With the nights drawing in and the temperature starting to drop, CashLady has come up with some tips on how to save money on energy bills.
Change your provider to save money on energy bills
Get access to cheap gas and cheap electricity by changing your energy provider. Many people stick with the same provider because they think it is difficult to change. This could not be further from the truth.
The gas and electricity that come into your home will be the same with any provider. Changing your provider just changes the company who supplies it to you and sends you out utility bills. Why pay more for the same thing?
Where to start
We are always hearing about rises in energy prices. By switching your provider before the weather turns colder, you can make big savings on your winter energy bills.
Having your gas and electricity with the same provider can also result in cheaper energy bills. If you are able to do this, it may be worth considering so that you can get the biggest savings.
Paying by direct debit can also save money on energy bills. If you overpay, you can ask for a refund – some providers will even refund it to you automatically. By doing your own meter readings you can make sure that you are paying the right amount. Do this by comparing your readings to any ‘estimated’ readings on your energy bill.
How to find cheap gas and cheap electricity providers
Comparison sites such as uswitch allow you compare energy providers. You will need to put in your details, including what you are currently paying for gas and electricity. After you have done this, you will see a list of providers and how much switching to each one could save you.
You may also be able to get incentives such as cashback by switching to a particular provider.
You can still switch even if you do not own your home. If you rent your property, you have a right to switch supplier as long as you are paying your energy bills.
Fixed term deals
Fixed term deals allow you to fix the amount you will pay per unit (kWh) of energy. These type of deals allow you to do this for a fixed period of time and can make your utility bills more predictable.
For example, if you choose a fixed term deal that runs until March 2018, you will know how much you will be paying per unit of energy for the next two winters. This not only protects you from price hikes but also helps you to budget.
Many people who have a tight budget find this type of deal helpful. They know that the price of their gas and electricity will not go up until the end of the deal. If you chose a fixed term deal, your bills should only rise if your usage increases.
As with all contracts, it is important to read all the small print to make sure that you are happy before signing up to a deal.
Here are some examples of fixed deals that are available at the time of writing. The price of these tariffs can vary depending where you live in the country. You can enter your postcode onto a comparison site to get accurate costs.
Sainsbury’s Energy (operated by British Gas) currently have a fixed price tariff. As such the tariff allows you to fix your per-unit energy costs until November 2017.
iSupply energy is offering a 24 month fixed price deal.
Remember to input your details into comparison sites so that you can find the best deal for you.
Non-fixed term deals
Non-fixed term deals are usually slightly cheaper than fixed term deals. This is because the energy provider can increase the prices if they need to – they are not taking a risk.
Some people would rather take a chance that energy prices will not rise and go for a non-fixed term deal. This is the type of deal many people are put on as a ‘standard tariff’ with their energy provider.
Almost all providers offer non-fixed term energy deals.
Early exit penalties
By signing up to a fixed term deal to get cheap gas and cheap electricity, you may be subject to early exit penalties. This means if you leave a deal before it comes to an end, you may have to pay a fee.
What if a cheaper deal came along? You would have to weigh up the pros and cons of paying these fees against the price of your current tariff and what you would save on the new tariff.
With energy prices continuing to rise, many people prefer to have the peace of mind a fixed term deal can offer them.
Switching with a prepaid Gas & Electric meter
Many big suppliers will let you switch to a credit meter for free.
Even if you cannot do this, there are still deals that could save you money on your energy bills. You can compare prepaid meter deals on comparison sites such as uswitch.
Technology to help you save money on energy bills
Technology can actually help you save money on energy bills.
These new types of electricity and gas meters can send your energy readings direct to your energy provider. This can result in more accurate bills.
Using a smart meter will also enable you to see when you use most of your energy. This knowledge may help you to plan how you can save energy and money in the future.
These meters are currently being rolled out across Britain and every household should have one by 2020.
There are a range of apps that you can download that could potentially save you money.
This app challenges you to save energy and includes tips on how to do so. You can keep track of your energy achievements in a fun way – including filling your virtual trophy case.
This app enables you to work out how much energy you waste and how much you could save.
Government grants to help you save money on energy bills
The British government offers a variety of grants to make your home more energy efficient.
Some people who receive certain benefits can apply for a grant for a free boiler or cavity wall insulation.
If you were born on or before 5th May 1953, you could also be entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment towards your energy bills from the government.
Some people are also entitled to a Cold Weather Payment. This is if the weather where you live goes below 0 degrees celsius for seven days in a row between 1 November 2016 and 31 March 2017.
The Warm Home Discount is a £140 rebate on energy bills. Not everyone is eligible for the rebate so, as with all these grants, it is important to check the small print.
More information about these government grants and more can be found on the government website.
Save money on energy bills by monitoring your tariff
Once you have switched, it is important to keep an eye on your tariff to make sure you are still getting the best deal. If you have signed up to a fixed term deal, your energy provider could place you on a standard tariff if you do nothing once it has ended. To avoid this happening, just go back to a comparison site to find another deal.
Use renewable energy to help save money on your energy bills
Installing renewable energy devices, such as solar panels, could save you money on your energy bills.
You should balance out the cost of the installation of such devices against the potential savings you could make. It’s important to do this before you decide whether these are right for you.
Do not forget to check your balance with your old energy provider
If you do decide to switch providers, make sure that you give a final meter reading to your old provider and ask how much the balance of your account is. You could find that you are owed money from them because you have overpaid.
Switching energy providers can result in big cost savings for many people. To find out how much you could save, you can enter your details into a comparison site, such as uswitch.
You could also save money by using apps to become more aware of your energy usage and how much it is costing you.
There are also government grants available to some people to help them with their energy bills.
Finally, you could look into renewable energy such as solar panels, as a way of saving money on your energy bills. These are not right for everybody so it is important to do your research.
By being aware of your energy consumption and how much you pay for it, you are already on the first step towards saving money on your winter energy bills.