As we face this upcoming period of uncertainty over our national energy situation it will become increasingly important not just to generate our own energy but to also reduce our household’s energy consumption.
Energy bills are increasing every year – we have seen electricity bills nearly double over the past decade according to DECC. Gas prices increased by 18% alone last year for British Gas customers and they predicted a further 15% rise again over the 2012/13 winter. Oil prices have risen even more, with an increase of over 24% alone in 2009-10 for domestic heating oil’s.
These increases and predictions have led uSwitch, a leading independent energy comparison service, to predict that the average household duel fuel bill will increase by a further £250 over the next three years to £1,500 a year. This will, according to their research, mean that over half of the country will have to ration energy usage unless they can reduce their household consumption and thereby their energy bills.
What can I do?
Depending on the budget available and the energy efficiency measures you have in place already, such as insulation, double glazing etc, you have a range of options available.
You can install renewable energy sources, such as solar PV and solar thermal panels to harness the suns energy. Installing renewable energy technologies not only allows you to generate your own energy which will reduce your consumption from the grid, but also will earn you an income from the Feed-in Tariff scheme and the upcoming Renewable Heat Incentive.
You may already have installed one or both of those options, or be looking at other ways of reducing your consumption from the grid without generating your own electricity. In this case there are several energy efficiency measures you can take:
- Install a new A-rated boiler which can save up to £300 a year on heating bills
- Install a voltage optimisation device which can save up to £100 a year on electricity bills
- Install loft insulation which can save up to £175 a year
- Install cavity or solid wall insulation which can save up between £135 and £475 a year
Other simple actions you can take to reduce your bills include installing a home energy monitor. These are often available through your energy supplier or can be purchased online, such as an OWL monitor. Studies have shown that by raising awareness of energy consumption in the home it may help you to see opportunities to use less energy and save money.
This means watching out for appliances that are being left on unnecessarily, turning things off standby and making sure all appliances are working as efficiently as possible.
Draught proofing your home is also a low cost measure you can take to reduce your heating bill. Studies by the EST (energy saving trust) have shown that sealing up any gaps around doors, loft hatches, windows and letter boxes can save up to £55 a year.
Changing your shower head to an energy efficient model and installing faucet aerators on taps can also help reduce your energy bills. These can reduce the amount of water delivered by 50% whilst still allowing you to wash your hands or enjoy an invigorating shower. By reducing the water delivered, you will heat less water with your boiler and therefore use less energy.
A test by ‘Which?’ showed that a £25 energy efficient shower head paid for itself within one year and some claim that in high-use households they can pay for themselves in around three months.
These are simply a few suggestions to help you reduce your energy bills but there are many free actions you can take, such as turning your heating down by 1°C, always turning lights off when you leave the room and only boiling as much water as you need in the kettle.