Energy Bills

This year and next will not be normal years for energy bills or tariffs. We will do our best to keep this document up to date with the latest advice.

You can find out more about the Energy Price Guarantee on   Money Saving Expert.

National Grid

It is becoming increasingly likely that the National Grid (which controls Britain’s energy supply) will pay households to not use power during busy periods. This is to help conserve the UK energy supply as we go into the winter months. You can sign up via your energy supplier when this   ‘demand flexibility service’  begins in November. If your energy supplier does not sign up to the service you will not be able to participate. 

There has also been talk of   planned power cuts  to conserve Britain’s energy supply if it were to get dangerously low, described as a ‘worst-case scenario’ by the Energy Saving Trust. If these outages were to go ahead, National Grid would inform households through a variety of means, including social media and press conferences, and would do this in advance of the outage. Here’s some suggestions for what you can do to prepare for a power cut from the   Met Office.

Support with bills 

If you struggle to pay your energy bills, there are lots of places you can go to for advice and help. This article from   Martin Lewis   gives some good advice on where you can go to get support, including on hardship grants you can get from energy providers.

Paying for energy through monthly direct debit can cut your energy bill quite significantly, however, as bills estimate your usage, it’s possible that you will be paying for more than you actually use. If you pay for your energy via direct debit, you  can   check that you are paying the right amount   based on the October Price Guarantee. 

You will not be alone in struggling to pay your bills, many students and other households across the UK will be making difficult decisions this year. 

If you are a student who is struggling with money, you can always make an appointment with the   Money Team   at Student Services. If you are a member of staff or from the wider community, you may find   Citizens Advice   helpful, or speaking to your bank directly. 

Scottish Government 

The Scottish Government has put together a website for Cost of Living, and there is a section on   energy bills   which may be useful. 

Home Energy Scotland   (part of the Scottish Government’s ‘Net Zero Scotland’ commitment) offers free and impartial advice to help people in Scotland reduce home energy bills and lower their environmental impact. They may be able to provide funds so you can install home improvements (like insulation), which can reduce your energy bills. They’ve also written a short article on   how renters can save on their energy bills.

If you receive certain benefits and are struggling to heat your home, you may be eligible for some financial help to make improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, through   Warmer Homes Scotland.

Find out more on   support with your energy bills

Saving energy in your home

Many of us will be trying to save energy, hoping to live more sustainably, save money, or both. There’s lots of information out there to help you save energy, whatever your reasons. 

  • Layer up your clothing – base layers, vests, thin t-shirts, jumpers
  • Reduce your shower time if you can, even just by a minute – it all adds up 
  • Wash your clothes at 30 degrees for less time if you can 
  • Only wash your clothes when they need a good wash, and do a full load 
  • Turn appliances off at the socket 
  • Fill up your dishwasher – no half loads
  • Use an airer rather than a tumble dryer 
  • Boil the kettle and fill a flask and make hot drinks from that rather than boiling the kettle each time 
  • Reduce the temperature on your boiler 
  • Ensure your landlord organises a boiler service regularly (once per year)

For more advice, here are some guides on   heating yourself  rather than your home and on   energy saving  more broadly.

The following table is taken from Martin Lewis’s website, and details how much on average household appliances will cost per hour (though it depends on your model).

Appliance 

kWh 

Cost per hour

Tumble dryer (3,000 watts)

3

£1.02

Oven (2,000W)

2

68p

Kettle (1,800W)

1.8

61p

Electric hob (1,700W)

1.7

58p

Vacuum cleaner (1,400W)

1.4

48p

Microwave (1,200W)

1.2

41p

Toaster (1,200W)

1.2

41p

Dishwasher (1,200W)

1.2

41p

Iron (1,100W)

1.1

37p

Air fryer (1,000W)

1

34p

Washer (700W)

0.7

24p

Slow cooker (225W)

0.225

8p

PlayStation 5 (201W)

0.201

7p

Sky Q box (45W)

0.045

1.5p

TV (30W)

0.03 

1.02p

Fridge (28W)

0.028

0.95p

BT Hub (12W)

0.012

0.41p

Light bulb (10W)

0.01

0.34p

Sky Q box (standby) (9W)

0.009

0.31p

Microwave (standby) (7W)

0.007

0.24p

Phone charger (5W)

0.005

0.17p

PlayStation 5 (standby) (0.36W)

0.00036

0.01p

Guide to finding energy tariffs 

Taking the time to find a decent energy tariff is one of the best ways to save money on energy. There are many providers out there and different deals, so it can be hard to work out what’s best for you. 

Please note though, that at the moment now is not necessarily the best time to switch energy suppliers, as no tariffs will be significantly lower than the price cap. Here’s some recent advice from   MSE.

When things settle, there are various sites you can use to check for the best tariffs for you:

Other ways to save money 

If you can’t make savings on your energy bills, there may be other ways to save money across your other expenses.

TV Licence

Many people get a   TV licence  when they don’t really need one. If you don’t watch live TV, you don’t record TV, and you don’t watch BBC iPlayer, chances are, you don’t need a TV licence, which will save you £159 a year. 

If you only watch shows on catch up (except BBC iPlayer), you may be able to get away with not forking out for a TV licence. 

For students, there are further workarounds to avoid having to pay for a TV licence, provided your parents/guardians have a TV licence. The rule is that you can avoid paying for a licence as long as your parents have a TV licence, and you are watching telly on your phone, tablet, or laptop but it is not on charge at the time. If you’re watching it on a desktop, console, or TV, you will need a licence. 

Please note that if you do not pay for a TV licence but you do watch live TV or BBC iPlayer, you could be fined £1,000.

Broadband

If you’re paying a lot for your   broadband,  you might be able to find a better deal elsewhere, or you can ask your provider for a better deal. Don’t be afraid to haggle, they might knock some money off your tariff, especially if you can tell them about better deals from other providers!  Please be aware of your contract and any exit clauses.

If you are struggling to pay for your bill, speak to your provider, some may have schemes to help you pay your bill. 

If you are on certain benefits, you may be eligible for a   social tariff.

Not all deals are available everywhere, so if you put your postcode into   this tool  from MoneySavingExpert, you will find deals in your locality. 

Phone contract

Another way we can sometimes be overspending is in our phone deals. If you need a new sim, phone, or contract, here’s a   comparison guide  of the current options out there.  

Home insurance

If you are renting your property, it is usually the landlord’s responsibility to cover buildings insurance, but check! Contents insurance however protects against any damage or loss to your belongings, and might be something you consider, even if your landlord already covers the buildings insurance. 

Find out more about   home insurance

Car insurance 

For those of you who own a car, you will need to insure it. Find out more on tips and tricks to find   cheaper car insurance

Subscriptions

If you have subscriptions to different streaming sites, but you don’t use them all of the time, cancel any you aren’t using. For example, if you have Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Britbox subscriptions, but for the last month you’ve only been watching Britbox, you might cancel Netflix and Amazon Prime and save yourself a bit of money. You can then resubscribe at any time, and cancel the subscription to the site you aren’t really using.

You may be able to save yourself a few pounds here and there by being a bit savvy with sharing accounts with your friends and family. For example, if you bought an individual Netflix ‘Basic’ plan, you’d be paying £6.99 a month, whereas if you bought the ‘Premium’ package at £15.99 (which covers 4 devices at a time) and shared it with 3 others (each paying you back equally), you’d each only be paying £4 a month. 

See the travel and food and drink sections for saving money here too.