Consumers are being encouraged to reduce their energy bills amid growing concerns over sharp price rises. Here are some ways you can save on costs
There are several options for consumers seeking to reduce their energy bills.
The average fuel bill for UK households is now £1,345, according to the energy regulator Ofgem. This autumn has seen another round of price rises from the “big six” energy companies, and many of us are paying £300 more than we did this time last year.
The government is holding a summit with the big six energy providers. The prime minister, David Cameron, and energy secretary, Chris Huhne, say the summit will focus on “getting people the help they need to reduce their bills in time for this winter”.
There are a number of things households can do to reduce how much they pay. Here are some you could consider:
If you haven’t switched, do so Comparison website TheEnergyShop.com says that in 2010 the average saving achieved by consumers using the site to switch was £301, and that half of customers achieved a saving of £430. If you are currently on a standard tariff, you should be able to save money by shopping around.
Pay by direct debit This can save consumers up to 10% or about £100 a year, according to Citizens Advice.
Check you are not overpaying If you are paying by direct debit, after a few months check how the amount you pay tallies with the level of your bills. If, after the winter months, in which you are likely to use the most fuel, your account is in credit, ask your provider if you can cut your monthly direct debit or have your overpayments back. Ofgem has a guide to running an account on direct debit.
Choose an online tariff Scottish Power, British Gas and npower are among the providers which offer their best deals to customers willing to pay by direct debit and manage their account online. Npower’s Sign Online 24 tariff offers a saving of about £250 on the average dual fuel bill.
See if you qualify for free insulation The government has said it will write to thousands of consumers who are entitled to free home insulation through its Warm Front scheme. This can cut bills by £100 a year.
Make energy-saving home improvements Aside from improving your insulation, more adventurous consumers might look to upgrade their boiler, fit energy-efficient glazing or draught-proof their windows – all can lead to cost savings in the long term.
See if you qualify for a discount The Warm Home Discount scheme offers pensioners on low incomes £120 off their fuel bills this winter, but they must apply for it.
Take regular meter readings According to the Energy Saving Trust, if your gas and electricity meters aren’t read regularly, bills based on estimated readings mean you could end up paying for much more than you actually use.
These are some of the ways you can cut your bills. Have you tried any of them out, and if so how did they work for you? We would like you to share your experiences in the thread below as well as any tips you can give on making savings.
Author: Hilary Osborne
Photography: Andrew Milligan / Empics
Fonte: The Guardian