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- How to Reduce Energy Bills
- Energy Efficiency and Historic Buildings
How to Reduce Energy Bills
There are two ways to reduce energy bills. The first is to buy cheaper energy and the second is to use less of it.
Finding cheaper energy
Gas and electricity
Supply is regulated by Ofgem and distributed through the National Grid. We buy it from energy suppliers and they buy it from producers. The price we pay depends on many factors but it‘s the same gas and electricity regardless of who supplies it, the only things that’s different is the price and the way the supplier works out the bill.
Prices will be different in different parts of the country and the traditional supplier for an area is unlikely to be the cheapest. So switching supplier will almost always save money. There appear to be more than 40 different suppliers although many are really the same supplier. Each supplier has many different tariffs (some more than 50) depending on when you use most energy and how long you want to fix the price for.
Making comparisons between all different suppliers is very complicated and requires a switching website. You'll need to know how much energy you use so have your bills handy when you look at the comparison sites.
Generally speaking, if you use gas and electricity then it‘s cheaper to get both from the same supplier. It’s also cheaper if you choose to have your bills on line rather than on paper and if you to pay by monthly direct debit rather than quarterly bill. That reduces the cost to the supplier, so they can pass the saving on to you. Once you have made those savings, any further saving depends largely on how the supplier works out the bill.
If you have never switched before, there will always be a potential saving by switching and that could typically run to several hundred pounds.
These are generally used in rural areas where mains gas isn‘t available. Heating oil, LPG, solid fuel and wood are ordered by you, delivered to your door by a merchant and stored on your property. This requires you to remember to order in good time so you don’t run out and to have somewhere suitable to store it.
There are usually several potential suppliers you can order from so the only way to find cheaper fuel is to shop around. Prices tend to be higher in the winter and cheaper in the summer so have enough storage space and money to have the biggest delivery when it's cheapest.
In the case of heating oil, there are may be a local buying club where bulk ordering can reduce the price.
LPG is different because the bulk storage tank is actually owned by the distributer and can't be refilled by a different one. You will have a contract with a distributer but when that expires (normally 2 years) you can go to an alternative who can install their own tank or potentially buy the existing one for you.
Gas and electricity is sold in units of energy (kWh) but others are sold by volume or weight, so they're difficult to compare.
Electricity is the easiest because that's delivered though a meter which records in kWh.
Gas is delivered though a meter which records in cubic feet or cubic metres and is converted to kWh on your bill.
Oil is delivered and sold in litres.
LPG (usually propane) is delivered and sold in litres but a litre of LPG contains more kWh of energy than a litre of oil.
Solid fuel has several types and they all tend to be sold by weight in a bag (25 kg).
Wood pellets or wood chip is also sold by weight and may be bagged (kg) or bulk delivered (tonnes). Logs may be less precise and sold in bags or a trailer load.
The only way to make comparisons is to know how much energy (kWh) is contained in each fuel and that's called the calorific value (cv). However, calorific values vary depending on where the fuel comes from and in the case of solid fuels, the moisture content.
As a guide:
- 1 kWh of electricity = 1.00 kwh of energy
- 1 cubic metre of mains gas = 10.70 kWh
- 1 litre of LPG bulk (propane) = 7.11 kWh
- 1 litre of LPG bottle (butane) = 13.67 kWh
- 1 litre of heating oil (kerosene) = 10.35 kWh
- 1 litre of heating oil (Diesel) = 10.85 kWh
- 1 kg of solid fuel (house coal) = 8.33 kWh
- 1 kg of smokeless fuel (anthracite) = 9.66 kWh
- 1 kg of other manufactured solid fuels = 9.00 kWh (approx.)
- 1 kg of wood (pellets) = 4.70 kWh
- 1 kg of wood (chips) = 3.50 kWh
- 1 kg of wood (logs- dry) = 5.25 kWh
- 1 kg of wood (logs- green) = 2.60 kWh