How To Reduce Your Energy Bills

MoneyHelper

Are you worried about your energy bills rising? Find out what help's available to you if you’re concerned about paying bills or missing a payment.

Best ways to save on gas and electricity

Energy bills are very high at the moment, but there are a few things you can do to keep your costs as low as possible. It sounds obvious, but the less energy you use the lower your bills will be.

There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to cut your usage. We’ve listed some below. Here are some quick ideas to help you cut back: 

  • Close your curtains and use draft excluders to stop heat escaping.
  • Use your washing machine or dishwasher at a lower temperature, or run them on the ‘eco’ setting – and avoid putting the washing on when you don’t have a full load.
  • Get into the habit of switching off lights when you leave a room and switching off electrical items instead of leaving them on standby. 

Make your home more eco-friendly

Better insulation, a new boiler, solar panels. There are lots of options that could help you save up to £250 per year. You might want to look at energy efficiency grants to make you home more energy efficient.

Make your home more energy efficient

Spending a little to save a lot is a good investment – especially if you don’t have to spend your own money.

There are lots of grants available to help with things like:

  • improving your insulation
  • upgrading your boiler and appliances
  • installing solar panels or other renewable technologies

Even without a grant, some of these investments will pay back what you’ve spent quite quickly. They’ll then start saving you money.

Can I save money if I have a prepayment meter?

A prepayment meter works like a ‘pay-as-you-go’ tariff for gas or electricity. You need to pay for energy before you can use it.

That means putting money directly into your meter, using an electric or gas meter key, tokens or, in some cases, topping up online.

The main benefit of prepayment meters is that you won’t spend more than you have. But it’s also one of the most expensive ways of buying energy.

Can I switch energy if I have a prepayment meter?

If you have a pre-pay meter, you can still switch but currently for most people it will be better to stay where you are as prices are also capped to no more than £2,500 a year if you’re an average user.

If you want, or have to stick with, a pre-payment meter – you can still check to see if there’s a cheaper deal you can switch to.

If there is, none of the big six suppliers will charge to switch you to a credit meter which can be cheaper. 

You will probably have to undergo a credit check and your energy account will need to be debt free.

Will a smart meter help me save money?

A smart meter can help you track your use of energy so you can try to reduce how much you use and when. 

Fixed price energy tariff vs variable rate energy tariff

Switching to fixed rate energy deals are looking expensive when compared to sticking to your supplier’s standard variable rate, as standard variable rates are being protected by the Energy Price Guaranteed of £2,500 a year for households with typical usage. You might also find that energy companies won't take you on as a new customer.

What if my fixed deal is coming to an end after the price cap increases?

When your fixed plan ends, your supplier will put you on their standard variable tariff. With the high energy prices we’re facing at the moment, this will be the Energy Price Guarantee. This will limit the amount you pay.  

If you're near the end of a fixed plan, you won't have to pay a fee to leave it and move to a new tariff – provided your switch completes within the last 49 days of your current deal.

Fixed energy tariff

With a fixed price energy tariff, you won’t be affected by price rises during the contract. Currently no fixed rate tariffs are cheaper than the price-capped standard variable rate.

If you do choose a fixed rate tariff and, energy prices fall, you will still be paying the old, higher rate until the end of the contract.

If you want to switch again before it ends some fixed tariffs have exit fees, that you’ll need to pay to leave. 

Getting a fixed tariff also doesn’t mean you’ll pay the same amount for each bill. It’s the tariff that stays the same and your energy bill will rise and fall with your usage. 

If you signed up for a fixed tariff before the announcement that the October price cap rise will now be limited to £2,500 a year instead of £3,549, you might now want to stay on the standard variable rate. You can ask your supplier to cancel your contract and there will be no exit fees if you signed up in the past 14 days. If it’s been longer since you decided to fix, you should weigh up whether the exit fees your supplier charges are worth paying.

For most people a standard variable rate tariff is probably the best choice. Your bills rise and fall based on what’s happening in the energy market. If energy prices drop so will your bill. If they rise, you’ll need to be prepared to cover higher costs, up to the price cap.

Struggling to pay your energy bills?

Not being able to afford to heat or power your home can be worrying. However, there is help available if you’re struggling.

It’s important to get in touch with your supplier to ask for help before you miss a payment.

If you’re struggling with money or repaying a debt, options include:

  • reviewing bill payment plans, including debt you might be repaying in instalments
  • payment breaks, or reductions in how much you pay
  • having longer to repay what you owe
  • access to hardship funds – this is only in exceptional cases.

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