Five ways to minimise your energy bills
Our top tips to help you reduce your energy bills
The clocks have gone back, winter is closing in and a familiar story dominates the headlines: energy bills are rising.
While this may seem like an inevitable event that the vast majority of people have resigned themselves to, the fact is that there are ways to minimise the impact of spiralling gas and electricity prices - and they don't require any substantial lifestyle changes, either.
From switching your supplier to monitoring your heating, the message is that it's the little things which can make a big difference - and here's how.
1. Switch your energy supplier
It's a drum that we've been banging for years, and recently The Sun even got involved as a means to encourage consumers to fight back against the power of the Big Six.
Most people will be able to switch their energy supplier online, while businesses can also get themselves a better deal to ensure they're not paying over the odds for their gas and electricity.
There are clear savings to be had by doing so, and households can reduce their bills by more than £100. Businesses can benefit to a far greater extent, often saving upwards of £1,000 - and much more - depending on their rate of consumption.
The process is quicker and more straightforward than you might expect, and given that you'll reap the rewards all year round it's well worth half an hour or so of your time.
2. Change your behaviour
Once you've got yourself a better energy deal, remembering to only use the power that you need is an effective way to keep your bills down.
The principle applies to households and businesses alike, with the simple idea being to not use energy unnecessarily.
At home that can mean switching off DVD players and TVs, while for small firms it could be shutting down computers when workers have gone home. They're little changes, but over the space of a year they can amount to major savings.
Taking the same approach to lighting is a sensible tactic, and energy efficient LED bulbs are an effective way to minimise your power consumption. Another great tip is to only boil the amount of water you're going to use whenever you turn on the kettle.
For a whole host of similar suggestions, check out the Energy Saving Trust's site.
3. Improve your energy efficiency
Under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, suppliers have to pay for efficiency upgrades in households that qualify for certain improvements.
Not everyone will be able to access these grants, but it's a great idea to check to see if you can, as it could mean that you're entitled to have better insulation and a new boiler fitted for free.
There are numerous upgrades that you might qualify for under the government's various schemes, so they're well worth researching - after all, improved efficiency should mean lower bills. Take a look at all the details on the Ofgem site.
4. Stay on top of your bills
The energy industry is a shopper's market, and people who switch regularly save the most money. This is because they know there's little risk involved with changing supplier, and many understand the value of searching for tariffs that don't carry a termination fee.
The process is slightly different for businesses because they're all on fixed term deals, but keeping an eye on your contract end dates is the best way to ensure you don't miss your next chance to switch or renew with your existing supplier - something that's vital to avoid being placed on more expensive rates.
5. Don't wait for the government
If there's anything we've learned from the past few years, it's that regulatory changes in the energy industry take an extremely long time to come into effect.
Rather than waiting around for a price freeze or cheaper gas and electricity, now is the time to take action and lower your bills - there are all sorts of measures you can adopt, and switching is the best place to start.