Learn how to reduce your energy bill without living miserably.


Energy prices might no longer be rocketing, but they are still rising and are far from affordable. If we want to stay warm or simply put a wash on, the cost still feels so much more expensive for many.


In fact, British Gas says the average cost for two to three people living in a medium-sized house can top £3,100 or £260 a month, which is even more likely if you’ve stopped work and are spending more time around the house.


But despite the ongoing energy crisis, the power is still in your hands to reduce your monthly bill. There are various schemes that you can sign up to that help to bring the cost down, as well as some clever tips to start using right now that will see your monthly bill start heading downwards.



1. Join an energy saving scheme


If you have a smart meter, check if your energy supplier runs one of the new schemes to encourage customers to reduce their use at peak times. Ovo Energy, British Gas, E.On Next, EDF and Octopus all run schemes.


Ovo’s scheme, Power Move, for example, rewards customers £15 a month for reducing their electricity use by a certain amount between the peak hours of 4pm and 7pm, Monday to Friday. So don’t use washing machines, dishwashers or ovens during these hours and you’ll earn credit on your bill.


British Gas’s PeakSave Sundays, meanwhile, encourages customers to switch energy-intensive tasks to Sundays between 11am and 4pm. It does this by offering half-price electricity during these hours, giving you a good excuse to get your housework and laundry done, or your gadgets charged, for the week ahead.


There are a number of similar schemes like this – so it’s smart to check your supplier’s website to see what options are available to you.



2. Take part in Demand Flexibility Service (DFS) events


If your supplier doesn’t have a scheme to sign up to, then DFS energy saving “events” are run in collaboration by the National Grid and energy suppliers. And, like the options mentioned in the first point, these are intended to reduce demand during peak times.


Head to the National Grid’s DFS site to see which platforms are signed up.


Apps like Hugo Energy App are good places to start – these enable you to join in regardless of your supplier.


You need to have a smart meter to get involved (you can get one for free from your energy supplier). Savings vary but Hugo says you can earn around £3 for every kilowatt hour of electricity you reduce your usage by.



3. Track your appliance usage on your smartphone


If you do decide to get a smart meter, they can be real boons for energy saving… if you know how to use them.


The in-home displays show how various habits impact your energy usage in real-time, but are rarely user friendly. The Hugo Energy app is superior – it links to your smart meter and displays the information in a much clearer way on your smartphone.


You can use this information to experiment with small changes such as setting your washing machine cycle at a lower temperature, only running the dishwasher with a full load, or turning your wi-fi router off at night.



4. Get all the help you can


Given the rising costs of energy, an ever-increasing number of households are, sadly, falling into the threshold of needing a little extra support. Fortunately, there are pockets of support available if you know where to look for them.


Caroline Abrahams CBE, charity director at Age UK, told Saga Money that it’s vital you ask for help if you need it.


“Every penny counts if you are trying to make ends meet, so we urge anyone who is feeling the pinch to contact Age UK for advice and a free benefits check,” she said.


“A successful claim for Pension Credit could top up your weekly income and be life-changing, giving you the confidence to keep the heating on during the colder months ahead.”


If you are eligible for the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2023/24 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.


Pension Credit recipients might also be eligible for a £25 Cold Weather Payment if the average temperature is 0°C or below for seven consecutive days or more.


5. Think about how you cook



If you have an air fryer, slow cooker or microwave it will be cheaper to run these than your oven. This is because these cooking methods are just so much more energy efficient.


Research by Which? found that cooking a chicken breast in an air fryer costs 12p, compared to 28p in an oven, whereas fish fingers and chips cost 12p to air fry and 27p to oven cook.


It’s only worth switching to an air fryer if you know you will use it regularly but, if you are keen, you can now buy cheap ones from as little as £25 to £30 – and the best air fryers are worth the investment.



6. Draught proofing and insulation


Of course, one of the best ways to reduce energy bills is to stop heat escaping from your house. However, cavity wall or roof insulation can be expensive to fit.


Luckily there are other, cheaper ways to stop heat leaving your home, and they can have a dramatic effect for little time and effort.


Homeowners Alliance chief executive Paula Higgins told us how this is possible: “To draught-proof your home, you should block up unwanted gaps that let cold air in and warm air out.


“Inexpensive draught-proofing strips work for windows that open. These self-adhesive strips are cheap and easy to install but may not last long.


“Draught excluders work well at the bottom of doors – you can [even] make a simple one from bags stuffed with spare material.”



7. Ditch the tumble dryer


Tumble dryers are one of the most energy-intensive devices in the home. According to the Hugo Energy app, which helps interpret what’s actually going on with your smart meter, it costs between 65p and £1.76 each time you use your tumble dryer, depending on the specification and energy rating of your appliance, and the volume of clothes you dry.


The government’s Help for Households scheme says using your tumble dryer less could save up to £50 a year, so it’s definitely worth considering your clothes-drying habits if you want to save a little cash.


Of course, British weather means it isn’t always possible to dry your clothes outside, but you can easily dry them inside if you have the space. While this is obvious, you do need to make sure you ventilate the room by opening windows, to dry your clothes safely.


Alternatively, if you don’t like the breeze, you could always invest in a dehumidifier to remove moisture from the air – although you’ll need to decide if the savings of not using the tumble dryer outweighs the cost of the new device which is around £200.



8. Change your thermostat and boiler settings



Check the temperature on your thermostat and turn it down if you can. Reducing the flow rate (which is the temperature your boiler heats up the water to before sending it off to your radiators) on combination boilers to around 60°C can cut heating bills, and the great news is you shouldn’t notice the difference.



Les Roberts, energy bills expert at energy comparison service Bionic, says: “The ideal temperature range for a home is between 18-21°C. To save on your energy bills, keep to the lower end of this range. Turning your thermostat down by just 1°C could reduce your heating bills by as much as 10%.”



9. Don’t heat empty rooms



If you spend long periods of time in one room (for example, your living room in the evening) just heat that room, not the whole house.


The cheapest way to heat one room is by using an efficient gas central heating system and radiator valves – simply turn off the radiators in the rooms you’re not using. Contrary to popular belief, this will save you more money than turning off your central heating and using an electric heater in the room you’re in.


On the subject of radiators, keep them free from obstructions, like furniture, to allow the heat to circulate efficiently. You could also add specialist foil behind your radiators, which reflects heat back into the room, improving heat reflection to well over 90%.



10. Switch things off


It might sound obvious, but switching appliances and devices off will save you money. Your mileage will, of course, vary depending on the device – home entertainment devices, such as games consoles, wireless speakers and soundbars are among the biggest culprits.


Homeowners Alliance chief executive Paula Higgins says: “UK households spend an average of £35 leaving appliances on standby, so make sure to switch yours off at the plug. Research has also shown that leaving electrical items like laptops on charge after the battery is full costs around £3 a year.”


While not a huge saving per year, it’s also good for the health of your devices to turn them off when fully-charged – and if you don’t need to leave something on standby, then switch it off.


However, some things (like printers or set-top boxes) need to be left in standby to perform important maintenance, according to Which?


Wise up


Technology is making it easier than ever before to track how much energy we use, on what, and when. So become a geek – get clued up on your energy usage and work out where you can start making savings.


It also pays to stay informed about the latest incentives to reduce pressure on the National Grid at peak times, as well as government schemes designed to help certain income levels or age groups.


Times are tighter than ever before when it comes to energy usage, but even if you only browse this list and start using a couple of tips from today, you’ll start to see the benefits quickly.