Have you just been hit with a frighteningly huge electricity bill? It's inevitable that you'll be cranking up the central heating and using more hot water and lighting in winter. We are generally at home more during these chilly months, spending evenings hunkered down in front of the telly or cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
But, by being savvy, is it possible to reduce those fiendish bills?
Well, yes it is, according to our money expert Ricky Willis (of blog Skintdad.co.uk). He has some top tips on saving on energy usage around the house...
Light bulb moment
If you haven't already embraced energy-saving bulbs, it's time to start. As Ricky points out, "Switching your usual light bulbs for LED ones can save up to 75% less energy and last 25 times longer* than traditional lighting. Typically a 11w LED bulb has the same brightness as a 60w halogen bulb, meaning that switching to LED could save your household around £232 a year in energy bills".
You can pick up a pack of two LED Light Bulbs for just £4 from Asda. Or, if you fancy something a bit more high-tech, splash out on some WIFI LED Light Bulbs, £20 each (in store). You can set them to a timer, adjust the brightness and change the colour of the light using your Amazon Alexa, Google Home or with a few taps on the TCP Smart App. Fancy.
Small changes can make a surprising difference to your energy bills. When it comes to laundry, "make simple changes like washing clothes on a cooler temperature, such as 30 degrees" (which, according to the Energy Saving Trust** can use up to 40% less electricity over the year than washing at higher temperatures).
Cut down on tumble dryer use by air-drying your laundry as much as possible (especially if you already have the heating on). Plus, Ricky says, "turning your thermostat down by even just 1C, can make all the difference to your energy bills".
It goes without saying that it is more economical to clean those dishes in a washing up bowl rather than under running water – and showering will use up considerably less energy than running a bath.
Switch your supplier
If you've had a negative experience with a particular energy supplier, bear in mind that it is incredibly easy to switch. "Use comparison websites like uswitch.com and moneysupermarket.com to compare your gas and electricity prices and make sure you’re on the cheapest tariff for you. And don’t forget to visit gov.uk/energy-grants-calculator to see if you might be eligible for help with your energy bills or to make your home more energy efficient".
Insulate your home
The main issue afflicting our homes? Heat loss. If you're living in a rented property, invest in draught excluders and door seals to contain as much heat as possible during chilly months. If you own a house and have the budget, good insulation makes the biggest difference of all, and may save you big bucks in the long term.
*Residential LEDs – especially ENERGY STAR rated products – use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.
** The comparison is based on changing 20 bulbs, all switched on for an average of five hours a day. The real saving on running costs you would make my replacing all your halogens with LEDs would, of course, depend on the number of light bulbs in your home, how long they’re switched on for – and your energy deal (new research from comparethemarket.com).