How to afford your gas and electricity bills

Being a parent has gotten a lot harder in recent years. The pandemic brought home-schooling into our lives, and now, as the consequences of COVID settle, we are faced with rising energy costs. Petrol prices are soaring, food and clothing are more expensive, and energy prices are continuing to increase. Making the wages stretch each month is beginning to feel a little more difficult. 

While the cost of living feels mostly out of our control, there are ways we can reduce our energy use and save on our utility bills. Here we offer some advice on how to be more energy-efficient.

Get the kids involved

Everyone in the family needs to be involved in the efforts to save money on utility bills. Getting the children involved is also a great way to prepare them for their future responsibilities when they leave home.

There are small behaviours that can build to make a big difference. For instance, set the rule that everyone switches off the lights when they leave a room – and be the best example of this you can. Televisions and monitors, game consoles and other appliances left on standby are also a huge drain on resources, so developing these simple habits could be one of the easiest ways to control energy prices.

Beware the energy vampires

Up to 20% of our energy bills can amount due to appliances sucking up energy even when not in use. This goes beyond the standby issues to equipment that you think is passively sitting, costing you nothing but is still drawing energy. A good example is your toaster. Even when not used to prepare your food, your toaster is costing you money – and there are a host of these suckers around your home. Working out a way of keeping these off until you need them will make a significant difference to your bill.

Go smart

As you go about making these changes and developing habits, you may have some pushback. Children can be forgetful, and on occasion, they want their devices to stay on so that they can charge devices or sleep with the lights on.

One way to counter this is with an investment in smart sockets. Smart sockets can be programmed to switch on and off when required and controlled from a smartphone or speaker. This means you can set your kids’ devices to charge for the length of time required rather than overnight or for hours upon hours at a time. You can also make sure that they can fall asleep with the light on, but that it times to go off afterwards. 

While you might have to spend money to save, it will pay off in the end.

There are other smart devices worthy of consideration. For instance, a smart thermostat can help you efficiently heat the parts of your room that need warmth. You can heat some rooms and not others and different rooms at different temperatures, which is great for regulating the heat in the bedroom compared to the living room.

Turn the thermostat down a degree

While much of these will save electricity, gas prices have seen the biggest increase. Reducing the work of your gas central heating can make a significant difference to your bill over a year. Turning the temperature down a single degree can save you £80 a year. The lower you can set the heat, the more money you will save. Often we set our homes at 21 or 22 degrees when 19 is comfortable, especially if we wear jumpers. 

Turning the thermostat down is made easier by good insulation. Removing unwanted drafts by insulating the loft, mending windows, and blocking holes in the outside can help you in your pursuit of turning down the dial on your thermostat.

Good maintenance 

In general, good maintenance can save you money in the end. A poorly maintained boiler is leaking money each time you switch it on. Consequently, although an annual service is relatively costly, it is not as expensive as the energy you waste. You can also increase the efficiency by bleeding the air out of radiators, which allows the free flow of warm water. Equally, something small like radiator reflectors against the wall behind the panel can redirect the heat into the room rather than seeping out through the walls.

No single magic bullet

When it comes to managing energy bills, there is no single approach that is going to cut it. Yet, accruing lots of small savings can significantly impact your end bill. Investing to save money feels counter-intuitive when times are tight, but the long-term benefits could be worth the outlay. You can also speak directly to your supplier to discuss a better payment plan or switch energy deals altogether using a price comparison tool. In the end, getting the kids involved will increase your success and teach them a valuable life lesson for the future.