We all know that the cost of living is a hot topic right now.
Household bills are going up day by day.
Many people are struggling with the massive hike in energy prices, with most reporting a 50% increase on their monthly direct debit.
And it seems that the Government have little power to prevent it. There was talk of a windfall tax placed on the energy companies, but that wasn't enforced. So, when the time came for the energy companies' planned increase, people had no choice but to accept the new costs and pay the bill.
Even companies like ''Take care of my bills'' from Dragon's Den fame, which was set up to automatically move customers to the best available tariff, have admitted defeat. They're all astronomically high! They can't move customers to the best available tariff because there isn't one.
The most competitive suppliers, often the smaller firms, were sadly chewed up and spit back out, as many went bust recently.
With no cheaper alternative options, there is no choice but to pay the new higher prices.
We are likely to see people making more eco-friendly choices to save money.
And who knows, perhaps this will positively impact the planet too?
It's all very stressful and not made any easier when you see the annual profits reported by companies like Shell!
Even before they increased energy costs, they reported profits of a whopping £19.3 billion!!! Yes, that's with a 'B'!
Imagine how happy they are now they've been allowed to increase their costs by this considerable amount.
Expect their profits to go through the roof next year!
It would seem that we can't beat them, so what can we do?
How can we cut back a little here and there to try and reduce this huge monthly expense?
We may see a return to a way of life from generations before - remember your Grandad shouting to turn the lights off? Or screaming to shut the door before you let the heat out?
We've come up with a few ideas to help reduce your energy usage and lower those hefty bills.
- Check the tariff: Firstly, make sure you're on the cheapest possible tariff available. This can be done with a quick search online with moneysupermarket.com or takecareofmybills.co.uk.
- Pay by direct debit: You could be paying too much if you are not paying your energy bills by direct debit. Get in touch with your energy supplier and ask if you can be switched over to a direct debit payment. Prepayment meters are charged more per unit than direct debit payers.
- Control the heat in each room individually: Separate thermostatic controls will allow you to turn the heat off or down in rooms you're not using.
- Turn lights off: Very simple. If you're not in a room, turn the lights off. And, consider if you actually NEED a light on in the room at all. You probably don't need a light on during the daylight hours, but we've become used to having lamps on all day because it feels cosy.
- Don't standby: Turn appliances off at the sockets, don't just leave them on standby. It's estimated that the average household could save up to £47 a year on their electricity bill simply by turning appliances off completely when not in use, rather than leaving them on standby.
- LED lights: Consider changing your lightbulbs to LED bulbs. Although they are a little more expensive to buy initially, they are much cheaper to run and last longer than traditional lightbulbs.
- What's 1 degree?: Reducing your thermostat by 1 degree could reduce bills by £80 per year! The average household would not even notice that difference in the temperature in their home.
- Get Smart: Consider fitting a smart thermostat so that you aren't paying to heat your house when no one is home and can control the temperature easily.
- Block draughts: A simple draught excluder can help to warm up your home without turning the heating up. It'll prevent the heat your radiators have generated (and you've paid for) from escaping through the gaps around your doors.
- Hang it out: Consider hanging your washing out to dry rather than using a tumble dryer as we move into the warmer months.
- Through the night: Run your machines at night. The most expensive times to use energy during the day are between 4 and 7pm. Try to avoid these times if you can to get the lowest possible price for the units of energy that you use. The lowest prices are between 10pm, and 5am.
- Don't overfill: If your machines are over-filled, they have to work harder to complete the task. This could also mean rerunning the appliance if the clothes are not adequately cleaned or dry.
- Keep it cool: A 30-degree cycle on your washing machine can reduce energy usage by up to half compared to a 40-60 degree cycle, and the result will be much the same.
- Go Eco: It is more efficient to run the eco cycles, even if it takes longer.
- Get some balls: If you have to run the tumble dryer, invest in some tumble dryer balls. These will keep the clothes separated inside the drum so that the air can circulate and the water can evaporate more efficiently. Meaning that you will dry the clothes faster and therefore not have to run the machine for as long.
- Shift down a gear: Have you tried to move down a grade with your food shopping. All supermarkets run several ranges within their stores, so you could switch to their own brand rather than buying the Finest range. Or even value ranges. Or perhaps you might want to try changing to a cheaper supermarket altogether, such as Aldi or Lidl. You could save a significant amount on your weekly shop.
- Get cooking: It's almost always cheaper to cook from scratch than buying ready-made food. Even something as simple as a jar of pasta sauce will set you back somewhere around £1. But making a quick, simple tomato sauce with a tin of chopped tomatoes, onion and garlic, and oregano could be half of the price.
- Stock up on staples: Rice and pasta can be the base of many family meals, and they are very cheap to buy.
- Be a night owl: By going shopping late at night, you can take advantage of the discounted short date stock. Look for the yellow stickers!
- Don't overfill your kettle: If you're boiling the kettle to make a cup of tea, only fill it to the amount of water you need. Otherwise, you are paying for the energy to boil litres of water that you will leave to go cold again!
- Put a lid on it: If a recipe calls for boiling water, use lids on your pans to bring the water to the boiling point faster. Or even better, use the kettle to boil the water before you add it to the pan as the kettle is more efficient energy usage than the hob.
- Go slooooooww!: Try using a slow cooker for cooking some meals. Running your oven is very expensive. If you're making something for dinner that requires a long time in the oven, consider using a slow cooker instead. They're very cost-effective, your home will smell amazing as it cooks throughout the day, and you can make the BEST pulled pork ever!
- Microwave for the win!: Microwaves are much faster than using an oven, so they use less electricity for cooking food.
Whilst none of these tips or ideas will change the actual price of the units of energy from the suppliers, they could help you use LESS of those pricey little units.
If you have any tips or tricks, we'd love to hear them!