Millions of people are paying over the odds for their energy bills. This Big Energy Saving Week, we’re encouraging you to make a BIG difference by making a handful of changes.
We’ve got some top tips, useful information and advice to help you understand your energy use, see how you could cut your fuel bills, and check whether there is any financial support you may be entitled to.
Find out about:
- Ways to save
- Check and switch supplier
- Saving money on energy in rural areas
- Getting additional help
Use your power to make a big difference
You might be paying too much for your energy supply or missing out on discounts, grants or support.
You could save hundreds of pounds by switching your energy tariff or supplier. Find out more at energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk
Even small changes can cut your bills, make your home more energy efficient and help reduce carbon emissions.
Quick tips to help you use power to save…
- You could save hundreds of pounds by switching energy supplier or changing tariff. Visit energycompare.citizensadvice.org.uk to compare prices. You might be able to switch even if you owe your supplier money. Talk to your local Citizens Advice for more details.
- Read your meter regularly and check your bills to find out how much energy you’re using and that you’re not paying too much.
- Talk to your supplier or local Citizens Advice if you think your bill is wrong or have problems paying. You could be entitled to benefits, grants or discounts to boost your income and lower costs.
- Make your home energy efficient – Insulate lofts and walls, and get your boiler serviced or replaced to make sure it’s energy efficient. There may be schemes that can help you pay for this.
- Save money and energy – Small changes can make a difference. Using low energy lightbulbs or turning down the thermostat by 1 degree can save you money.
This Big Energy Saving Week we are urging people to use their power to make a big difference.
There are some easy steps you can take to save money and energy by changing the way you use appliances or making your home more energy efficient.
Download our ‘20 ways to save [ 1.3 mb]’ guide packed with easy, expert-approved, ways to save energy and money, or read all 20 listed below.
20 Ways to Save
Easy, expert-approved, energy-saving actions
Save in the kitchen
- Use a bowl to wash-up rather than running a tap, reduce your washing machine use by one cycle a week, and only fill the kettle with the water you need and you could save around £36 a year in the kitchen.
- A dripping tap can waste more than 5,300 litres of water a year, so make sure your taps are properly turned off and change washers promptly when taps start to drip.
Save in the bathroom
- Spend one minute less in the shower each day and a family of four could save £75 a year on energy and water bills.
- A running tap wastes more than 6 litres of water every minute, so turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, shaving, or washing your face.
- Replacing an inefficient shower head with a water efficient one could save a household of four people around £70 a year off gas bills and around £115 a year off water bills.
Save on lighting
- Turn your lights off when you’re not using them. If you switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again. This will save you around £14 a year on your annual energy bills.
- Replace your bulbs as and when you can with energy efficient LEDs – on average it could save about £35 a year on bills.
Save on appliances
- Turning your appliances off standby mode can save you £30 a year and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
Save on heating
- If you have a timer on your central heating system, set the heating and hot water to come on only when required.
- If you turn down your main thermostat by 1 degree, you can around 10% on your energy bill. But make sure your home is warm enough during cold weather. Cold homes can damage your health.
- Installing a room thermostat, a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves and using these controls efficiently could save you around £75 a year.
- Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows and check for draughts around windows and doors.
- Draught-proofing of window and doors and blocking cracks in floors and skirting boards can save around £20 a year on energy bills.
Save by switching
- Use the Citizens Advice energy price comparison tool to see if you can save money by switching energy tariff or supplier.
Save by getting extra support
- Do a home energy check to find out about savings of up to £130 a year on household energy bills. Visit the Simple Energy Advice website and get personalised energy savings advice.
- Visit your local Citizens Advice office to get advice in person about how to reduce your energy bills.
- If anyone in your household is receiving benefits, contact your energy supplier and see what support they can provide. They should be able to tell you what help is available through the Energy Company Obligation.
- If you need a little extra help from your energy company - including large print bills or more support during a power cut - you can apply to be added to your electricity network priority services register.
- Check if you are eligible for the Warm Home Discount. Energy suppliers can provide rebates to households on certain benefits. The rebate is £140 for 2019/20 and you should contact your electricity supplier directly to see if you qualify.
- If you live in Wales, contact the Welsh Government’s Nest scheme on 0808 808 2244 to see if you are eligible for a package of free home energy efficiency improvements such as a new boiler, central heating or insulation.
Get help to make your home energy efficient
There are a number of schemes from the government, energy suppliers, local councils and others that may be able to help.
Energy Companies Obligation (ECO)
This scheme gives grants for loft and cavity wall insulation and efficient boilers to people on certain benefits across Britain. Note, help for boilers through this scheme is very limited. People not on certain benefits but on a low income may get help under the ‘ECO local flexibility’ scheme which some local authorities have set up with fuel companies. ECO is delivered by the larger energy companies who each have slightly different rules for the help they give. While ECO is the largest scheme in England, there are sometimes other sources of help at a local level.
Find out more in England and Wales by visiting www.simpleenergyadvice.org.uk.
Energy bills are a significant concern for households but you could save money on your fuel bill by simply checking you’re not paying more than you need to for your energy. Follow our three simple steps below and you could reduce your fuel bill without having to cut down on the energy you use.
Check you are getting the best deal from your current supplier
- Switching suppliers isn’t the only way to get a better deal.
- Most suppliers offer discounts for managing your account online or choosing a ‘dual fuel’ deal.
- You should get personalised information on your bill about the cheapest tariff your supplier can offer you, and how much you can save. If your circumstances change in the meantime, call your supplier to discuss your options.
Use our price comparison tool to compare prices from different energy suppliers.
Check if there is a better way to pay your bills
- The way you pay your bill can also make a difference. For example, most suppliers offer a discount for paying your bill by direct debit. On average it is £100 cheaper per year to pay by monthly direct debit than paying by cash or cheque.
- You may also get discounts for receiving bills online, as this cuts down on paper and reduces costs for the supplier, and is good for the environment.
- Contact your supplier directly to find out if there is a better way for you to pay, and that might save you money.
Check you are getting all the benefits and help you are entitled to
- Making sure you are receiving all the help you are entitled to will make paying for fuel bills and other household expenses easier.
- Did you know that over £20bn in benefits and tax credits goes unclaimed in the UK? That's enough to pay the fuel bills of millions of homes!
- If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, or simply want to make sure that you are getting all the financial help you are entitled to, your local Citizens Advice can help you to check that you are not missing out on any benefits or tax credits that could boost your income.
If you've reached state pension age you may get a Winter Fuel Payment to help with winter heating costs. This will be paid in the same way your benefit or pension is paid. If you’ve not received a Winter Fuel Payment before, phone the Winter Fuel Payments helpline on 0800 731 0160 to apply.
Some people who receive benefits can also get a Cold Weather Payment of £25 if the temperature drops below freezing in their local area for seven days in a row. You don't need to apply – if you are eligible it will be paid automatically in the same way you receive your benefits.
The Warm Home Discount scheme is a Government scheme, whereby energy suppliers provide rebates to households on certain benefits. The rebate is £140 for 2018/19 and you should contact your electricity supplier directly to see if you qualify.
Many people stay on the same tariff or with the same energy supplier for years, without realising they could be getting a better deal elsewhere. By switching tariffs or suppliers, or joining an oil club, you could save hundreds on your fuel bill.
Take control of your energy costs - why pay more than you have to?
Switch suppliers or tariffs
Make sure you can enjoy a comfortable, healthy home without the anxiety of ever-rising costs. If you’ve never switched before, it is well worth having a look around to see what’s on offer.
Check whether you could save money with the Citizens Advice energy price comparison tool which is free, uses a full market comparison, totally independent and gives us a customer service rating out of 5 stars for the major energy companies.
We also have advice and tips on what to think about when switching.
If you don't have internet access you can phone the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06.
To make sure you get the best deal, you’ll need to have some information with you including, the name of your current supplier and tariff, the among of energy you use, how you currently pay and your postcode.
Other suppliers have also signed up to the Energy Switch Guarantee, which commits them to provide a reliable and hassle-free switch.
Switching suppliers - more information
You can find out more about switching suppliers or for more detailed information, check our advice pages:
- Switch energy supplier
- Compare gas and electricity prices
- Save money on your gas and electricity
- Understanding energy tariffs
- Switching energy supplier if you’re a tenant
- Switching energy supplier if you’re in debt
Use heating oil for fuel?
If you use heating oil it can be more difficult for you to shop around and feel hard to switch supplier. But you do have some options - the Oil save website can help you find out about alternative suppliers in your area, and to get a better deal you might consider joining or setting up a local oil buying club.
Oil clubs are a great way to save money on fuel costs. In simple terms, you can use the collective buying power of a group in your local area to negotiate a better deal from oil suppliers by buying in bulk and getting deliveries at the same time. Discounts of up to 10 per cent are possible, and they also help the environment by cutting down the number of tanker journeys on roads. Find out more on ACRE’s website (England only).
Download our guide on Saving money on energy in rural areas for additional advice and information.
If you’re struggling to afford your gas and electricity bills, contact your supplier to discuss ways to pay what you owe them. Your supplier has to help you come to a solution. You should try to negotiate a deal that works for both of you. If you don’t try to negotiate with your supplier, they might threaten to disconnect your supply.
You can find more advice and information on the following advice pages:
- What to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills
- Grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills
- What to do if your energy supplier is threatening to disconnect your gas or electricity
- Complaining to your energy supplier
- If you need more help
Find out more at bigenergysavingweek.org.uk or call the consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
First published 20 January 2020.