Energy Bills: Counting the Cost?

Concerns have been raised that hikes in energy prices could push an extra 500,000 into fuel poverty this winter

With the UK’s wholesale energy markets reaching record highs over the past few weeks, we could all be facing some of the biggest winter fuel bills in years. 

Indeed, households who pay by direct debit bills are looking at an average increase in their bills of £139 per year - and reports suggest half a million people could be forced into fuel poverty due to the price rises.

One family keen to cut their bills is the Bashfords.

So Which? consumer expert Adam French paid them a visit to see if he can help. Adam worked out which of their appliances was using the most energy and offered some simple tips to help them save on that huge monthly bill.

With 7 people in the home, the Bashford family can spend up to £400 on energy each month

He revealed that the family could save around £40 a year on their energy bills just by making sure they unplug or switch off appliances, while knocking down the thermostat one degree can save the average home around £50 pounds. And hanging washing out rather than using an energy sapping tumble dryer is another really easy way to save money on fuel bills.

For those with bigger ambitions, it’s possible to overhaul your home to make it more energy efficient - reducing bills long term. In North London, reporter Jonny Maitland met Stewart and Mary, who’ve spent the last decade transforming their home - with solar panels, DIY wall, loft and floor insulation, heavy curtains and doors that keep out draughts. All in all, these measures have reduced their gas bill to just £150 a year.

Stewart McIlroy’s energy saving measures have reduced his bills drastically

But there is a note of caution when going down the energy efficient route. Britain has some of the oldest housing stock in Europe, and these aging buildings mean they are leaking heat, making them more expensive to keep warm. Something Linda and Linda in South Wales know only too well. But when they had exterior wall insulation installed at a cost of £30,000, far from improving things, it made it worse - the insulation actually sealed the damp inside the walls.

Linda and Linda told Tonight:

It always used to be that the recommendation was to make sure you get the best deal by switching supplier. But expert Gearoid Lane, of Agility Eco, told Tonight:

So we may all need to look at ways to conserve energy, and use a little less this winter or we will all be counting the costs for years to come.

Useful LinksGrants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills - Citizens AdviceAgility Eco services: , , , myecohome.orgAge UKOfgem help and advice pageEnergy Saving Trust - advice to cut your home’s carbon footprint and energy usageChristians Against Poverty - nationwide helpNational Energy Foundation - nationwide helpFuel Bank Foundation  - nationwide helpGreen Doctors - nationwide helpBeat the Cold - energy charity helping people in StaffordshireChurch on the Street -  charity helping people in Burnley, Lancs

Energy Bills: Counting the Cost? is on ITV on Thursday at 7.30pm.