With the weather getting noticeably colder, you may find yourself turning the heating on more often. Electricity and gas bills normally make up a large portion of household spending, especially in winter, so it’s a good idea to see if you can reduce these costs. Check out the tips from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to find out how:
Switch energy provider - if you are looking to save money on your energy bills, consider switching to a new provider. Before you switch make sure to compare like with like so remember to look at both the unit rate and the standing charge when comparing plans. Remember also that the discounts offered by the various providers are discounts off their own standard rates and these rates vary by provider.
Reduce the temperature of your thermostat – lower your heating to 20°C. Reducing your heating by 1°C can knock 10% off your heating bill.
Only heat as much water as you need - install a timer control switch for your hot water tank if you don’t already have one.
Unplug electrical appliances you are not using - leaving electrical appliances on standby, or leaving phone chargers plugged in when you’re not using them costs money - so unplug them! Unplugging all non-essential electrical appliances could reduce the average household electricity bill by between €50 and €100 a year.
Install a lagging jacket – this can save you up to €2.50 a week in water-heating costs and can pay for itself within three months.
Be more energy efficient – if you are buying a new appliance ask what energy rating it is. For example, ‘A’ rated appliances are more cost efficient to run than ’B’ or ’C’ rated appliances. The higher the rating, the more efficient the appliance will be, costing you less to run.
Keep in mind that usually a half-full dishwasher, washing machine or dryer uses the same amount of energy as a full one. Wait until your dishwasher or washing machine is full before turning it on, or if your appliance has a half-load setting on it use this to save money.
Cut draughts – a lot of heat can be lost through your windows, particularly if they are single-glazed. Use draught-proofing strips around the frame or consider investing in windows that are double or triple glazed which will save you more in energy costs in the long-run. Use heavy curtains, preferably lined ones, to keep in warm air and make sure that curtains don't hang over radiators as they will block the heat. Block up any leaks and drafts, particularly around windows, doors and the roof but make sure that you’re not blocking vents, as they allow fresh air into the room, and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide building up.
Find out if you can avail of a grant - the Better Energy Homes Scheme provides grants to homeowners to improve energy efficiency in their homes. The scheme is run by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Grants are available for a variety of energy efficiency improvements such as roof insulation, wall insulation, installation of a high efficiency (> 90%) gas or oil fired boiler, heating control upgrades and solar panels. Insulating your home will cut the cost of your heating bills. For instance insulating your attic can cut your heating bills by up to 20%.
You can find more money saving tips on regular household costs on the CCPC’s consumer website consumerhelp.ie.
Clodagh Coffey is Head of Consumer and Digital Communications with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC). The CCPC is responsible for enforcing competition and consumer protection laws across the economy. To help consumers make informed decisions it also gives independent, unbiased information about consumer rights and personal finance products and service through its consumer helpline 1890 432 432 and consumer website.