The weather may still be clinging to its confused late summer-early autumn persona, but be warned, winter is on its way, which means energy bill rises for all. This week npower announced a 10.4% price rise that will come into effect just in time for Christmas, following on from the announcements from Scottish and Southern and British Gas that will bring average prices up to almost £1,500 a year.
My own power bills are out of control and running at about £190 a month, so I’m determined to cut them down to size. I’ve been trawling the web looking ways to reduce them and have become enmeshed in the minutiae of ‘power’ politics. There are people out there saying we should only use the oven on special occasions, unplug our TV screens and computers at night and buy special spy-in-the-meter gadgets to catch our children frittering away energy on hair straighteners and DSs. There are huge long discussion threads on the merits of baths versus showers. For years I’d swallowed the theory that showers were always more economical than baths – but apparently the electricity needed to power a shower can wipe out any economies of time and water usage….
Similarly I always thought tumble dryers were up there with Satan and sailing when it came to being enemies of the thrifty – but apparently not. A short sharp blast through a tumble dryer is far more energy efficient than draping your laundry over your radiators apparently, especially if you have a condenser tumble drier because you’re heating the house at the same time, rather than providing a lovely cosy sauna for the pigeons outside. That cheered me up no end. Nothing beats the smug satisfaction of watching sheets dry in the sunshine – preferably over a bed of lavender (a girl can dream) – and I’ve got fond memories of my mum hanging clothes over a wooden clothes rack that she winched up above the Rayburn, but rotating your soggy smalls over the radiator is just depressing. It’s like being in a 1960s kitchen sink drama without a young Albert Finney to keep you warm. So I was quietly relieved to read that drying your washing inside does nothing but force your boiler to work overtime as it struggles to heat your home.
So try as you might there are only three ways to shave serious money of your fuel bills – change your bulbs to low energy – and keep them turned off when you’re not in the room – turn down your thermostat on the heating and washing machine, and switch to a cheaper supplier.
We know it makes sense, but it still takes work. So if you’re panicking about bills, but dithering about what to do, take it step by step. Dig out your last three power bills, pour yourself a cuppa (half fill the kettle, mind) and let Martin Lewis of moneysavingsupermarket.com take you by the hand. You haven’t got long because if you switch now you can lock yourself into a cheap tariff before the rest of the energy companies put up their prices. It might take you all evening, but if it shaves several hundred pounds a year off your bill, it’s a small price to pay.
Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn