How to save energy at home: 7 ways of using less gas and electricity after Ofgem price cap hike

Energy bills have rocketed because of Ofgem’s new energy price cap, with worse likely to come due to the Russia-Ukraine war

The worst cost of living crisis for decades is squeezing families across the UK.

Supermarket food price increases have made healthy eating even harder, while soaring fuel costs have pumped up the price of a tank of petrol.

As if these hikes weren’t enough, Ofgem increased its energy price cap by 54% for millions of households on 1 April as a result of soaring gas prices.

Despite interventions from the government - namely an energy bills loan and a council tax rebate - there have been warnings that more needs to be done to protect the UK’s most vulnerable households from high inflation.

But, given no further state support appears to be on its way, what can you do to slash your energy bills?

NationalWorld has sought out some of the best tips for how to cut your costs.

Gas prices have been driven up because Russia is a key producer of the fossil fuel (image: Adobe)

Energy bills quick wins

Keep an eye on your electricity prepayment meter

You might have been one of the thousands of people who tried to give their meter readings to their energy supplier before 1 April - if so, this hack could be important for you.

Most prepayment meters for electricity and gas are on tariffs governed by the price cap, so households who have them have been fully exposed to the 54% increase and could see their bills soar to more than £2,000 per year.

Before the price cap rise, there had been some suggestion consumers would be able to temporarily get around the rise by adding the maximum top up possible to their electricity meter (it wouldn’t work for gas meters unless you’re with Octopus) before the new cap came in - therefore, delaying when the new rate would apply from.

Prepayment meters are often found in the homes of the UK’s most vulnerable people (image: Adobe)

However, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis had a mixed response when he chased this up with Ofgem and the energy suppliers.

For example, Scottish Power said the new rates would apply from 1 April regardless of whether the meter was topped up beforehand.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has had mixed messages about maxing out your prepayment meter to beat the new price cap (image: PA)

But if you’re with another supplier, it might be worth checking how your meter reading compares to what it was before the price cap change.

Martin Lewis recommended taking a picture of your meter before 1 April and emailing it to yourself to provide a time stamp.

Given a few weeks have passed since the new price cap’s introduction, now might be the time to check whether you’re being overcharged for your usage.

For more in-depth advice on this, visit the Money Saving Expert website.

Turn off your devices

It’s the bit of advice we’re always given but forget to follow.

According to the Energy Saving Trust - an independent organisation that promotes energy efficiency and sustainable energy use - turning devices like TVs and games consoles off completely rather than leaving them on standby could save you £55 a year.

Properly turning off your TV could save you a lot of money off your annual bill (image: Adobe)

This estimate, and all the other estimates from the organisation included in this article, are based on the new energy price cap.

Watch your shower time

Keeping your shower time to four minutes - the equivalent of a long pop song - could also lop money off your annual bill.

By doing this and ditching one bath per week, you could stand to save yourself £35 per person in your household, the Energy Saving Trust says.

If you’re lucky enough to own a gym membership, you could maximise this saving by showering after your workout or swim.

Keep tabs on your appliances

Appliances, especially ‘wet’ ones like dishwashers and washing machines, are notorious for burning through energy.

The Energy Saving Trust reckons you could shave £28 off your annual energy bill by keeping your washes to 30-degrees and reducing the number you do per week by one.

If you have a dishwasher it also recommends only running it once it’s full.

Draught excluders can get rid of those pesky jets of cold air and save you money at the same time (image: Adobe)

Draught proofing

Getting rid of jets of cold air you often feel coming through windows and doors could mean you’re less likely to need your heating on.

And that could save you a lot of money, according to Norton Finance.

It says draught proofing your home using specialist excluders could save you £215 over five years - and can cost only £3 to do.

With this hack, getting it done professionally is likely to be more effective.

However, this would cost the average two-bed flat occupant an estimated £110 (with the Energy Saving Trust saying the average annual saving on energy bills could amount to £55) and the average three-bed semi-detached occupant £240 (with a £95 annual saving).

So, opting for the professional route means you will make a greater saving over the longer-term - but you won’t immediately save money.

Medium-to-long term energy bill savings

These hacks will all require professional work and so you will not make an instant saving on your energy bills.

Instead, you will be likely to see positive results in your energy bills over a longer-term period.

Invest in insulation

Better insulating your home means you will lose less heat in colder months, and will therefore not need to reach for the thermostat as often.

Better insulation means you won’t need to reach for the thermostat as often (image: Adobe)

There are two types of insulation the Energy Saving Trust recommends:

  • Cavity wall insulation

According to the organisation, a third of the heat lost from an uninsulated home passes through the walls.

If you’ve got a cavity in your wall - a standard building practice that’s a feature in most UK homes - you can fill it with insulation that’ll stop heat escaping like this.

While it will set you back around £1,200 if you live in a standard three-bed semi-detached house, you could stand to save £285 per year.

For a bigger four-bed detached house, the cost could be in the region of £2,500 and might see you save £480 per year.

If you live in a flat, you will have to run the project by your fellow flat owners or the building’s landlord, but it is likely to have a better cost-to-annual savings ratio.

Loft insulation will have a long-term benefit on your energy bills (image: PA)
  • Loft insulation

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a quarter of the heat from an uninsulated home is lost out of the roof space.

Getting at least 270mm of insulation into your loft will therefore help to reduce your energy bills.

But don’t expect a dramatic overnight saving.

For a standard three-bed semi-detached house, it’ll cost roughly £465 but will only deliver a £25 annual saving.

If you have a four-bed detached property, the cost could be £1,100 and will only deliver an average saving of £40 per year.

If you live in a flat that’s not on the top floor, or is but hasn’t got a pitched roof with loft space above it, you will have to rely on those living above and below you for insulation.

Solar panels

Being less reliant on fossil fuels means you will be better shielded from the kinds of price shocks we’re currently seeing on global energy markets.

But investing in things like solar panels carries a large up-front cost, meaning it’s a measure many people will be unable to afford.

If you can do it, the Energy Saving Trust says a typical solar panel installation will set you back £6,500.

However, it will save you a significant amount of money - £505 in London, £475 in Manchester and £450 in Stirling, the Energy Saving Trust says.