5 ways to save money on your gas and electricity bills including taking electrical items off standby and installing a smart meter
Millions of households are facing huge increases in the cost of their energy bills.
If today's price cap announcement has left you wondering how you can keep costs down in the weeks and months ahead - here's five ways that you might be able to quickly reduce the amount of gas and electricity you're using.
1. Take appliances off standby
How many of us continuously leave our most-used technology permanently on standby? From televisions in every bedroom to laptops with the lid closed and devices continuously docked and charging when not in use.
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that up to £80 a year can be saved when we are more vigilant about turning off all the technology in our homes that we don't need at that very moment.
Televisions, set top boxes, games consoles in idle mode and phone chargers are said to be the worst offenders and can cause the biggest drain on our already stretched finances. A quick run around the house to see what can be pulled out or switched off at the mains could save you a fair sum over 12 months.
2. Consider installing a smart meter
Smart meters enable you to see where and how you're using energy in your home - and therefore where it might be possible to make savings.
While installing the meter doesn't mean you automatically save money or lead to any alterations in your tariff prices, being able to track how much energy you're using on a day-to-day basis and being able to compare it to previous weeks or months will focus your attention and perhaps improve the habits of everyone in your family when it comes to being conscious about conserving gas and electricity.
According to the government's analysis of the roll-out of smart meters - a saving of at least £36 a year is possible by adopting the new technology.
3. Change those washing machine habits
In 2020 consumer organisation Which? tested a range of washing machines to see how washing at lower temperatures altered energy use. On average its investigations revealed that switching from 40°C to 30°C saved 38% in energy, and going down to 20°C saved more than 60%.
It is estimated to cost between £38 and £48 a year to run a washing machine on around four washes a week, with the majority of money ploughed into heating the water you need, so switching to 30°C could cut around £13 off this usage cost each year while washing at 20°C might save you more than £20 anually
And while it's tempting to throw items in the machine every day to keep on top of the mountains of dirty washing, those looking to make further savings should avoid the temptation to switch the washing machine on every day unless it is full.
According to Which? doing a bigger normal wash four times a week uses 17% less energy than the average of three fast washes done daily. For the average washing machine this could mean a saving of about £7 a year. It might not sound a lot but the less you switch it on - the more you'll be saving on detergent and softener and probably water too.
4. Turn the heating down
Yes it sounds obvious - turn your heating down and of course you'll use less energy.
But alongside using timers and room thermostats to carefully control which parts of your house are heated and when - setting your thermostat to the lowest comfortable temperature and even turning it down by just 1C compared to what your household is used to can save between £80 and £85 a year if you do it consistently.
5. Take shorter showers
On average in the UK we take a shower that lasts between eight and 10 minutes.
But if you can limit yourself to just three minutes of hot water - and everyone in the house regularly does the same - you could stand to save yourself a fortune over the course of a year.
Reducing your shower time from 10 minutes, to three minutes - which might also involve doing all your soap and shampoo lathering with the water switched off before being put back on again to rinse - can save you up to £80 a year according to analysis by Ocean Finance.