Cost of living: Three tips to save money on energy bills
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According to data from the energy supplier British Gas, when the minimum average daily temperature drops below nine degrees for several days in a row, there tends to be a “tipping point” when most people decide to turn on their heating. British Gas forecast suggests this tipping point will occur towards the end of this month and the energy firm predicts it will receive around 40,000 calls from households across the UK to get their heating and hot water systems back up and running.
Joanna Flowers, a Manchester-based service and repair engineer at British Gas, said: “Colder weather is coming, which means as well as checking your heating system is in good working order, it’s time to take steps to maximise the energy efficiency of your home.
“There are lots of simple things you can do around the house to keep everything working without using more energy than you need. Only do what you’re comfortable with and contact a qualified engineer if you need help.”
Before the coined “big switch on”, Ms Flowers recommended people bleed their radiators as air can enter the system which could prevent them from working efficiently.
She said: “When air enters the system it can form bubbles at the top of your radiators, which stops them from working efficiently.
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“If you notice cold spots at the top of your radiators, switch them off and after they cool, turn a radiator key in the valve at the top to let the air out.”
Another simple tip regarding radiators is to make sure that they are turned off in rooms which are not being used as it is important to make sure energy is not being wasted over the winter months.
Ms Flowers also added that the doors for the rooms not being used should also be shut as it prevents the cold air from circulating around the house.
Britons should also, if they can, invest in draught excluders for doors and windows to help prevent warm air from escaping and cold air from “sneaking” in.
Ms Flowers explained: “You wouldn’t leave the back door open when the heating’s on, but warm air could still be escaping without you realising.
“Draught excluders are available from most DIY stores, and they’re an easy and affordable way to draught-proof your home.
“As well as sealing the joins around your doors and windows, don’t overlook extra measures like letterbox brushes, chimney balloons and even keyhole coverings.”
As well as draught-proofing, people should also make sure their water pipes are insulated and wrapped up too as it can save people from having to fork out on any costly repairs.
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She added: “We often come across frozen condensate pipes – which can burst or crack when the water inside turns to ice.
“The best solution is to stop the water inside your pipes from freezing in the first place. Insulating materials are an easy, cost-effective solution, available from most DIY stores. It will ensure the pipes don’t lose heat saving an average of £15 on your bills.”
Ms Flowers explained how it is “really easy” to turn the thermostat on all the way up when it is freezing outside however people need to be aware of how hot their house actually needs to be.
Ms Flowers said: “Aim to set your main room thermostat somewhere between 18°C and 21°C and you can save around 10 percent on your heating bills an average of £115 a year by turning it down by 1 degree.
“It’s also a good idea to set your thermostat to one temperature and then use a timer to turn it on and off when you need the heating most. That way you won’t waste excess energy from leaving the heating on too high, for too long.”
When the heating is on, Ms Flower recommends people try to utilise the furniture in their home in order to help their radiators do their job properly, as a misplaced couch could reduce how much heat actually gets into the room.
She said: “Putting your sofa in front of a radiator will absorb heat that could be warming the rest of the room.
“Curtains and rugs have an important part to play as well because thick material prevents heat from being lost through windows and doors just don’t forget to open your curtains during the day so that the sun can do some of the work.”
Ms Flowers highly recommends people take steps to be “energy smart” by installing a smart meter or a smart thermostat.
She added: “Unsurprisingly, winter is peak season for energy usage. Making the most of tech like smart thermostats means you can control your heating on the go and avoid wasting money on energy you’re not using.
“For example, if you’re stuck at work or delayed on the way home, you can use your smartphone to stop the heating from coming on too early and warming up an empty house. Our Hive Active Heating customers save around £311 on average.”
Even after taking steps to make their home more energy efficient, Ms Flowers urged Britons to reach out and get the help they are entitled to if they are struggling.
She said: “It’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible for extra assistance with your energy bills, especially before the cold weather sets in.
“The Government will give every household £400 off their electricity bill through the Energy Bills Support Scheme and £150 winter rebates are available through the Warm Home Discount scheme.
“Face-to-face advice, financial support and grants up to £1,500 are available from the British Gas Energy Trust, even if you’re not a British Gas customer.”
Ms Flowers highlighted that most suppliers offer assistance funds to provide grants towards energy costs and that it was “important” people get help when they need it.
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