Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tips For Reducing Energy Bills

Now, I live in Scotland so I know more than most what a cold winter is like. I can also tell you that I HATE being cold, hate it, and so I am more than likely to turn up my heating and worry about the bills later on.

We’re constantly being told that times are tough and that we need to keep tightening our belts in order just to keep going. It’s a shock therefore that we are being told this week that we are set to see energy bills rise again in the near future.

The chief exec of Ofgem, Alistair Buchanan has said that the decline in the UK’s power production capacity will result in higher priced imports, and to offset this, a rise in our energy bills.
But why is this the case? Why does the consumer constantly have to take the brunt in order to combat the situation? With 5 million households and rising in the UK living in “fuel poverty”, another rise in fuel prices comes as extremely unwelcome news.

The problem lies in the fact that may of the power stations in the UK are either ageing or heavy polluters and must be removed from the network. This means that replacements will have to be built, but this is simply not happening. So what is the solution?

Ofgem have suggested that gas imports can fill the gap in the short term, but this is likely to be expensive due to competition. The UK renewables market is still too young to cope with the demand and so we will have to rely on our gas from other countries for the moment.

So is there anything we, the humble consumers do to try and reduce our bills? You may not think so when you hear the bill drop on the mat and wonder why it seems to be going up, but there are some easy steps you can take, and here are a few of them:
  • Exclude drafts! Take a bit of time and go round your home checking for any places where cold air could be getting in. The main culprits are windows and doors and you can easily and cheaply fix this problem. You can buy a range of effective draft proofing that doesn’t cost a fortune or for an even cheaper option, utilise some old clothes or bedding and make your own.
  • If you have curtains in your main rooms, you should consider adding a lining to them in order to conserve more heat and keep the chill out. I did this last winter and it really made a difference to my bedroom. Did I mention I hate being cold? This definitely made me a bit happier on dark Scottish winter mornings.
  • On a similar theme, put some extra blankets on your bed in the winter rather than turning up the heating, and also make sure you have the right weight of duvet if possible. I currently sleep on flannel sheets, with a high tog duvet, a throw and a comforter on top, all of which I’ve usually got pulled up to my ears! It helps, believe me.
  • I’ve become somewhat of a running joke among my family too for my overreliance on my hot water bottle too! It’s an oldie but a goodie this one and it’ll definitely keep you warm throughout the night.
  • If you can fit energy saving or lower energy light bulbs in your home then it’s worth considering. You don’t have to fit them in every room in the house, but certainly those 
  • rooms which you tend to use the most. I wasn’t overly keen on these and I found I took a bit of getting used to the light they gave, but after a while you get used to it and there are much better ones on the market these days which will give you the light levels of old style bulbs, but without the cost of running them.
  • One of the biggest culprits for keeping your meter spinning is the TV. Before you look horrified, I’m not suggesting you give up your TV, but it’s worth considering a standby reduction device. Instead of leaving your TV on standby all night and increasing your energy use, this device will turn off your TV when you press the remote. At the end of a long day, it’s so simple you don’t even have to worry about it, and you can go to bed (under your layers of blankets) not worrying about bills!
It looks as though the problem of rising energy bills isn’t going to go away just yet, so in the meantime we can take our own tiny steps to try and ease the pressure and keep ourselves warmer for longer!

JM is a keen green energy and environmental blogger and has written about a number of topics in this area, including those affecting UK energy companies.

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