With the cost of living rising at the fastest rate for 30 years due to climbing food and energy bills, consumer groups are warning that the worst is yet to come. Gas and electricity prices are set to increase by as much as 50% for some households when the energy price cap changes in April 2022. With 85% of the UK’s homes using gas for heating and one third of UK electricity generated via gas too, it’s easy to see how households are vulnerable in the face of price rises.
Heating and hot water accounts for over 50% of average fuel bills, and so key to cutting costs will be how you use your appliances and the general energy efficiency of your home. Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said, “While we cannot escape the fact prices are rising, there are steps households can take to cut the impact of higher bills. Saving energy doesn't have to mean a colder home, it just means controlling energy use better and improving the way your heating and hot water system works. While there are many steps householders can take themselves without any outlay, it’s always worth talking to a professional about the ways to improve your system’s performance to help lower your bills.“
As fuel bills and inflation rise, so will rates of fuel poverty. Estimates before the energy price cap increase in October 2021, put fuel poverty at around 13% of households in England, 25% in Scotland, 12% in Wales and 18% in Northern Ireland. The three primary causes are low incomes, high energy bills and energy inefficient homes.
“Practical steps need to be taken to protect vulnerable households,” Kevin resumed. “As the energy market continues to fluctuate, no one knows how far prices will rise, or how long for. One thing is for sure, if you are having issues paying your energy bills, don’t ignore the problem. Please talk to your supplier straight away. They are well versed in the help schemes available and can talk you through your options.”
The CIPHE has the following tips to cut costs:
1) If you are not already using heating controls such as a boiler thermostat, room thermostat and timer, start doing so now. This will allow you to heat your home only when you need to, dropping your energy use by not heating your home unnecessarily.
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) Turning your thermostat down by 1oC can save money on your bills while still keeping your home comfortable.
4) Smart controls can make your boiler work harder for you. Not only can you pre-programme your heating, but you can turn it off and on or change the temperature while on the move via a mobile app. Some controls can even gain information from outside temperatures and weather forecasts, adjusting your heating requirements accordingly.
5) Don’t run appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers on a half load. While some washing machines will reduce water consumption, most washing machines and dishwashers will use the same amount of water and energy regardless. If your appliance has one available, switch to an eco mode or use a lower temperature wash.
6) Take a shower instead of a bath to reduce both water and water heating costs.
7) Turn appliances such as TVs off rather than leaving them on standby.
8) Maintain your boiler. Servicing ensures it is working safely and at its peak efficiency. Annual servicing also helps expand the life of your boiler. The last thing you need is a costly breakdown on top of high energy bills.
9) 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. Free grants are available from some energy suppliers under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
10) Don’t use 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.
11) 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.
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