Household energy bills have begun to soar, an increase driven by gas prices hitting a record high as the world emerged from lockdown in 2021. Understanding how to lower a gas bill is becoming a critical housekeeping skill that we all need to learn.
It pays to understand how to save energy at home. Not only will this help you save money, but you’ll also be playing a part in reducing the use of fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change.
How to reduce a gas bill
According to Ofgem, households on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see an increase of £139 from £1,138 to £1277 per year on electricity and gas bills, while prepayment customers will see an increase of £153 from £1,156 to £1309.
Take a look at our list of top ideas you can implement in your home to help with energy conservation.
1. Review your energy bills
Unfortunately, switching energy providers to find a cheaper energy deal is pretty much a thing of the past since OfGem increased the energy price cap by £139 a year at the start of October 2021, with further increases expected in April 2022.
New research by Energy Saving Trust has found that energy bills could rise by £240 in 2022 for a typical three-bedroom, gas-heated home. However, while any savings are likely to be minimal, it is still worth considering how to switch energy suppliers and contacting your supplier to make sure you’re on the best tariff for your home’s energy usage and comparing it with competitor providers – especially if you’re about to come out of a fixed-rate tariff contract.
2. Don’t leave appliances on standby
There are lots of appliances that draw power even when they are on standby. Figures published by British Gas suggest that UK households waste an average of £30 a year powering appliances that they’re not even using. Whereas Energy Saving Trust believes you can save even more.
‘If you make sure that everything is switched off at the wall when you’ve finished with it you could save around £40 a year on your energy bills and 50 kg of CO2,’ says Brian Horne, Senior Insights & Analytics Consultant at Energy Saving Trust. ‘That’s the equivalent to driving 180 miles from Manchester to Newcastle,’ he says.
‘This sneaky energy usage is known as vampire power,’ says Andrew Collinge, Heating Product Manager at BestHeating. ‘To combat this, you could invest in a standby saver, which is a simple solution to help you navigate the minefield of energy wastage. Plug all your appliances into a standby saver and then programme it to respond to a single remote control. It will also automatically cut the power to an appliance when it realises it has gone into standby mode.’
3. Keep heating systems maintained
Another way to lower your gas bill is a yearly service by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. This will ensure your boiler is working at maximum capacity. During a service, the engineer will check, clean and replace parts and catch any potential problems before the system breaks down.
‘Keeping a system maintained doesn’t just help lower a gas bill, it will keep it both safe and working efficiently,’ says Andrew Collinge. ‘An efficient boiler uses less energy to heat a house, which means regular services can help keep energy costs lower.’
Martyn Bridges, Head of Technical Communication and Product Management at Worcester Bosch agrees: ‘It’s especially important to book in regular boiler services following a summer of infrequent use. Not having your boiler serviced could lead to faults, higher energy bills, and your warranty ending early.’
4. Replace an old boiler to reduce your gas bill
If your boiler is more than 12-15 years old, is expensive to run and is breaking down regularly, it might be time to consider a replacement boiler. ‘On average, over half of our annual household energy bills come from heating our homes,’ says Victoria Billings, Director of Marketing at Worcester Bosch. That’s why having an efficient and cost-effective heating system is vital, both for lowering your gas bill and for the environment.
‘While a new boiler can be expensive (usually upwards of £1,000), they are a good investment as a newer model will significantly cut your bills,’ says Andrew Collinge. Heating company Vaillant agrees, stating a 30 per cent reduction in bills for homeowners who invest in one of its energy-efficient boilers.
‘Modern boilers are all condensing boilers, which have a large heat exchanger. This means more heat is recovered and cooler gases are sent up the flue, making it more efficient,’ explains Andrew Collinge. ‘To put it into numbers, new A-rated boilers (any boiler over a 90 per cent efficiency) can give you 90p or more worth of heat for every £1 you put in.’
‘In contrast, this is 60-80p for every £1 in older models. Replacing your old boiler also has benefits for the environment. This is because a more efficient boiler will use less fuel to heat your house, reducing your carbon footprint,’ he says.
5. Turn down the water temperature
You should have the option on your boiler to lower the temperature of the hot water that comes out of your taps and shower heads. If you’re finding the water that comes out of it too hot to touch, you’re likely to be wasting gas and money, so try turning it down a few degrees until you reach the optimum temperature.
6. Invest in a smart thermostat
A smart thermostat allows you to operate your heating system remotely via an app on your mobile phone or tablet. Some will save your daily routine and work out the best usage for you, others will alter your settings depending on the weather. ‘Some smart thermostats can also adjust the temperature of your boiler output to make sure it’s always operating at optimum efficiency,’ says Brian Horne.
Sam Jump, Product Manager at Wunda Group even recommends teaming a smart thermostat with smart thermostatic radiator valves so you can remotely control exactly what rooms in your house are heated. ‘When utilised properly, it’s one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to improve energy ratings in your home, cutting heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions,’ says Sam.
7. Lower your thermostat to reduce your gas bill
According to Moneysavingexpert.com, for each degree you cut the thermostat you can expect to cut your energy bills by around four per cent. That’s about £65 a year on average for a typical home.
‘The World Health Organisation says that 18 degrees is enough for healthy adults, with slightly higher temperatures needed for the very old or young. So consider popping on a jumper at home and seeing what temperature your household is comfortable at,’ says Will Lynn at Moneysavingexpert.com.
Martyn Bridges agrees: ‘If you’re wondering about the most efficient way to heat your home, it’s best to tailor it to your lifestyle. Of course, due to the government’s current pandemic advice, we are all currently at home for the majority of our day. So think about keeping your home at a comfortable temperature for you and your family, but remember that you can wear layers too to save cash in the long run,’ he says.
8. Make sure your home is well insulated
None of the changes above will lower your gas bill if your home is old, draughty and leaky. Which is why insulating your home can significantly help reduce household energy bills. ‘Good insulation is key to making your home more energy efficient,’ says Brian Horne. ‘If you can maximise the thermal performance of your roof, walls, floor, windows and doors, that will give you the best possible foundation for becoming a low-energy household.’
‘When it comes to insulating your house, your roof should be the first place you look to,’ says Andrew Collinge. ‘This is because a roof can be responsible for more than 35 per cent of heat lost in a house. Roof insulation is the cheapest and quickest way to stop heat escaping. And the material used for this purpose can even be installed by keen DIYers,’ he explains.
Around a third of heat in an insulated home is lost through the walls according to the Energy Saving Trust. ‘Most homes in the UK have either solid walls that can be insulated from the inside or outside, or cavity walls, which have a gap that can be filled with insulation,’ says Brian Horne.
To reduce your gas bill, he advises installing floor insulation too. ‘If you have a newer home, it will most likely have solid concrete floors, onto which you can add a layer of rigid insulation, whereas older homes with suspended timber floors can be insulated by fitting a layer of mineral wool under the floorboards,’ says Brian Horne.