Sometimes saving money on your utilities bills can be counterintuitive.
For example, only switching your heating on when you need it may not save you money.
In fact, it may cost you more as your boiler uses extra fuel to re-establish a comfortable temperature around the house.
There are a lot of tips on saving energy out there - and the advice isn't always good.
And with winter due to set in later this week it's not an issue you can sidestep anymore - unless you're a polar bear or a walrus.
Thankfully Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis knows a thing or two about saving money on your energy bills and it doesn't have to mean switching providers.
The secret is in using a timer that measures the indoor temperature.
Martin said: "Using a timer's best, because your thermostat is designed to turn your heating on and off to keep your home at the temperature you set it."
This is the view of both the Energy Saving Trust and British Gas too, so in general it's best to stick with that.
However... for people living in damp conditions, some heating engineers argue that keeping all the radiators on full but with the boiler down can reduce condensation.
Whereas turning it on and off can make it worse.
Warmer temperatures can stop condensation building up within the walls, which encourages mould and can make properties even colder.
Other energy saving myths busted
TRUE OR FALSE: The cheapest way to pay energy bills is by direct debit?
True, but specifically it needs to be monthly direct debit. Then suppliers offer discounts of around 7%.
Yet, while you pay less in total, as suppliers estimate your usage, if they overestimate you could be asked for more cash – leaving you in credit – or worse, leaving you underpaying, and in debt with them.
Ensure you always give regular meter readings to get accurate bills.
Also, if you think the estimate is wrong, you have a right to challenge.
TRUE OR FALSE: Renters can’t switch energy provider without their landlords’ permission?
False. You have a right to switch energy provider in your home even if you only pay the rent.
There are two exceptions to this:
- If you don’t pay for energy yourself, it’s all included in your rent, and
- If you’re looking to switch meter, eg. from prepayment to a credit meter, as that’s a physical change to the property that needs permission.
So feel free to do a comparison. Just enter your details into my cheapenergyclub.com or any other ofgem.co.uk approved comparison site and it’ll tell you the best deal for you.
Just make sure you select ‘all tariffs’ as some comparison sites now default to only show you the ones that will pay them (my cheap energy club doesn’t do this).
If the landlord says it’s written into your contract that you can’t switch, challenge it. Preventing a tenant from changing energy suppliers may be viewed as an unfair term in a tenancy agreement.
Talk to citizensadvice.org.uk to see if it can help.TRUE OR FALSE: If you are in credit when you switch energy provider they must give you the money back?
True (now anyway). If you pay by direct debit and when you leave an energy firm you’re in credit, then since 2014 you should automatically get this back. But track it and if the supplier doesn’t, call it and ask for the cash.
If you switched before 2014 and think you might have been in credit then call to check as they operated a ‘don’t ask don’t get policy’ and you can still ask.
Like Aston who emailed me: “Eight minutes work calling my old energy suppliers, got £140 refunded after leaving in credit. Why don’t more people do this?”
TRUE OR FALSE: When you change energy supplier someone will need to visit your home?
False. Nobody usually visits your home.
Your pipes don’t change and your gas and electricity won’t get cut off.
You don’t even need to contact your old energy supplier to tell it you’re switching.
The only thing that changes is the price and service. It’s so easy to switch. It isn’t a big deal.
TRUE OR FALSE: I must get boiler cover with my energy provider?
False. Many energy firms use our fear of losing heating to charge hefty insurance costs. They also want us to think there’s some link between our energy provider and our boiler cover.
There isn’t – you’re not locked in, so if you do need it, go elsewhere, like Amanda who emailed: “I swapped my boiler cover company and saved £213 a year whilst also increasing cover – and still with an annual service included. Thanks.”
You can choose between boiler-only or central heating cover and to find the cheapest cover use a comparison site such as uswitch.com , energyhelpline.com and moneysupermarket.com . If it’s right for you, get cover ASAP, before the true cold weather kicks in, as almost all new policies have a no-claims period within the first 14-30 days.