Clever tricks to cut your energy bills

Clever tricks to cut your energy bills

UK households waste £2.2 billion on unnecessary heating, according to new figures from Direct Line Home Insurance.

Its research shows that families up and down the country regularly have their heating on for six and a half hours more than they really need to, with one fifth of households cranking up the heating unnecessarily for at least 10 hours a week.

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This means that an average family paying £747 a year for heating could slash their annual bill by £82.52 a year - simply by only turning the heating on when it's really needed.

Overheating our homes is just one of the ways we waste money on energy, though.

Here are five top tips to help you keep your bills down - and do your bit for the environment at the same time.

1. Mind the gap

Draught proofing the doors and windows in your home can save you around £25 per year.

You can pay someone to do it, generally between £100 and £200. Or keep costs down by doing it yourself.

If your home is not already insulated, installing loft and wall insulation can also provide big savings longer term.

2. Go green

Installing green energy solutions such as solar panels can make a huge difference to the amount you pay for gas and electricity.

The problem is that they are not cheap, and in England the government is now only offering energy efficiency grants to households deemed to be in "fuel poverty".

Green energy solutions at the cheaper end of the scale include solar water heating systems, which can be used in conjunction with a conventional boiler.

3. Bin your boiler

Talking of boilers, hanging on to an old, inefficient one can be a false economy when it comes to your energy bills.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that someone living in a detached house could save a massive £320 a year by replacing a G-rated boiler with an A-rated condensing one.

The bad news is that making the switch is likely to cost you between £2,000 and £3,000.

4. Switch off standby

You don't always have to spend money to save money on your electricity bills. Simply remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode can cut your costs by £30 a year.

A standby saver device, which costs about £7, will make it easier by allowing you to turn everything off in one go.

5. Change your bulbs

Another low-cost way to cut the amount you spend on lighting your home is to invest in Light Emitting Diode (LED) energy efficient light bulbs.

Energy Saving Trust figures indicate that the average household would spend about £100 replacing all of their bulbs with LEDs, and would save around £35 a year.

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Most outrageous bill mistakes
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Most outrageous bill mistakes
Carol Sandford, 72, called 118 118 from her mobile phone unaware of the charges involved. Calls to the number cost £1.88 per call and there is also a £2.57 per minute charge from landlines. TalkTalk raises this to £5.68 for the first minute and £3.28 per minute after that. TalkTalk told Carol the charge £81.12 charge was correct but luckily 118 118 were kinder, offering to repay the charge in full. Read the full story here.
One Londoner was more than a little confused when his debit card was declined while he was trying to buy just six bottles of American craft beers. But he quickly realised that instead of the £22.30 he owed, he had been charged £223,000! It's thought he punched in the PIN number before the machine was ready and it added the numbers to the total. Luckily the 28-year-old saw the funny side and laughed the incident off. Read more on the story here.

Early Lewis from Detroit was amazed to find his water bill was almost 100 times as much as he was expecting. The bill claimed that Lewis had used 3,740 gallons of water in just one hour. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the Water and Sewage Department admitted it was a mistake and subsequently charged Lewis the $36 he should have been charged initially. Read more on this story here

George MacIntosh, 73, was charged a staggering £200 for premium-rate gambling texts he didn't intend to sign up for. Unfortunately this wasn't a scam but a legal service from a company called Zamano. It seems the retired vicar had accidentally signed up after responding to an initial text from the company. Read the full story here.
Philip Groves was amazed to receive a £1,411 bill from Vodafone last year for his 10-year-old daughter Trinity's phone. It turns out Trinity had watched 28 hours of instructional loom band videos on YouTube, assuming her phone was using wifi. But the wifi had cut out, leaving her phone using the data allowance at it's highest rate. Vodafone refused to cancel the bill and threatened legal action. Read more here
Daniel Pontin was in for quite a shock after opening a gas bill charging him £31,000 for a year's worth of gas in a one-bedroom home. Pontin claimed his meter was broken when he moved in and was initially charged £35 a month for six months before he stopped receiving bills. When the huge £31,000 estimated bill arrived Npower told Pontin to ignore it while they investigated. Read the full story here
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