Important: If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills, you should always contact your supplier to access the help available to customers and not ignore the problem.
With every household in England, Wales and Scotland being given a one-off £400 discount on their fuel bills to help with the cost of living crisis, it just goes to show that the government is as worried about the rising bills as the rest of us are. But will it be enough? It’s likely you’ll have to make some changes to your home and lifestyle in order to cover the bills that will be dropping through our letterboxes before the end of the year.
Worrying about your bills can massively affect your life, making you feel stressed and giving you sleepless nights. In fact, your personal finances and mental health are linked in more ways than one, impacting your work, relationships and physical health. So it’s crucial to stay on top of your bills and put a plan in place now, which will help ease those future worries.
Saving for it now
You know it’s coming (the price rises AND the winter), so why not prepare for it now? Every year we all end up spending more on heating in the winter than we do during the summer, and I bet you’ve not even had your heating on at all for the last month or more.
So, if your energy bills are lower during the warmer weather, put aside the extra money you would be paying if it were winter. You might be paying around 50% less if you’ve turned your heating off for the summer, so tell yourself that you’re still paying the same bill as you did in January, and put the extra portion of money in a savings account (or even a piggy bank).
That way, you’ll have a pot of cash ready and available when the cold weather comes, allowing you to turn on the heating without worrying about where the money will come from – it’s already there, so you can be confident that you’ll be able to pay the bill.
If you receive a Winter Fuel Payment make sure that you put it aside for your energy bill. Plus, households on means-tested benefits should get an additional payment from the government in two lump sums – one in July, one in the autumn – so you might want to save that money this summer so that it doesn’t accidentally get swallowed up by your everyday expenses and will still be there when you need to cover your winter bills.
Direct debit payments
Some people already do this ‘saving for the winter during the summer’ via their direct debits to the energy company. The monthly payments stay the same, even when you’re using less energy in the summer. That way, you end up being in credit with the energy company before the winter comes.
If this is your situation, keeping the direct debit at the same level probably won’t be enough to cover the rise in prices this coming winter. So, why not start paying more per month right now? That way, you’re spreading the costs over these summer months before the prices rise even higher, so you’ll have more in the credit pot when you need it at the end of the year.
Plus, you’ll get used to spending more on energy now so it won’t be such a big shock when the prices go up again. That’s not much consolation, but it will allow you to adjust your household budget now and work out what other expenses you could cut back on so that you can start saving and cover the bills that are coming.
Updating your heating system
According to the Energy Saving Trust, there are big savings to be made when you’ve got a more efficient heating system. Thermostatic values, A-rated boilers and well-insulated hot water cylinders all help to cut cost. So, if you’ve currently got the money available to update or refresh your heating system, you’ll save money on your energy bills in the long run.
Here are some of the stats:
- Save around £35 per year by topping up the insulation on your hot water cylinder to 80mm.
- Replace old radiators with new ones that have the correct British Thermal Units heat output rating for the size of your room. Use a BTU heating calculator to find the ideal radiators for the space.
- Install the correct thermostats and heating controls for your home to make the system more efficient so you’re only using the heating when you actually need it.
- Keep the system clean by using a chemical inhibitor to prevent the build-up of sludge and scale that can make it more costly to run.
- Save up to £580 per year in a detached house by upgrading a G-rated boiler to an A-rated condensing boiler.
It means investing in your heating system now in order to be able to make those savings going forward but, if you can spare the money to cover the cost of a new boiler before the energy prices rise even higher, you won’t experience such a massive increase in your bills. Check out this guide on how much a new boiler costs in 2022 to calculate whether the investment will be worth it for you.
Insulating your home
Further to updating the heating system, you’ll want to make sure that none of that precious warmth escapes by upgrading your insulation. There are many options in this area, including wall, loft, floor insulation, draught-proofing and leak-free windows and doors.
Again, it’s an investment to insulate your home but, if you’ve got the money to do it now, you’ll feel the benefit of a warmer home in the winter, and you’ll be able to turn down the thermostat, saving you money every day going forward.
The key thing to do before updating your heating system or insulation is to work out whether you would be better off investing the money into a new, efficient system that will help to cut your bills, or whether it would be best to save the money so that you can pay your bills later in the year. I certainly wouldn’t recommend completely clearing out your savings pot in order to update the system, it would be much better to keep an emergency fund saved to cover your costs if needed.
There are some simple things you can do to get ready for the winter, such as buying thick heavy curtains and thermal blinds to block out draughts at the windows. Or you could gather together some cosy blankets and invest in higher-tog duvets – or even big woolly jumpers. These will probably be cheaper to buy at this time of year in the summer sales than they will be if you bought them in the winter.
I hope these ideas will help you feel more in control of your heating bills this year. I’ve previously shared some tips that I personally do at home to reduce my energy costs while staying warm in the winter so be sure to check out that blog post too. Let me know your own heating hacks in the comments below, I’d love to learn how you manage to cut the cost of your bills.
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This article is sponsored collaboration. The pink links in the content indicate a sponsored link or information source. The blog post reflects my own experience and the sponsor hasn’t had any control over my content 🙂