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Reducing Fuel Bills FAQ

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 5 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Fuel Bills Savings Energy Efficiency

We’d all like to cut our fuel bills, but knowing where to start can be confusing. Are energy efficient appliances really worthwhile, how much can insulation save us and what can you do to save money that doesn't cost a fortune in the first place? The answers to these and other frequently asked questions might just tell you all you need to get started.

If I Change Some of My Old Appliances for Energy Efficient Ones, Will the Reduction in My Bills be Worth It?

That rather depends on the sort of appliances you have now, how you use them and what you pick to replace them.

Many people have come to the conclusion that, from the cost-saving angle alone, it probably isn’t worth throwing away perfectly good appliances and replacing them. However, upgrading to an energy efficient version when the original ones have died and you have to get a new appliance anyway obviously makes sense.

There are some exceptions to this rule – notably low energy light bulbs and condensing boilers; each bulb could save you £3 or more a year and over its lifetime that adds up to a lot of money, while fitting a condensing boiler could save you around £270 a year – and cut your carbon footprint by more than one-and-a-half tonnes of CO2!

How Much Could I Really Save With Good Insulation?

Bringing your loft insulation up to the recommended 270mm standard could save you around £150 a year, while having cavity wall insulation installed – assuming you don’t have it already – would add a further £120 or so to the annual savings total.

Simply adding good insulation to your hot water system – an 80mm thick jacket for the tank and some suitable lagging for the pipes – should save another £30 or £40.

With around half of all the heat that is lost from an average home disappearing out of the walls and the roof, it’s hardly surprising that having good insulation can really help you make a big cut in your fuel bills.

I’ve Heard People Talking About “Eco-Driving” to Cut Fuel Costs – What is it and How Does it Work?

The basic idea is to try to adjust your driving technique to make the most efficient use of your fuel – and, of course, reducing your fuel consumption means smaller bills. It’s all about anticipating road conditions and trying to drive smoothly, avoiding heavy braking or rapid acceleration and making sure that your car is properly serviced and in good condition.

It can be a surprisingly effective way to cut your motoring costs; Energy Saving Trust figures suggest a good “eco-driver” can cut fuel consumption by 10 per cent – which equates to around £120 for the average UK motorist and a reduction of 280kg in CO2 emissions.

Is Fitting a Few Low Energy Lights Going to Make Much of a Difference to My Electricity Bill?

That really depends on how many you fit and how often you use them. On average each bulb saves about £3 a year – but if you have the lights on for more than a few hours a day, or you are using them to replace high wattage incandescent bulbs, then this can rise to an annual saving two or three times greater. The other thing to remember is that their lifespan is far longer than conventional bulbs, so for a relatively small initial outlay, they continue to deliver these savings over many years.

Are A++ Fridges and A-Class Washing Machines Really as Good as They’re Supposed to be?

When it comes to reducing fuel bills, using energy efficiently really is the key and many of today’s appliances really do offer remarkable levels of efficiency. Fridges and freezers rated A+ or A++ could provide annual savings of up to £30, while the new models of A-class washing machines and dishwashers could knock a further £10 or £20 off your yearly electric bill.

Admittedly, it won’t exactly make you rich, but as the famous slogan goes, “every little helps!”

So Many of the Things You’re Supposed to do Seem so Expensive. Aren’t There Any Cheaper Ways I Can Start to Save Some Money?

Any of the well-known simple energy saving tips – such as avoiding “standby”, only boiling as much water in your kettle as you actually need, switching lights and appliances off when you’re not using them and turning down the thermostat a degree or two – will help.

Another useful way to get started is to do an “energy watch” – a careful look to see how you use energy at the moment and hopefully to begin to spot where you waste it. Keep an energy diary for a couple of weeks, writing down every time you switch something on or off, adjust the heating and so on; it’s time consuming, but free – and by the time you’ve done it, you should have a pretty clear idea of your household energy use. More importantly, you’ll be in a much better position to know where you can start cutting those bills and it won’t have cost you a penny!

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