Step 1: Save energy
The Government, energy suppliers and local authorities all offer grants to help households reduce their impact on the environment by implementing energy saving measures. Average savings of £200 a year can be made by installing energy-saving heating and insulation. Find out more on the Energy Saving Trust website. Find out about grants that may be available by using the gov.uk energy grants calculator.
Step 2: Switch
If you've not already done so, it pays to compare prices and switch energy provider – you can save £100s with a few minutes' work.
Price comparison sites such as energyhelpline, uSwitch and MoneySuperMarket will compare prices – just say where you live and what you normally pay. If you do switch, your new provider can take care of the transfer process for you. Savings of up to 20% are possible the first time a household switches so even if you have switched before, it's worth doing the comparison exercise again to check the tariff is still competitive. Remember, dual fuel, where the consumer pays for both gas and electricity from the same provider, is not always the cheapest, so also compare prices for separate services. Citizens Advice also offers a comparison service that's free and impartial.
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Step 3: Warm Home Discount scheme
The Government's scheme gives a one-off discount of £140 (for the 2017/2018 financial year) off your electricity bill. It's not paid directly to you but comes off the electricity bill. It doesn't affect your Winter Fuel Payment or Cold Weather Payment. To be eligible, you must either receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or be on a low income and meet your energy provider's criteria for this scheme.
Step 4: Pay clever
Paying for fuel by fixed monthly Direct Debits will save up to 10% on the final bill. Make sure you do a meter reading every time a bill arrives to avoid over or under payments, which can be disruptive to cash flow later on.
Step 5: Conserve energy
According to the Energy Saving Trust, being energy efficient can cut as much as £270 off annual fuel bills. Before the cold weather sets in it is well worth doing a home energy audit. Stop draughts by installing low-cost brushes or PVC seals on exterior doors and fill gaps in floorboards and skirting boards with newspaper or sealant. Hot water tanks should be fitted with a tank jacket that is at least 3" thick, which should save £30 a year on fuel bills.
Step 6: Learn to adjust
While at home and awake, set the heating thermostat as low as is comfortable and then turn it right down while you are out or during the night. Just knocking it back for a few hours a day will be barely noticeable, but can save 10% on fuel bills.
* Teena Lyons' opinions are her own and for general information only. Always seek independent financial advice.
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