Although you are unlikely to think about your energy bills now that the weather is picking up, this is the best time to start thinking strategically and relieve pressure off the energy bills for the next winter. There are a few simple and clever things you can do right now and enjoy savings when they really matter.
Tweak Your Smart Thermostat
If you’re using a Nest or any other smart thermostat, there are a few cool tweaks you can make to save energy. In an unlikely event your energy provider is Npower or Octopus, your Nest thermostat will offer you Seasonal Savings mode automatically. It’s designed to save money on energy bills by making small changes to the temperature schedule.
The good news is that you can not only replicate the Seasonal Savings mode but even go a step further and teach your Nest a few new tricks. Set your Nest thermostat schedule to a few degrees less than the winter’s schedule, lower your night temperature and push back the time that heating turns on.
If you feel at home with new technology, hook up your smart thermostat with IFTTT. Nest isn’t the only thermostat that works with IFTTT – Ecobee and Tado will do too. You can even set up an IFTTT trigger to switch heating off whenever the weather is pleasant enough to carry through on ambient heat.
Tone it Down a Notch
Not everyone is sold on the idea of smart thermostats. If you’re using a regular one, it’s time to turn it down a degree or two. As the weather outside is pleasant, you won’t feel the difference but your wallet will.
Some go as far as turn the heating off altogether. It makes a perfect sense, especially if you keep your windows open regularly. Having the heating on with the windows open is probably the 2nd worst waste of energy after using patio heaters.
Save Money on Energy Bills by Adjusting Your Direct Debit
If you’re not already paying your fuel bills via direct debit, it’s time to set it up. Most energy providers offer discounts on bills paid via direct debit because it eases their bill collection process.
Usually your direct debit amount is worked out by estimating the average yearly bill and dividing it by 12. This is supposed to work well because you build up credit during the summer months, which takes a bit of a pressure off your wallet during winter.
If you’re with one of the bigger energy providers, you can adjust your direct debit amount in a more granular way. If looking at your last year’s balance it seems you didn’t quite build up enough credit during the warmer period, it might be a good idea to bump the monthly bill by a tenner to smooth out the winter payments. Otherwise you may be left with an unpleasant surplus due for payment at the end of each 12-month billable period.
Providers like Scottish Power, E.on and British Gas allow you to tweak your monthly direct debit directly online. It’s a good idea to monitor the amount you’re paying. Some customers still end up paying too much but there is a good guide on how to deal with the situation.
Compare Gas and Electric Tariffs
Compare energy tariffs within your current provider or see if you could benefit by switching to another provider. It’s easier that ever. If you’ve been on the same service plan for more than a year, it is highly likely that you could make savings by talking to your existing provider. They constantly shift things around and it’s up to you to make sure you are on the tariff that matches your energy consumption.
Boiler Replacement or Servicing
It is surprising how much difference an A-rated gas boiler can make compared to a G-rated boiler.
The G rating means your boiler’s efficiency is below 70% – in other words, less than three quarters of the burned gas will be converted into useful heat. An A-rated boiler has 90%+ efficiency. You can find out more on our energy efficiency tips page.
Let’s do a quick calculation to find out if you’re due a boiler replacement. So, let’s say you consume 15,000 kWh of gas per year. Your G-rated boiler will convert 10,500 kWh into useful heat.
15,000 * 0.7 = 10,500
Now to find out how many units of gas would an A-rated boiler require to convert the same amount of useful heat units, we’ll assume its efficiency is 91%
10,500 / 0.91 = 11,538
To work out potential energy savings, we’ll subtract the new figure from the original gas consumption.
15,000 – 11,538 = 3,462
The average cost of gas in the UK is 4.5p per kWh. Let’s work out the savings:
3,462 * 0.045 = £155.79
That is a decent amount of savings. In addition, a boiler replacement will save a lot of money on repair bills. If your current boiler is already past its warranty period, it may get costly to keep it maintained. A new boiler usually comes with a 10-year warranty putting an end to the annoying maintenance bills.
Plan Structural Changes
If your house could benefit from insulation or new windows, it’s time to plan for the upgrades now. The majority of trustworthy installers will be fully booked up weeks upfront so if you’re late to the party your installation may fall outside the good weather or you may even have to postpone till next year. Replacing the windows can save you up to £100 per year and reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Loft insulation can save a further £200 off energy bills.
Surely, most of us are already fed up with talking and thinking about bills, especially during the warm season when there are so many distractions around, however, planning on ways to save money on energy bills now will make next winter more enjoyable and comfortable.