Summerís over and so are low energy bills or are they?

Making sure you are on an appropriate energy tariff and becoming more energy efficient at home are the best ways to keep energy bills manageable this winter. Recent surveys suggest 38 per cent of consumers are concerned about energy bills rising this winter. Last winter households who switched their energy provider saved on average £220 or 17 per cent based on an average household bill of £1,270.

In aid of assisting the British public protecting themselves from rising energy bills this winter, energyswitcheroo.com have compiled their Top Ten Tips for saving on household energy bills.

SWITCH ENERGY SUPPLIER ONLINE - Some people feel uncomfortable dealing with their finances online. However, when it comes to gas and electricity bills, those who are prepared to switch tariff online and receive their gas and electricity bills by email always end up with the cheapest bills. Don’t be put off by fear of the unknown. You can still contact the supplier by phone for any queries you have, whether it’s about your tariff, billing, gas leaks, power cuts or anything else.

PAY BY DIRECT DEBIT - A typical household could save around £50 on their gas and electricity bills a year simply by switching to direct debit. However, beware of paying too much or too little each month: ensure the direct debit accurately reflects your projected gas and electricity usage so you don’t build up a surplus with the supplier or suddenly get a big increase to your direct debit because you’ve fallen behind.

SHOP AROUND – DON’T ACCEPT PRICE INCREASES FROM YOUR CURRENT SUPPLIER - You have the right to refuse price increases on your tariff from your existing supplier. Online comparison tools allow you to quickly and easily search the entire energy market to find the best prices available. You can simply switch online and within 4-6 weeks your supply will transfer automatically.

CHOOSE A FIXED RATE DEAL  - Protect yourself from continuously rising gas and electricity prices by switching to a fixed rate contract. These contracts offer much more price stability in the volatile gas and electricity markets. Lock into a fixed rate contract for as long as possible and it will allow you to budget for a longer period.

READ YOUR METER REGULARLY - If you allow your supplier to bill you on estimated reads you could end up paying much more than needed on a monthly or quarterly basis. You should read your gas and electricity meters every three months at the least and register the readings with your supplier over the phone or via an online account. If you are in large amounts of credit with your supplier, request the money to be refunded. It is better to have the money in your account gaining interest rather than your supplier’s. If your supplier objects, quote ‘condition 27 of the Gas Supply Licence’. This states credit must be refunded and direct debits fair.

STAY UP-TO-DATE - Make a habit of checking tariffs online, every 6-12 months, to ensure that there are no new tariffs that could result in cheaper gas and electricity bills. If you are in a fixed term contract, it is possible that there will be early cancelation fees. However, if the savings made by switching to a new tariff outweigh the fee then it can be beneficial to continue with a switch.

TURN OFF AND REPLACE LIGHTS - Lighting accounts for 19 per cent of the average household’s electricity bill. By simply installing energy saving bulbs you could save £55 per year on you bills. The advantages of these new bulbs mean that they last at least three times longer, use 25 to 80 per cent less energy, and therefore save you money on your energy bills. Simple things like switching all the lights off when you pop to the shop or turning off lamps in hallways overnight could save £10 per year.

TURN APPLIANCES OFF – Unplug appliances that keep a light on when idle, including TVs, DVD players, and phone chargers, and wait until the dishwasher is full before you switch it on. One full load uses less energy than two half loads.

USE AN ENERGY MOINTOR – Energy monitors allow you to discover how much energy you’re using (or wasting). They attach to the main electricity line via the meter and give real time feedback. Small handheld wireless monitors can be kept or carried anywhere in your home. Energy monitors range in price depending on make and function. Plug-in energy monitors are also available to measure the power consumption on individual devices. Energy usage could drop between 5 and 15 per cent within the first year of using an energy monitor, which would mean saving £25-£75 on a £500 bill (Source: Energy Saving Trust).

REPLACE YOUR BOILER – You could see huge long-term gains by replacing an old boiler with a new more efficient model. According to the Energy Savings Trust, boilers account for around 55% of your total fuel usage. A boiler update could save you in excess of £240 per year.

To find out if you are on the best tariff for you, simply visit www.energyswitcheroo.com and try their free domestic comparison tool. You will also find much more information and tips on how to become more energy efficient.