Our energy bills will double over the next 10 years so it’s crucial now to do everything possible to cut our usage.
Energy experts, such as Mark Todd of Energy Helpline, have warned that the average dual fuel bill will reach around £3,000 within seven years and double by 2024. This prospect is frightening for any household as they struggle with income cuts.
The latest government Public Attitudes Tracker survey shows that 75% of households give “a lot or a fair amount of thought to saving energy in their home”. This figure should be higher given the growing amount of information about energy production costs and rising bills. The good news is that there are many simple ways to reduce electricity, gas and water bills.
To save electricity, it is recommended that you remove any traditional light bulbs and replace them with LED lamps. LED lighting technology is quite amazing now and can cut electricity consumption by more than 85%. Even better, the lamps – from downlights, to bulbs and spotlights, floodlights and even tubes and panels – just keep on going. Compared to a traditional bulb, which burns out in around 1,000 hours on average, LED lamps have a lifespan of up to 25,000 hours.
It’s true that LED lamps cost more, but that investment is usually returned within 12 months and then households keep saving year after year.
Government figures show that British homes consume £2.2 billion worth of electricity through their fridges and freezers. A new model with an energy rating certificate can cut energy use by 60% so upgrading is certainly worth considering if the financial means are available.
The latest energy-saving appliances are all much more efficient than those of even five years ago and can each help cut between £40-£100 per year from electricity bills.
Remember also to run a full clothes wash on a setting of 20 degrees celsius, boil just enough water every time you use the kettle and always make sure the dishwasher is full before running it. This cuts down on energy costs.
Smart power strips are also a great, cheap way to maximise efficient electricity consumption. When users turn off a PC or laptop, other linked devices – monitors, printers and scanners – also turn off. Powering down the TV means the cable/satellite box, video game console and DVD player shut off too.
Saving gas and water
If you are on a water meter, then reducing consumption is just common sense, and this also cuts the cost of energy needed to heat and pump the water. Invest in eco shower heads, eco taps and/or tap aerators that all cut water use by around 50% by cleverly mixing air with the water flow.
Closely tied with this, it’s well worth checking and possibly replacing your boiler. On average, a condensing boiler in place of an old model should reduce gas bills by around £310 a year, which means that the investment is recouped in roughly six years. It’s also worth checking the timer programming, your radiators and turning down the thermostat by a degree to shave about £75 off annual heating costs.
As part of any energy saving strategy, it is also crucial to draught-proof the home. For example, sealing out the wind around doors and windows could chop anything up to £50 a year from the heating bill. And less cold air coming in should allow you to turn down the thermostat for further savings. At the same time, you can insulate the loft. This is a cheap and effective way to cut costs and you get your money back though energy savings in about two years.
Insulation is increasingly important and if your home is less than 90 years old, then it’s likely that you can install cavity wall insulation, which sits in the space between two layers of bricks and is a very efficient way to cut heating loss, with a payback on investment of around £500 in less than four years.
As a longer term move, it’s worth thinking about solar energy. The cost of fitting a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel array on the roof can be easily recouped within a period of 10 years. It will then go on to provide continued excellent savings from the free renewable energy source.
Other renewable energy sources, like heat pumps, also have great potential. Heat pumps are supported by the government through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and should provide extra income for the energy generated while reducing utility bills for homes and businesses.
A final ‘triple whammy’ is to switch energy supplier and keep an eye on deals and tariffs, buy an energy monitor to help modify your consumption patterns and consider smart controls for heating and lighting.