Winter is typically the period when household energy usage goes up, so as summer draws to a close for another year, what can be done in preparation?
Saving on gas and electricity can help ease the financial burden and can provide a little extra money for the festive season.
There are a number of approaches to cutting bills, ranging from some very simple solutions to ones that require a little more time and effort.
Costs for electricity and gas vary greatly among suppliers, especially when special offers and new deals are taken into account.
Shopping around is always recommended as switching could save a significant amount while considering the many different options on the table should be considered.
Direct debit options or online tariffs could be different from those offered elsewhere while a dual fuel option – covering both electricity and gas – could represent a further way to make savings.
Tampering with the thermostat
Even turning down the thermostat by one degree could represent a significant saving as less energy is required to heat.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that such action could save more than £50 a year for the average household.
Putting on a jumper instead of the heating could save on costs while using a timer to ensure that a home is not heated when it’s empty will also reduce energy spending.
Energy efficient lighting
Energy saving light bulbs could reduce bills in an instant and also offer savings of £50 or more, depending on the size of a property.
Most energy saving bulbs will last longer than the traditional bulbs do despite costing more initially; they produce considerable savings in the long run.
Switching lights off when nobody is in the room will also reduce usage, cutting bills as a result, while just using bulbs suitable for each room will also lead to savings.
Draught proofing a property
Most heat in the winter escapes through windows and doors, so blocking unwanted gaps can help keep the heat in and reduce the pressure on a heating system.
Brush strips at the base of doors and around windows could cut the amount of air that can escape while draught excluders are another option.
For those with a chimney in their property, using an inflatable balloon to block the fireplace when not in use will also help keep warm air in.
While getting a new boiler might be a significant outlay, finding one that is more energy efficient will help reduce costs in the long run.
For instance, replacing an old gas boiler with a condensing one could reduce bills by around £300 a year – a considerable level of savings across a five or ten year period.
Checking radiators and pipes is also important as blockages could increase pressure on the boiler, making it less efficient.
Managing money and savings
Once money is saved, it’s important that spending can be regulated efficiently to ensure that it not wasted.
Using a prepaid card is a great to ensure this is the case as only money on the card can be spent and the lack of a credit facility means it is not possible to build up debts.
These cards work in a similar way as credit and debit cards, and can be used to purchase goods and services online and in shops, as well as for withdrawing money at ATMs.
A card could be used to cover direct debit energy payments or for gift spending in the run up to Christmas – the options are virtually endless.