Energy saving tips: Five ways to cut costs this winter 

Households will pay more for their energy bills in the new year after Ofgem increased its price cap.

The average household energy bill will rise by £94 a year from January after Ofgem increased its price cap in response to rising wholesale prices.

The regulator announced last month it is raising its price cap from the current £1,834 for a typical dual fuel household to £1,928 from January 1, driven almost entirely by rising costs in the international wholesale energy market due to market instability and global events, particularly the conflict in Ukraine.

The energy price cap sets a limit on the maximum amount suppliers can charge households in England, Wales and Scotland for each unit of gas and electricity.

The headline price cap figure is an average across households rather than an absolute cap on bills, so those that use more will pay more.

The announcement puts hopes for relief from the cost of living crisis on hold, and follows chancellor Jeremy Hunt making no mention of any further help from the UK Government to offset household energy bills in his autumn statement.

Despite the additional pressure on many households, there are ways to reduce your costs.

The figures in this article, calculated by experts at Cambridge Architectural Research (CAR) and Nesta, are based on the energy price cap figures announced for January-March 2024.

Since prices are lower until the end of 2023, you may see slightly reduced savings until then.

Here are five tips could save you in the region of £300 yearly on a typical energy bill.

Use the thermostat and timer to save £125

Turning the thermostat down by a degree could save you around £113 annually – but remember the Department of Health recommends a room temperature of at least 18C, and elderly, ill or disabled people may need a higher setting.

Bear in mind the position of your thermostat. If it’s portable have it in the room you are using. If it’s fixed in the hall (typically cooler) or kitchen (typically warmer) remember it will monitor the temperature there to regulate the whole house.

If your main living area is elsewhere in the home, you might need to turn the thermostat up or down to maintain 18C (for example) in that area.

Set your timer so your heating is off when you are out. Reducing your heating by five hours per week could save you around £12 per year.

Reduce your combi boiler flow temperature to save £70

If you have a combi boiler, try reducing the flow temperature for the water going to your radiators to 60C.

A higher temperature will heat your home faster, but it could also mean bigger bills.

Combi boilers tend to capture and recycle heat less efficiently at higher temperatures – meaning it requires more gas to heat your home.

If you’ve got a system boiler (with a hot water tank), try reducing your flow temperature to 65C. It’s important that you don’t go below this temperature though as this could increase the risk of legionella bacteria growing in the tank, which is dangerous.

Change your showerhead to save £70

Installing a water efficient showerhead for around £10 can save £71 a year, assuming you spend the same amount of time showering (though if you have an electric shower it will already have an efficient flow set and this action isn’t advisable).

You can also save some £61 by cutting the length of your showers from seven to four minutes.

Doing both will save you even more, though slightly less than the combined total as you’ll be using less water overall.

Turn down radiators in less-used rooms to save £50

If you have numbered radiator valves, normally with settings from one to five or six (known as thermostatic radiator valves) there are savings to be made, particularly if you are using them like on-off switches.

Try turning the dial down to the midpoint on radiators outside the living room instead, for cooler temperatures and energy savings in rooms you use less.

In general setting the radiator to the middle of the valve will heat rooms to 18-20C. If you put the valve to six the radiator will keep heating the room to up to 30C (assuming your heating remains on).

Further savings can be made by draught-proofing your home

Draught proofing your windows, doors, chimneys and floors could save you up to £155 in a typical three-bed gas heated, semi-detached house

To stop cold air getting in and heat escaping, consider:

  • adding draught-proofing strips around doors and windows
  • adding strips along the edges of external doors and a brush at the bottom
  • installing a letter-box cover
  • using sealant to close gaps between suspended floorboards and skirting boards
  • adding a chimney draught excluder to unused chimneys

But do not block extractor fans, wall vents and airbricks. These are necessary for ventilating certain rooms, like your kitchen and bathroom.

How we worked out the figures

All the savings listed above are based on what Ofgem, the energy regulator, calls a typical household in Great Britain – a three-bed, gas heated, semi-detached house.

In numbers, that’s a house that uses 11,500 kWh of gas at a cost of 7.4p per kWh, and 2,700 kWh of electricity at 28.6p per kWh each year. If you use more, or less, your savings will change accordingly.

Energy costs are set for January to March 2024 and are likely to change again from April, meaning the amount you’ll save will also change.

Combining all the measures in this article could save a typical household around £400 a year. Due to potential double counting, this is less than what you would get by adding up each individual measure.

Some people will have already implemented some of the measures listed above, meaning they’ll see smaller savings. Severe energy rationing could also lead to unwanted effects and dangers – underheated and damp homes come with health risks.

These tips have been chosen in collaboration with UK broadcasters – including the BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – as well as Citizens Advice, the Climate Change Committee, the Energy Saving Trust and Nesta.

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