If you dread the sound of your energy bills hitting the doormat then you might need to have a look at this. The average UK household spent £1,400 a year on gas and electricity in 2014, or £120 a month. Living a two tonne lifestyle would see you spending around £600 a year. That’s a saving of around £800 a year, and a tonne or more of green house gas, or g.h.g. for short (depending on how you heat your home, and how many people live in it.). Of course you want to be comfortable at home, but the costs can quickly spiral out of control. If you reach for the heating controls every time you feel the slightest bit chilly, and run the air con throughout the summer, then your savings are going to be more limited. If we assume that you are similar to me – i.e. keen to reduce your spend/ carbon footprint, and are happy to put a jumper on when its cool, but don’t want to be uncomfortable at home, then the scope for big savings improves considerably.
Here are the top things you can do quickly to slash that £100 plus bill each month:
Get the free LiveLight apps
LiveLight is about sharing the apps I have developed and used over the years to help me save cash. For starters, I highly recommend trying the free LiveLight cost and carbon snapshot. It takes 5 minutes, and will give you a great starting point to go from. You just need to sign up for a free account. Your results will be saved in your account, and you can do another snapshot in a year (or whenever you like) and see what progress you have made.
The other free software you will get access to with a free membership account is the LiveLight Home Cost Tracker. I have been using this for over 10 years now, and as a result my bills have plummeted to less than half the U.K. average. The basics of it are that at the end of each month you put in your gas and electricity readings (and any other fuel you buy if you like). Over time, you build up a picture (graphs and everything!) of how much you are spending, and what on. As part of the free membership version, you also get monthly reminders to take readings. It all takes no more than a couple of minutes. But how does simply monitoring in this way reduce your spend? Well, for starters you can’t save what you don’t count – if you take readings at the end of each month you will know whether you are making any difference when you turn stuff off or down. There’s nothing like seeing improvement over time. Monitoring your home costs makes everything a bit more focused.
Change your energy supplier
Most of us are on ‘standard tariffs’ if we’ve been with the same supplier for a long time. These are usually higher than a switch tariff. You can quite feasibly save £300 a year or more by switching. For an idea of exact savings, use a comparison site. LiveLight has partnered with uSwitch Gas and Electricity although there are plenty of other well known comparison sites out there that will also get you results.
I like the uSwitch site because the comparison tool is pretty quick and easy. It’s also a doddle to pick out the top 100% renewable energy deals as well as non-renewables from across the energy market – you just fill in the form, get the results, then click on the ‘Green Plan’ filter on the left of the screen. I would always recommend 100% renewable energy providers, as buying your energy from these smaller companies means more investment in renewables across the U.K. – and renewables must play a major part in the fight against climate change and making the UK energy independent. I would also be careful not to assume that clean energy means it will be more expensive – nearly all of the renewable energy tariffs will be much cheaper than any of the tariffs from the big companies if you haven’t changed tariffs or providers in a long time. By way of example, a quick search in my area picked up two renewable energy providers that would both save over £400 a year over average usage figures on NPower’s standard tariff.
If you are certain you’d like to switch to clean energy, the Big Clean Switch might be just the site for you. Big Clean Switch only deals with 100% renewable providers, and can sometimes get lower rates than through other sites. It’s definitely worth a look! There are new renewable energy companies joining the market all the time, as interest and support for clean energy grows. The top renewable energy companies that stand out for me are Good Energy and Ecotricity. I’ve been a Good Energy customer for years, and LiveLight has been partnered with Good Energy since 2013, so obviously I recommend them as a company. Ecotricity were the first clean energy company in the UK, and have been around since 1996. In 2011 the company also pioneered ‘green gas’ – gas from plants rather than fossil fuels, which is a huge step forward. Their reputation for innovation has continued, with developments such as free charging points around the country for electric car owners.
So to sum up again – get switching!
Turn stuff off when you’re not using it
Come on. It’s really flipping easy. Saves a fortune. Costs nothing.
Get an electricity monitor
An electricity monitor gives you an idea of how much electricity your household is using at any moment in time. Just as athletes have a ‘resting pulse rate’, your home has an amount of energy that it is using, even when all of the usual appliances are turned off. Put your energy monitor somewhere where you can check it easily, then keep an eye on it. We sell the Eco Eye range of energy monitors, as they are British designed and easy to use, but there are plenty of others out there too.
Replace your ‘energy vampires’
When you’re buying a new electrical item, cost is bound to be a big factor in deciding what to buy. But the headline price is only part of the overall lifetime cost. Sust-it.net is a website that lets you make these tricky comparisons quickly and easily. The difference in running costs of appliances can be huge, and at least you have a complete picture of the costs when you are buying that shiny new home appliance. Similarly, knowing how much energy an old appliance is using can help to decide whether its time to take the hit and replace it. Running costs for old items can be a bit eye watering for older or poorly designed appliances, and savings on your electricity bill can quickly outweigh the upfront cost of the new shiny thing.
If you’ve done all this….
…then you are probably ready to think about maybe installing some other energy saving measures on a larger scale. These can include improving your home’s insulation, biomass heating, solar electricity, solar hot water, and so on. These can all be fantastic, but they do usually require more spend and more effort. Some are clearly not right for everyone, but they can also make huge reductions in your home’s running costs, as well as increasing your comfort levels.