How to reduce your energy bills and avoid the looming gas and electricity price hikes

Rising gas and electricity prices could push up energy bills by at least £139 for 15 million households across the UK from October Ofgem has said.

The price rises could create a "perfect storm" as families grabble with price hikes alongside rising inflation, the Universal Credit reduction and the end of furlough.

Here, Consumer Producer Hannah Kings shares tips from experts for reducing the energy you use and the money you pay.

Think about your thermostatWe all want to be warm at home – especially when we’re spending so much time there and when the weather outside is like it is! If you’re careful though, there are ways to save as much as you can whilst still having the heating on when you need it. Be selective about which parts of the home you heat - only heat the rooms you’re using, and set your thermostat to the lowest temperature that’s comfortable.

https://www.itv.com/news/2021-08-06/energy-bills-for-millions-will-increase-by-139-as-price-cap-is-raised Credit: Unsplash

Some experts suggest setting the temperature so that you’re warm and then reducing it by one degree every day until you no longer feel comfortable. You can then set the thermostat to the lowest temperature that kept you warm. This will take away the guesswork and make sure you’re using exactly the amount of heat you need.

Have a light bulb momentEnergy-saving LED light bulbs can quickly help to cut your energy bills. Although they may be more expensive to buy than traditional bulbs, experts agree that with the amount you’ll save on bills, energy-saving bulbs pay for themselves in time.

An energy-saving lightbulb (left) compared to a traditional one (right) Credit: PA

Switch things off – all the way offIt sounds simple, but switching off appliances – rather than leaving them on standby – can make a difference when it comes to saving energy. When you’ve finished using them, aim to switch appliances off at the plug.If you’re worried you might forget, it can help to set a power outlet timer that will automatically switch the appliance off at the plug overnight – without you having to think about it.

Switch off appliances to save energy.

Wash with careTry to fill the washer every time you use it so that you do fewer loads, and think about how hot you really need each cycle to be.Check your boiler and insulationIt can be a big investment, but replacing an inefficient boiler or installing effective loft insulation can help to save energy. It could be worth checking whether you qualify for Government help to pay for this such as the Green Homes Grant. This allows homeowners to apply for vouchers to put towards the cost of making certain energy efficient improvements.More information on these tips and more can be found from Which? and Energy Helpline

Should you switching energy suppliers? Tips on changing supplier and how to complain if it goes wrong

Customers unhappy with their energy supplier or who believe they are on the wrong tariff (this is what energy suppliers charge you for gas and electricity) are encouraged to shop around.

Households that shop around and sign up to fixed plans with suppliers are not subject to the price cap. Customers are often able to save hundreds of pounds by choosing a fixed tariff over the default.

It therefore pays to shop around.

If you think you're paying too much for your energy, then you should definitely consider switching suppliers.

If you haven't switched before or for a long time, it's likely you will be on your current supplier's default standard variable tariff - and that's likely to be way more expensive than the cheapest tariffs on the market.

Use comparison sites, such as uSwitch, Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, Energy Helpline or MoneySavingExpert.com.

Ofgem has a list of accredited comparison sites.

You can find your tariff and supplier details on a recent energy bill.

If you don't know your supplier (you've just moved home, for example), you can find out your gas supplier through this Ofgem link.

There are a number of new automatic switching companies that promise to constantly switch you to the cheapest deal on the market, if getting the cheapest deal, regardless of service is your main driver.

Getting a fixed deal at a competitive price will give you peace of mind. You can lock in your rates for 12 months, 18 months or longer.

The switching process can take up to 21 days. In most cases, it’s around 17 days.