After the relatively mild start to the winter months the cold weather has definitely made itself known. With people’s finances stretched more than ever it is important that everything possible is done to help reduce your energy usage and costs. One of the quickest ways to reduce bills is to ensure you are on the cheapest tariff and supplier for your usage. This can be done using price comparison websites such as Uswitch.com. Vulnerable customers could possibly save up to £130 on their winter fuel bills through the Warm Homes Discount Scheme. This is for customers on low incomes or a guaranteed rate of Pension Credit.
Just ring your gas and electricity supplier for more details.
In order to learn how to become more energy efficient it is important to understand and calculate which electrical items within your home cost the most to run. There is often a misconception that leaving the light on for a few hours or leaving the TV on standby overnight burns a hole in your electricity bill. You will be surprised to learn that low energy light bulbs cost only 1p for around 7-9 hours usage. The main contributors to your energy bills are items that heat up such as electric heaters, fires, tumble dryers, electric hobs and kettles. Other items to include are washing machines and fridge/freezers. These appliances tend to have running costs of around £30-£40 per year, on average, so it is important to conserve energy on these appliances where possible.
One way of doing this is to ensure that you buy the energy efficient models. Most appliances are now given energy ratings with A++ being the most efficient. Purchasing appliances with an A++ rating could save you money in the long term. For example, a new A++ fridge/freezer will cost around £15 per year in energy costs whereas a G rated equivalent will cost over £68 per year. Washing machines cost between 15p and 23p per cycle, depending on the model and energy efficiency rating. This equates to an average annual cost of between £41 and £63. Tumble dryers cost between 40p and 62p per cycle, which equates to between £59 and £92 annually, depending on the model and energy efficiency. If you added up these savings across all your appliances the savings to be gained could be substantial.
The best way to control and monitor how much you are spending is by using an Energy Monitor. Energy monitors don’t save you money directly, but they help to indicate which electrical items are guzzling electricity. The monitors are fairly easy to set up – a transmitter device is clipped to a wire feeding into your electricity meter; depending on the type of monitor it can be transported anywhere around the house. The transmitter sends a signal to the monitor and tells you how much electricity is currently being used. By switching off appliances for a short period and then using them again you can establish how much energy they are actually using. There may be an old freezer or washing machine eating up electricity in your home without you knowing. The energy monitor will be able to identify this and could help save a substantial amount in the long term. Once you have established a correct level of energy usage you can set this level as a daily target on your monitor and set an alarm to alert you when you have exceeded this amount.
Some energy monitors are available free of charge, depending on your energy supplier and tariff chosen such as the British Gas EnergySmart tariff or Southern Electric iplan tariff. However, you must ensure that this is the best tariff for you. It may work out cheaper to take up a different tariff and pay for an energy monitor separately. Energy monitors can cost between £20 and £100 based on their different levels of functionality.
The number of energy monitor suppliers is fairly limited. Here are my two best buys:
Efergy Elite Wireless Monitor
£40 at Play.com*, Maplin* and Tesco Direct*
Efergy Elite Wireless Monitor has all the standard features, including cost per hour and usage in kWh plus a memory function, so you can compare the usage over days, weeks and months to track how much you’re saving.
Eco-Eye Mini Wireless Electricity Monitor
This has identical features to the Efergy Elite and offers reading updates every 4 or 30 seconds.
So it’s definitely worth considering having a look at your usage, after all why pay more when you don’t have to!