Time to start planning for the winter...

WinterAs E.ON follows three of the big six energy suppliers in raising it's prices now is the time to start planning for what could be a very expensive winter for gas and electricity bills.

If you get started now, you can save yourself money in time for the arrival of the cold weather.

Expert Phil Paterson-Fox from Gocompare.com says it's time to plan for what could be a very expensive winter for millions of households: "Four of the big six have now declared their intentions regarding pricing ahead of the big winter bills. As the market becomes clearer it is worth householders looking at their existing tariff and seeing if they can get a better deal.

"Now is the time to get smart with your energy bill and start checking to see if you can do anything else to reduce your energy consumption."
First, some tips from Gocompare.com on how to save money on your energy bill:
1. Don't ignore the letter from your energy company which tells you your tariff has come to an end. Unless you tell them to do otherwise or switch to another provider, you will almost certainly be put on to the energy company's standard tariff and these are usually one of the most expensive options.
2. Fix at lower prices while you can. Although energy providers have recently announced big price hikes to their standard tariffs several providers are yet to increase their prices. Use a comparison site to check which companies are offering the best deals for your area but beware of switching to a variable tariff which may look good value now but may also be increased over the coming few months.
3. Check that the meter readings on your bills are accurate and if possible try to avoid estimated readings. Also, if you pay by monthly direct debit and build up a credit balance on your account you may want to request that it is paid back to you rather than off set against future bills. If you frequently build up a credit balance you should ask for your monthly payment to be reviewed.
4. Energy companies usually offer the best prices to customers who select an online tariff with online billing and who pay by monthly direct debit. If you're happy to be billed and pay your bills this way you may be able to get a lower tariff.
But what about saving energy?
Of course if you use less energy in the first place you'll save money too. But this doesn't mean you have to sit shivering in the cold and dark.

Insulation will make a huge difference, and it doesn't have to be that tricky to do. On the larger scale loft insulation will stop heat escaping through your roof, and right now you can buy one get one free on rolls of easy-lay loft insulation at Wickes - just £14.99 for 2. Insulating your hot water tank will help too, and a jacket should set you back about £7-£10.

Don't forget that for larger scale cavity wall and roof insulation, there are grants available to help you get these measures installed in your home - find out more about them from the Energy Saving Trust.
Even things like using the washing machine and dishwasher at lower temperatures and switching to energy saving lightbulbs can make a big difference to your bills over the course of the year.

Getting a home energy monitor is also a great idea - being able to see exactly how much energy you're using - and how much it's costing you - is usually the wake up call you need to start being more energy efficient!
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