How often should I change energy supplier?

Unlike many other markets (such as insurance and banking), energy suppliers tend to reward new customers rather than their loyal, existing customer base. New customers often get offered better deals and existing customers get put onto variable tariffs that gradually increase over time. To ensure that you are getting good value for money, we advise that you consider switching energy supplier every 12 to 18 months and if possible, tying yourself into a fixed-term contract with the supplier. Suppliers often provide better value fixed-term contracts because they can benefit from knowing you are less likely to leave at any point, which is not the case with open-ended variable tariffs. We recommend comparing the individual unit rates being offered, the tariff comparison rate, standing charges, and exit fees (which would apply if you decided to leave the contract before the agreed end date). If you are unsure where to start or what to do, please get in touch and we can arrange to help you switch suppliers.

Is it cheaper to keep my heating on all day, or should I turn the heating on and off as I need it?

We regularly come across various myths and contrasting opinions on this question. In terms of purely attempting to save money it is a fact that leaving your heating on all day will cost you more than if you use it only when required. This is because energy will always leak from your home – at a rate determined by how well-insulated and energy efficient it is – so if you heat your home all day, some of this energy will be continuously lost throughout the day.  The Energy Saving Trust (www.energysavingtrust.org.uk) state that it is cheaper and more efficient to only have the heating on when it is required. We therefore advised that you use a timer, to put your heating on only when you need it, and a thermostat, to maintain the set temperature, at the same time in order to maximise potential savings.

Should I leave my hot water on all the time, or is it cheaper to turn it on and off as I need it?

For the same reasons as described above, it is actually cheaper to time the system so that it only comes on when required. However, for customers on Economy 7 tariffs who have electrical immersion heaters it will be cheaper to heat water overnight. Ensuring that water tanks are well insulated will reduce daytime heat loss and therefore make the hot water system more efficient and cost-effective.

Will it be cheaper to use an electric heater in my living room rather than turning the central heating on?

Electrical heating – whether using oil-filled radiators or convection heaters – is typically a lot more expensive that gas central heating systems. It is therefore more energy efficient and cheaper to turn your central heating on and use a timer and thermostat, rather than using individual electric heaters. This has the added bonus of also helping to heat the wider house as opposed to a lone room. Having thermostatic radiator valves can also enable you to alter the temperature in different rooms to further help to reduce heating costs.

If I turn the thermostat up, will it heat my house up faster?

A thermostat regulates the temperature of your house. It does not speed up the heating of your house. Your boiler can only work at a specific speed pumping the hot water around your house and into the radiators. No matter what temperature you set the heating at, your boiler will only work at this constant speed. If you want to boost the speed of heating your home up, better insulation is needed. It will also help keep your home warmer for longer.

If I am away during the winter, should I leave my heating on?

We recommend that you should keep your heating on to some extent to reduce the likelihood of pipes freezing. Frozen pipes can cause costly damage, which may not be covered by your home insurance. We therefore suggest that it is better to have a small heating bill for whilst you are away than coming back to potential flooding of your home.

Is combi boiler or standard boiler cheaper for me to run?

There is no straight answer to this question, as it entirely depends upon how much hot water you use and your lifestyle. As with all appliances, expenses can be minimised by using efficient appliances. The more efficient your boiler, the cheaper it will be to run than a less efficient one. If your household uses a relatively low amount of hot water, then it will be more efficient to have a combi-boiler. However, if you use a large amount of hot water, as combi-boilers are less efficient at heating water, it may work out cheaper to have a standard well-insulated boiler and tank. If you are unsure which would suit you, please get in touch for further advice.

Am I still using electricity if my charger is plugged in but not connected to the device?

In short, yes. Most chargers continue to draw electricity even when they are not connected to the device. You can often see this for example with the light displayed on a laptop charged. It is also worth noting that generally, cheaper unbranded chargers are less efficient and therefore use more electricity than branded chargers

Should I run my appliances, such as a dishwasher and washing machine at night?

On ‘normal’ tariffs there is no cost benefit to using appliances at night (although this may in some cases be more convenient in people’s routines). However, if you are on an Economy 7 tariff, the overnight electricity rate (typically from 00:00 – 07:00) is lower than the peak rate for the rest of the day, so you can potentially save significant amounts of money by shifting electricity consumption to coincide with this value rate. Many appliances have a timer setting. Using these can help you to manage how and when you use them to ensure they run at the most cost-effective time.

What’s the difference between controlling the heating using radiator valves or my thermostat?

Radiator valves control the water flow through your radiator, whereas your thermostat controls your boiler. Your thermostat will control the temperature throughout your home, turning the boiler off once your home hits the pre-set temperature until it drops in temperature. If you require some rooms to be cooler than others, using the radiator valves will allow you to set the temperature within each individual room. Once the temperature in that room is reached, the thermostat will stop the hot water flowing through the radiator. Whilst the boiler will still be on, it will use less energy and therefore save you money.

Is it true that if I paint my radiators black or put reflective panels behind them, that I will save money on my energy bills?

Painting your radiators black will not save you money on your energy bills. Reflective panels do help to reflect heat out into the room, which helps you to ‘feel’ more of the warmth given off because less heat is directly lost through the walls, which can therefore help to save money. However, this works best on uninsulated walls and the best method to significantly reduce your bills and keep your home warm is to insulate your walls. Get in touch with us if you would like more information on insulation. (include hyperlink to insulation pages)

Should I close my doors or leave them open when heating the home?

This one is pretty straight forward. If you want to heat the whole house keeps doors open to enable heat to circulate (but be aware that heat rises). If you want a certain room to be heated, then it is best to keep the door closed.

Is it more efficient to use a tumble dryer or place washing on an airer with the heating on?

Ideally, your washing should be hung outside on a washing line. However, with the British weather, this is not always an option! We would therefore advise you to time your washing so that it can be dried when your heating is normally on. A tumble dryer uses a lot of energy and can be an extra expense that is not needed. As such, we would recommend opening the window of the room where the washing is drying to ensure that condensation leaves the property and does not cause any issues with damp. Modern dehumidifiers are a lot more energy-efficient than older models, and may perhaps be an alternative option for those without access to outside space and unable to adequately ventilate the property.