If you want to know how to be more energy efficient, the first place to start is making sure your home and all of your electrical appliances work as efficiently as possible. It isn’t energy efficient to throw out all your old products and replace them with new, energy-saving items. Instead, wait until they wear out and then replace them.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Use less electricity

The first rule of saving electricity is, don’t leave appliances on standby. Of course you need to leave your fridge and freezer on full time, and maybe your alarm system. But for practically everything else electrical: when you’re not using them, switch them off at the wall.

Rechargeable batteries can also be a good choice. Just make sure you get top-quality ones that will last and hold their charge. You could also invest in a ‘smart charger’ that prevents your batteries from overcharging.

Switch to energy-saving light bulbs

Energy-efficient bulbs use up to 80% less electricity than traditional light bulbs and can keep going for ten times as long.

Just one energy-saving bulb could save you approximately £2.50 per year – and this could rise to as much as £6 for brighter bulbs or any you leave on for several hours a day. So if you replace every bulb in your home (when they stop working) with energy-saving bulbs, you could reduce your annual electricity bill by as much as £37 and cut 135kg of CO2 off your carbon footprint. That’s the equivalent of taking a train from London to Glasgow and back, or using nearly 43 litres of petrol.

Cut down the cost of heating your home

Hot water and heating make up around four-fifths of most fuel bills in the UK, so increasing the energy efficiency of your heating system can make a big difference.

If you’ve had your boiler for more than 15 years, it’s probably time to consider upgrading to a newer, more eco-friendly model. You could reduce your heating bills by up to a quarter by replacing a creaky old G-rated boiler with a new A-rated condensing boiler, as long as you use it wisely. Make sure your thermostat and boiler are communicating properly, fit individual thermostats on radiators and if necessary, get a control system that lets you switch off the heating remotely.

Insulate your roof and walls, install double glazing, stop draughts and take a bit more care about keeping doors and windows shut. You could also cut up to 10% off your heating bills if you lower your thermostat by 1°C and put on an extra jumper or fleece instead. There’s no need to have the thermostat on a hot water tank any higher than 60°C/140°F.

The energy company obligation scheme

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme was introduced by the government in 2013. It’s designed to encourage energy suppliers to help customers make it cheaper to heat their homes.

Energy suppliers offer grants to customers on low incomes, to help them pay for energy-saving home improvements. This should then save them money on gas and electricity bills.

ECO works in tandem with the government’s Green Deal scheme to help people borrow money or apply for grants to pay for improvements – like insulation, boiler repairs or solar panels.

The government believes around 230,000 homes would qualify for ECO funding.

To find out whether you qualify, get in touch with the Energy Saving Advice Service. You can call them on 0300 123 1234 (Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm, or Saturday 10am – 2pm).

How do I get independent advice about energy?

Government schemes can help make your home more energy efficient for free, which really helps cut energy bills. It’s good news for the environment too.

The easiest way to see if you can get some help to reduce energy bills, is by checking the gov.uk energy grants calculator here.

Help with fuel poverty and saving energy

We’ve partnered with the energy saving advice experts at Centre for Sustainable Energy to give you free, impartial advice on how to save energy and keep your home warm in winter.

Just have your account number ready when you call. If you’re of pensionable age, have a disability, hearing or visual impairment, or suffer from long-term ill health, there may be special help available so don’t forget to mention this.

You can call from Monday to Friday, 9am – 6pm on 0800 038 5730, or email lumo@cse.org.uk.

Citizens Advice Bureau for consumer advice

When you want impartial advice on things like switching energy suppliers or what to do if your power goes out, talk to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

This service is completely free and totally independent. You can call them Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm on 03454 04 05 06. Visit their website www.citizensadvice.org.uk/energy, or write to them at the address below:

Citizens Advice Consumer Service
Post Point 24 Town Hall
Walliscote Grove Road
North Somerset
BS23 1UJ