Energy costs are rising. Annual fuel bills for the average household have reached £1,420, according to the energy regulator Ofgem. So how can you cut the cost of yours?
These are some basic ways of making your home more energy efficient and saving money.
1. Put a jacket on | If you have an uninsulated hot water cylinder, you could save money by fitting a tank jacket. You can also insulate exposed pipework around the cylinder and boiler. The materials for the whole lot will cost you around £25. You can fit everything yourself and save about £60 a year.
2. Get in control | Installing a room thermostat (if you don't have one) will save you around £70 a year. You can then make savings by using your controls more effectively. Decide when you want the heating to come on, only heat the areas in your home where it's needed and decide on a temperature. Turning down your room thermostat by just one degree will save around £65 a year.
3. Destroy draughts | Check for gaps around your doors, windows, floor, chimney or anywhere heat may be escaping. Use draught-proofing products for the doors and windows, fit a chimney draught excluder or use sealed fire guards. Also seal your skirting boards with silicone sealant. Depending on the size of your home these materials cost up to £160. It will take around two years for this investment to pay for itself - savings are up to £75 a year.
4. Check up top | Double-check your loft insulation to see if it needs to be replaced or topped-up. If your loft has nothing in place, 270mm of insulation can save you up to £180 a year. Topping up your loft insulation from 100mm to 270mm can save you around £25.
5. Turn it off | Electricity switches | The average family could save between £50 and £90 a year just by remembering to turn appliances off ( if they aren't doing it already). If you turn a light off for even a few seconds, you'll save more energy than it takes to switch on again. That applies to all light bulb types. Nearly all electrical appliances can be turned-off at the plug without upsetting their systems. The only exceptions are satellite and digital TV recorders. They should be left plugged-in for recording programmes.
Check the instructions on any appliances you're not sure about.
6. Take care in the kitchen | you can save another £40 a year with careful use of kitchen appliances. Set your washing machine to wash at 30C. Only use your tumble dryer when you can't dry clothes outside. Don't fill your kettle to the top, just boil the amount of water you need. It's estimated three-quarters of British households overfill their kettles, wasting £68m a year in energy costs.
7. Change your head | A family of four will save around £75 a year by installing an eco-showerhead. They can cut your hot water use with no noticeable difference and are being given away free by some water companies. They can be used if your shower takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank.
8. Get the right light | Most of us have changed from traditional light bulbs to energy saving ones. But there is now a range of lower energy bulbs that you can install to save you more money. Even halogen spot lights can be replaced - the new LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are bright enough to do the job. They are priced between £4 and £20 and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and fittings. If your supermarket doesn't stock them, most DIY stores do. The Energy Saving Trust recommended logo can give an indication of light quality and durability.
For the average household, changing all bulbs would cost around £125. The low energy versions would last longer and save around £60 a year.
26 Million People Struggling Financially | Over 5,000 people participated in the survey, with more than 70 families monitored over the period of one year for the Financial Capability of The UK Report, which uncovered “a common sentiment that people worry about their capability to endure until the next payday”. – The crown management
Twenty percent of those polled stated that they would prefer to have £200 at present than £400 after four months, with twenty-five percent of people replying they choose to live for the present rather than plan for the future. The report also showed that a disturbing number of Britons are deficient in financial awareness. About 12 percent of those asked believed the Bank of England’s base rate, which has been at a remarkable 0.5 percent low for over four years, was over 10 percent.
A “live for the moment” culture and lack of financial smarts were also discovered to be possible reasons.
Over one third of the people asked did not comprehend the great effect that inflation has on their savings and 16 percent could not tell the right balance on a bank statement. Nevertheless, more encouraging result from the survey revealed that the number of people checking their bank account statements had grown since 2006 and almost 84 percent of people said they constantly monitored their finances.
40 percent of those questioned said they stay clear of doubtful dealings and 85 percent said they were laying aside some money in savings. Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the MAS, said: “In principle, financial management is easy – spend less than you make and think about your future – but the challenge comes from how we apply it in actual life.”
The MAS, an autonomous body established by the Government, has a legal duty of enhancing public awareness and knowledge about financial issues. It plans to publish a method to assist citizens improve their financial condition next year.