dry your washing outside, rather than using your tumble dryer.
  • Defrost food in your fridge to help cool it, and cool hot food before you but it in the fridge or freezer.
  • Only boil as much water in the kettle as you need. 
  • Wash at 30C or 20C where possible - unless you're washing really soiled clothes, Best Buy washing machines still do a good job.
  • Clean your tumble dryer's filters to keep it efficient.

For more tips, check our advice on how to use less electricity.