The headlines are full of news about rising gas prices and energy company bailouts, as wholesale gas prices have increased by an astronomical 250% since January. With warnings of huge energy bills for those coming to the end of their fixed deals, householders will be understandably worried about the impact on their income and their ability to pay.
With heating and hot water accounting for over 50% of fuel bills, it’s easy to see how the costs can add up. The Resolution Foundation has found that families on Universal Credit are four times as likely as the wider population to be on pre-payment meters. While the energy price cap is set to rise by £139 a year (12 per cent) to £1,277 for average gas and electricity customers from 1 October, those on pre-payment meters are facing a larger increase of £153 (13 per cent). With the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift also ending in October, the timing couldn’t be worse.
Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said, “Fuel and water poverty is a growing problem in the UK. According to government statistics approximately 3.66 million households are fuel poor and around 3 million households are unable to pay water bills. Lone parents with dependents make up nearly 19%, with fuel poverty the highest in the private rented sector. We have been urging Government to bring in policies to target the energy efficiency of dwellings and tackle the issues associated with poverty at source. Those on low incomes should pay fair and competitive tariffs for energy use. It is outrageous they are subjected to higher price rises than the average customer.”
The CIPHE has the following tips to help households cut costs:
1) Saving energy doesn't have to mean a colder home – it just means controlling energy use better and improving the way your heating system works. Controls such as a boiler thermostat, room thermostat and timer will allow you to heat your home only when it is occupied, allowing you to drop your energy use.
2) Heat only the spaces you are using. Fit thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) to your radiators so you can turn off the heating in unoccupied spaces, such as spare bedrooms.
3) Use smart controls to make your boiler work harder for you. Not only can you pre-programme your heating, but you can talk to it while on the move via a mobile app. Many will also gain information from outside temperatures and weather forecasts, so they can adjust your heating requirements accordingly.
4) If your network allows it, install a smart meter to see where your energy use is high.
5) Maintain your appliances. Servicing ensures your boiler is working safely and at its peak efficiency. Annual servicing also helps expand the life of your boiler.
6) Insulate and draught proof your home. If your roof is un-insulated, you will be losing around a quarter of the heat from your home through the roof space. Draught-proofing improvements (i.e. blocking up unwanted gaps surrounding windows, doors and chimneys) will also help you save on energy bills and keep your house warm.
7) Ditch appliances like electric fan heaters. It will cost you several times the money to heat a room via a fan heater than it will via a central heating system.
8) If your boiler is reaching the end of its working life, take the plunge and replace it. Modern day boilers are highly efficient, so although initially costly, an efficient model can save £££’s on your heating bills.
9) Don’t run appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers on a half load. While some washing machines will reduce water consumption accordingly, most washing machines and dishwashers will use the same amount of water and energy regardless.
10) Take a shower instead of a bath to reduce both water and water heating costs.
11) If you are coming to the end of your fixed price energy tariff, shop around for the best deal.
12) If you are having issues paying your energy or water bills talk to your supplier straight away. Help schemes are in place and your supplier can talk you through your options.
If you need to improve the efficiency in your home, your local plumbing or heating engineer can help. Find a professional online via the CIPHE’s search tool at www.ciphe.org.uk, by phoning 01708 472791 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.