24 November 2017 : 
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Despite the recent price cuts announced by the major providers, the average energy bill for UK households is expected to be around £1,242 this year. This represents an increase of more than 100% over the past decade.

With more than half (54%) of consumers surveyed admitting that they had “gone cold at home” in the winter due to the cost of gas and electricity, it’s more important than ever to get a handle on your energy bills.

prepare for a cold winter now

If the figures were reflected across the UK, it would mean that six million households turn off their heating to save money. Other cost-cutting measures people used were wearing a hat, scarf, or coat indoors (24%); visiting family and friends (12%); or even going to libraries and coffee shops (75%).

So, while it might be the height of summer, now is actually the perfect time to start thinking about your energy bills.

Switch or let them get rich

Unfortunately, there is no place for loyalty in the energy market. You might feel obliged to stay with the same provider, but the reality is that it’s probably costing you an arm and a leg.

If you’ve not switched your tariff recently, or ever, chances are you could be saving hundreds of pounds each year. Surely it’s worth just taking a look to see how much you could cut your bills by? You might be surprised.

Compare gas and electricity providers online to find who offers the cheapest deal. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a select few, make sure you check out the customer reviews. Sometimes it’s worth paying a few quid more to get decent service.

How to find the lowest tariff

Searching for different energy providers is easy; there’s the so-called ‘Big Six’, but there’s also an increasing number of smaller suppliers entering the market.

However, comparing the actual electricity and gas tariffs can be quite confusing.

Unless you have your energy consumption to hand, the online tool will estimate your usage, meaning that the annual bill quoted might be much higher, or lower, than reality. It may all differ between providers, so you have no real idea of who’s giving the best deal.

To find the cheapest tariff, look at the tariff comparison rate (TCR). This is the rate that energy providers must show, to help people compare prices. It accounts for the actual cost per kWh and the daily standing charge, giving you a better idea of which tariff is cheaper.

Why switch now?

If you choose to pay your electricity and gas bill by direct debit, your energy provider will average out your monthly payment over the course of the year.

As you’ll be using less energy to heat your home throughout summer, you’ve probably built up a credit on your account, resulting in a refund when you switch.

On the flip side, you will also have enough time to start building up the funds on account in time for winter, so any hefty bills you face will be reduced.

While some of the energy providers have announced price cuts, there’s nothing to stop them increasing prices again as winter hits. By switching and fixing now, you’ll get the cheaper rates and not have to worry about hikes throughout the cold season.

How else can I cut my energy bill?

If you’ve already switched to a new provider, and are getting the cheapest energy possible, there are still ways that you can prepare for a cold winter.

The majority of the heat you produce is lost through the walls, but installing cavity wall insulation can knock £110 a year off your annual bill. It does cost around £250 to get the work done, but the Energy Saving Trust may be able to cover this, so you’ll be saving in no time at all.

Heat is lost through the roof as well as the wall, so add 270mm of insulation into the loft, and save up to £145 a year. It’s pretty cheap to buy insulation and do it yourself, but again grants are sometimes available.

Your windows are also a major cause of heat loss. If you’ve still got single glazing, you can upgrade to double glazing and save around £140 a year. However, the initial outlay is pretty high.

For a cheaper alternative, fix some plastic film to your window. You attach it with tape and use a hairdryer to shrink it to fit. Kits are cheap – working out at around £2 a window – but you’ll probably have to redo it next year.

Jemma Porter - Image Jemma Porter - Signature
Jemma Porter is a news & research reporter for compareandsave.com. Having worked as a journalist on a number of personal finance websites; she now spends time researching and commenting on UK personal finance stories and investigating new ways to help our readers save money. For press inquiries, please visit our Media Centre.

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