Ways to beat winter energy bills
4th December 2013
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This winter thousands of us will find it difficult to cope with the cost of heating their homes. But what can you do to get those bills down and is help available if you simply cannot pay? Portsmouth and the south coast is not usually known to be the coldest place in the country,but it still gets cold! 

Cutting your bills: If you are worried about the cost of energy and paying your bills, the first thing to do is see if you can find ways to use less energy, and pay less for the energy that you do use:

1. Stop wasting energy. There are a wide range of steps you can take to cut your home and energy consumption and clearly, the less energy you use, the lower your bills will be. The simplest energy efficiency steps break down as follows:

Turn down the heat (within reason): Turning down the thermostat on your heating by 1 degree C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%.

Turn down the water temperature: If your water cylinder has a separate thermostat, make sure it is not set too high. Ideally, it should be set to about 60 degrees C.

Keep the cold out: Looking into some simple measures to insulate your home could make it easier to turn down your heating,for instance fitting draft excluders to exterior doors and letterboxes.

Keep the heat in: Simple things like closing your curtains at dusk will help to keep your home warmer, and therefore reduce your energy usage.

Save power: Saving electricity might not be directly related to heating your home, but it will have an effect on your bills overall:

Turn off the lights when you leave a room.

Don't leave the TV on standby and don't leave mobile phone chargers plugged in and switched on when they're not in use.

Do full loads of washing rather than half loads.

Only boil as much water as you need,but remember to at least cover your kettle's element.

Switch to energy saving light bulbs.

Invest in a meter that monitors what each of your appliances are using...some,such as water pumps in garden features use a surprising amount.

Fix any leaking hot taps: A single leaking hot tap wastes enough water to fill two baths per month and each drip will feature on your energy bill.

Visit the Energy Saving Trust to carry out a Home Energy Check online. You could find more ways to save.

2. Pay less for your energy-now is the time to make sure you are getting the best possible deal from your energy supplier and if you can get a better deal elsewhere, now is a good time to switch. The steps you can take here are: Compare suppliers and switch to save.

Look at getting your gas and electricity from the same supplier. Many suppliers offer dual fuel discounts, so you will often save money by doing this. However, check if you can save more by switching to two different suppliers before putting both your eggs in one basket.Make sure you are on your energy supplier's cheapest possible tariff: Your energy bill is calculated according to the amount of energy you use (units) and how much your supplier charges you for each unit (tariff). Get in touch with your supplier to find out if you could switch to a cheaper tariff. If possible, switch to paying by Direct Debit and paperless billing. Many energy companies offer discounts to customers who agree to pay by Direct Debit. It's also likely that you'll be able to cut on your costs simply by switching to paperless billing. All this means is that instead of receiving bills in the post, you'll get emails from your energy supplier and can manage your account and submit meter readings online. Talk to your energy supplier to see if either or both of these options could save you money.Take regular meter readings. If you do not read your meter regularly, and submit readings to your supplier, your bill may be based on estimated readings. This could mean you are paying for energy you have not used.

Make some home improvements. Looking at issues like loft and cavity wall insulation could save a lot of money over the longer term, and you may find that grants to help pay for them are available.

Get help paying your bills: In the end, however, for thousands of people across the UK, fuel poverty is a daily reality. If you are unable to pay your gas and/or electricity bills it is vital that you do not ignore the problem. Remember that energy companies are obliged to find ways to help you pay, whilst there are a range of initiatives out there to provide assistance and advice.

About the Author

Peter L

Member since: 4th June 2013

An owner of Thebestof Portsmouth, I have lived in Portsmouth and Southsea all my life, so I like to think I have a good idea about what makes us tick. I am passionate about all things Portsmouth and Southsea,...

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