British households continue to face surging energy bills after a supply crunch sent power prices soaring, but there are steps they can take to cut the costs of the bleak winter.
Traditionally, the solution to rising gas and electricity tariffs has been for customers to shop around for a better deal from a plethora of providers. But as the energy crisis causes small suppliers to collapse and those that remain to pull their best offers, households will need to turn to different tactics to reduce their bills.
, using it at the right time, or generating some of your own, will take on added importance. A few small changes to your home could be the key to weathering the winter of rising energy bills.
Here are some of the steps you can take, how much you could save, and the pitfalls to avoid.
Consider a smart meter
Smart meters, giving much more accurate readings than traditional analogue meters, which work off a monthly estimate. Readings are sent automatically to suppliers, meaning customers are less likely to underpay or overpay for gas and electricity.
They can also save you money. Some energy suppliers offer tariffs exclusively for smart meter users, which vary the cost of electricity throughout the day. Customers can then tailor their energy use, making more use of appliances when electricity prices are lower.
However,. Some people are uncomfortable having their energy use tracked and have questioned how much money the meters really save, given bills have increased to pay for the smart meter rollout.
The devices themselves have also been prone to issues. First-generation meters can lose their functionality when a customer switches supplier, effectively rendering the devices useless.
Energy firms are adamant that only they can see your data and that information cannot be passed on to a third party without your explicit permission. Although smart meters send readings to your energy supplier, they do not store your name, address or bank details.
Improve your insulation
Changes to your home to improve its heat retention could shave hundreds of pounds from your energy bill.
According to My Utility Genius, a comparison site, around 35 per cent of heat in an average semi-detached house is lost through its walls. Properly installed cavity wall insulation can save up to 15 per cent on heating costs.
Homes built before the 1920s are more likely to have solid walls. These are more difficult and expensive to insulate but doing so can generate higher savings. My Utility Genius said that installing this type of insulation could cut the average energy bill by up to £350 a year.
In an uninsulated home, almost a quarter of heat is lost through the roof. Loft or roof insulation could save up to £175 on the average bill, the comparison site said.
Insulating floors, by filling in gaps below skirting boards can reduce heat loss by up to 10 per cent, cutting £60 from the typical energy bill.
Should you switch to a heat pump?
The Government wants to, such as air source heat pumps, in the coming years. These are expensive to install, costing between £7,000 and £14,000 versus £1,000 for a traditional gas boiler, but can cut down on energy costs in the long run.
Households switching from an old liquid petroleum gas – or LPG – boiler to a heat pump would see the biggest savings. According to the Energy Saving Trust, the energy bill for a four-bedroom detached home would drop by £1,250 a year after the switch.
However, savings vary depending on the age and style of households’ existing boiler. While heat pumps are four times as efficient as traditional boilers, they are usually powered by electricity, which is much more expensive than gas or oil.