4-step plan to cut your gas and electricity bills before the cold snap

Although the forecasts are pointing towards an Indian summer, with a heatwave set to stretch well into October, it’s still worth considering ways to cut your energy bills before the inevitable cold snap.

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Snow on the roofs of houses alongside a canal.

Acting now could easily save you a couple of hundred pound over the year, particularly if you’ve been placed on a more expensive variable rate tariff – follow our four-step plan and you should be making savings before you’ve turned the central heating on…

Top tips to help cut your energy bills

1. Switch energy supplier

It’s easy to take your eye off your energy bills during the summer, but if you’re one of the thousands of customers whose fixed rate plans expired in August, you could see your bills rocket by up to £200 a year.

Even if you’re one of the estimated 6.75 UK households who have never made the switch, you’ll still be paying over the odds for your energy, as you’ll have been placed on your supplier’s standard variable tariff, which is always among the most expensive rates.

Switching energy supplier is probably the simplest way to make savings on your energy bill – it takes literally minutes to enter your details and run quotes from, then once you’ve chosen deal you’re happy with, the switch should take no longer than 17 days.

Switch your gas and electricity with UK Power now, or check out Is your energy bill set to soar before the end of summer? to find out more about the switching process.

2. Get more energy efficient

There’s more to cutting your energy bills than just switching provider, and putting these five simple energy efficient hacks into practice could save you an over £400 a year, and help cut your carbon footprint, so you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too.

  1. When making a cuppa, only boil as much water as you need and save about £7 a year.
  2. Swap your old lightbulbs for energy-efficient one to save around £35 a year.
  3. Cutting out cold air coming, and hot air escaping through cracks in doors, windows and floorboards can save up to £50 a year. Pay particular attention to windows, doors, chimneys, fireplaces, floorboards, skirting boards, loft hatches.
  4. Turn down your thermostat by just 1ºC can save a typical household as much as £85 a year, according to Energy Saving Trust figures.
  5. Trading in your old washing machine, fridge, tumble dryer, or even television, for a more energy-efficient appliance could save you up to £239 a year (depending upon the appliances and how you use them).

3. Replace your old boiler

New boilers aren’t cheap – upgrades can cost upwards of £3,000, including installation – but, if you’re running an old G-rated boiler, updating your system to a high-efficiency condensing model, including programmable settings, could cut as much as £652 off your annual gas bills.

If you’ve already replaced your boiler, make sure you keep your system running as efficiently as possible by having it serviced each year, and ensuring radiators are working properly. Also make sure you make the most of its programmable settings and set the heating so it only comes on when necessary, and try to stick to this schedule.

4. Fit your home with a smart meter

The government had big plans to make sure every home in the UK was fitted with a smart meter by 2020, but hitting that deadline is looking increasingly unlikely, as the scheme has been hit by a number of setbacks, from meters going ‘dumb’ when customers switch supplier, to a shortage of engineers with the skills to install the meters.

If you’d rather not wait for your smart meter, installing a ‘smart heating controls’ like Nest and Hive could cut as much as 16% off your energy bills. The Nest Learning Thermostat, for instance, costs £279, including installation, and helps cut your bills by learning how and when you use energy and even adapt to weather conditions to heat your home more effectively.

If you haven’t got the money to spend on a smart heating control system, an energy monitor could be a good alternative. This simple, hand-held gadget costs around £25 (though some suppliers give them away free, so check with yours before you buy) and estimates how much energy you’re using, in real time, so you can see where you need to make changes.

How are you planning on cutting your energy bills this winter? Share your top tips with our energy saving community on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to run an energy price comparison, and see if you could be paying less for your gas and electricity.

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

Les Roberts - Energy Expert at UKPower

If you’ve got an issue with your energy supplier, our consumer champion Les is on hand to help. A decade in consumer affairs means Les understands how confusing energy tariffs can be, so he'll cut through the jargon to help make sure you get the best deal.