Nine (completely free) ways to save money on your energy bills (2023)

You can hardly move these days for energy-saving hacks, regardless of how helpful they actually are. In the chaos of last winter, when energy bills were at their peak, companies were legitimately suggesting that households looking to cut down on their usage should ration the amount of time their fridge door was open.

Needless to say, the biggest cost-savers come in the form of home improvements, such as insulation, double-glazing, solar panels, home batteries and the like. But these are expensive and can take years to pay off. There are some far simpler ways to cut down on your energy use and, by extension, your monthly bills.

Under the Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, each kWh of electricity you use costs 33.21p – this is known as the unit rate. You also pay 52.97p daily standing charge, regardless of how much power you use.

There are separate unit rates and standing charges for gas and electricity, all of which are capped by the Government until June, by which point costs are expected to come down. From then, households will move to a rate capped by the regulator, Ofgem, also known as the energy price cap.

As for which tips and tricks can actually save you serious cash, Telegraph Money crunches the numbers.

Adjust your boiler settings

Understandably, many people are a little cautious when it comes to tinkering with their boilers, but lowering the boiler flow temperature to 60°C on a combi boiler could save you £100 a year.

Advice published by the Government adds: “Reducing flow temperature isn’t the same as lowering your thermostat and won’t noticeably reduce the temperature of your home, but may increase the time it takes to reach the target temperature on your thermostat.”

However, for those over 65 or with pre-existing health conditions, it is advised to set a slightly higher boiler flow temperature of 65°C to ensure your home heats up quickly enough.

Reduce your shower time

Electric showers cost 26p for every five minutes they’re in use. That’s £1.82 a week, assuming you only take one shower a day. This cost doubles to £3.64 if you take 10-minute showers; a family of four doing this would rack up £14.56 a week on showers alone.

Clearly, this bill can be easily cut if you simply make sure you don’t dawdle in the shower. You can also cut costs by taking the opportunity to shower at work, or at the gym where possible.

Consider when to put the heating on

Experts advise you should start putting the heating on once temperatures dip below 15°C. If you’re the sort of household that turns their heating on for half the year and off for the other, the best dates to make the switch are typically when the clocks go back and forward.

In the UK, clocks go forward on the last Sunday in March, making it the ideal time to stop using heating. The last Sunday in October, when the clocks go back, is as good an opportunity as any to turn it back on again.

Homes are typically colder in the mornings and evenings, so setting your heating on a timer to turn on an hour before you wake up and within the hour you arrive home is a reasonable timetable.

To save money on bills, it is recommended not to use heating at night, or when you’re not at home – but if you’re going away for several days when it’s very cold it’s a good idea to put your heating on a timer to prevent the horror of frozen pipes.

Get smart with radiator settings

You might be tempted to turn off radiators in rooms you are not using to save energy, but it turns out that your boiler will have to work harder to increase the temperature when you turn them back on, meaning you won’t save money.

Instead, the Government recommends keeping radiators at a low setting, at between 2.5 and 3 (roughly 18C).

Slay 'vampire' appliances

Some electrical appliances quietly suck up energy even when left in standby mode. For most appliances the amount wasted amounts to pennies, but these costs can add up to substantial bills over time. The Government recommends turning unused appliances off at the plug – a tactic which could save £70 a year.

However, the true cost of so-called vampire appliances could be much higher, according to British Gas. The provider estimated households waste up to £147 a year by leaving appliances on standby.

Specifically, leaving a TV on standby can result in an annual cost of £24.61, while leaving a Freeview box plugged in can add £23.10 each year to your energy bill.

Similarly, the cost of leaving a microwave on standby is around £16.37 per year, whereas a washing machine and tumble dryer add approximately £4.73 and £4.79 respectively. Larger households are particularly susceptible to these costs, with computers left on standby adding £11.22 to annual bills, game consoles adding £12.17 and standby printers contributing £3.81.

Even small devices like phone chargers left connected to the mains can add up to £1.26 a year, which can quickly accumulate if you have several children with their own phone chargers. But you might be relieved to know broadband routers, which are typically left on 24/7, only cost 7p a day.

Cool down clothes washes

You really don’t need to be washing your clothes at 40°C – newer washing machines can rid pretty much all stains and germs at 30°C. Not only is 30°C a perfectly fine temperature to wash your clothes at, but government calculations indicate three washing cycles at 30°C use the same amount of energy as two at 40°C.

The Energy Savings Trust estimates households could save around 40°pc of the energy used each year just by switching to 30°C washes. Your washing machine is also an example of a vampire appliance that uses energy when it’s not being used – turn it off at the wall to save energy.

Give the tumble dryer a miss

Maintaining the fluffiness of your towels notwithstanding, using a tumble dryer over a clothes horse really isn’t necessary – and it’s also incredibly energy intensive. Under today’s rates, a single 45-minute tumble dryer cycle costs 64p.

The Government estimates a typical household could save £70 a year simply by opting to use a clothes horse or outdoor washing line instead.

Charge your EV at night

Households on specialised EV tariffs can charge their cars overnight at a rate of 10-12p per kWh, but the daytime rate is more expensive at 49-53p per kWh.

For most homes the higher daytime rate won’t be an issue as they’ll be out during the day and at home overnight. EV drivers can also bolster savings by selling surplus electricity back to the grid, or using it to meet their home’s electrical needs.

Public charging is more expensive than charging at home, but costs are not governed by the price cap. Typical public charging rates range between 49-66p per kWh.

Now read: This is exactly when you should invest in an electric car

Consider getting a smart meter

While some people have very strong opinions about smart meters – which won’t save money in and of themselves – there can be no denying that knowledge is power.

A smart meter can be installed for free, and energy providers are very keen for households to do so. The technology will give you live updates on how much energy you’re using, which can give you more of an indicator of where you could cut back. Just a thought.

Now read: What is ‘net zero’, and how much will it cost you?

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