It has been another challenging year for everyone due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and with household bills now rising for more than 14 million homes across Scotland and the rest of the UK as a result of the energy price hike, financial pressures are set to be exacerbated even further over the coming months.
The cold weather is now settling in across most of the country and with advice from both the Scottish and UK Government to work from home where possible, energy usage is bound to go up, but many will be reluctant to switch it on for fear of unmanageable fuel bills in the New Year.
But all is not lost. as the Christmas break offers the perfect opportunity to look at some simple ways you can save money before seeing in The Bells.
And to get your started, the experts at Hitachi Personal Finance have shared their top 10 tips on how to save money on household bills including reducing water usage, understanding the impact your thermostat has on your bills and applying for financial support.
1. Only boil the water you need
As a nation, we consume 165 million cups of tea each day, yet two thirds of us boil far more water than we need. Collectively, UK tea drinkers could save nearly £1 million a day in electricity usage by only boiling what’s needed. That’s not even including coffee drinkers, or anyone else boiling water for cooking.
2. Don’t over shop
For most households, a fridge is the single biggest power consumer, running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To keep costs as low as possible, pack your fridge about two thirds full without overcrowding. This allows the cold air to circulate and means less than a third of it can escape when you open the door.
3. Lower the thermostat
While it may seem like a small change, adjusting your thermostat to just one degree lower can have a huge impact on your heating bill, reducing it by up to 10 per cent.
4. Bleed your radiators
If a radiator is colder at the top than at the bottom this usually means it needs bleeding. This process releases the trapped air that stops radiators heating up properly, impacting the efficiency of your heating system.
5. Take a shower
On average taking a shower instead of a bath saves around 40 per cent of water, and therefore cuts the cost of heating that water. Of course, this is dependent on the type of shower you have and how long you shower for.
6. Consider upgrading your thermostat
Updating your thermostat to a smart thermostat allows you to create automatic and programmable temperature settings based on daily schedules, weather conditions, and heating and cooling needs.
While the initial cost of this tech may seem high, keep in mind that savings through a smart thermostat could end up paying for itself in the long run.
7. Check your windows
Simply closing and opening your curtains or blinds will help to reduce the energy use of your home.
Closing your blinds or curtains can add insulation to your windows resulting in less heat loss, while on sunny winter days, opening your windows will allow sunlight to shine through and help to heat inside spaces.
8. Switch your bulbs
Replace your bulbs as and when you can with energy efficient LEDs – on average it could save about £40 a year on bills and if everyone changed their remaining bulbs to LEDs, the UK could save 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year and £1.1billion on our collective energy bills.
9. Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount deducts £140 from winter energy bills, which benefits elderly people and those on a low income or certain benefits.
10. Claim tax relief
If you are working from home, tax can be claimed back on up to £6 a week to help cover the additional costs, such as higher energy bills. To claim tax back on working from home costs you will need to complete a P87 form online.
You won’t have to show receipts or prove this is how much you spent, however, if you have been reimbursed by your employer, you can’t claim, as they have already included this.
You usually get the money back by paying less tax, rather than receiving a refund and your tax code may be adjusted to show this change.
Keep up to date with the latest Record Money news
There are a number of ways you can stay up to date with the latest money-saving and benefits news from the Daily Record.
You can join the conversation on our Money Saving Scotland Facebook group for money-saving tips, benefits news, consumer help and advice plus the latest shopping deals.
Sign up to our Record Money newsletter to get our best stories sent straight to your inbox every Tuesday and Friday. You can sign up either by entering your email address in the sign up box further up this page or by clicking here.
Vincent Reboul, Managing Director of Hitachi Capital Consumer Finance, said: “The effects of the pandemic, compounded by the fact many people are still working from home have meant there are widespread concerns around budgeting for heating costs this winter. However, small changes around the home could save you hundreds of pounds on your bills.”
For more insight into how to get your home ready this winter, visit the Hitachi Personal Finance website here.
Get the latest money-saving and benefits news sent straight to your inbox. Sign up to our weekly Money newsletter here.