Energy bills: Ten ways to save money this winter

Hundreds of thousands of Irish consumers can save hundreds of euro with these steps

With the cost of heating and lighting going through the roof over the past 12 months, many – if not most – Irish households will be despairing and wondering how they are going to get by this winter.

It will not be easy for many people, and the bad news is that things are likely to get worse before they get better. But that does not mean many people do not have options, and there are still ways hundreds of thousands of Irish consumers can save hundreds — if not thousands — of euro when it comes to energy usage.

1. We will understand it if people are fed up hearing this, but it is still worth repeating. If you haven’t done it in the last 12 months, switch your energy provider now. It is – by far – the easiest way to save money in the current climate. Using data from the Commission for the Regulation of Utilities (CRU) it is likely that close to three quarters of a million Irish households have never switched their energy provider. Every one of those households is wasting money. How much depends on the house and the usage, but many people will be able to save over €1,000 on energy costs by simply moving. Do not waste your time making calls to providers when or — both of which have the approval of the CRU — can do all the hard work for you.

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2. Check out your attic. If it has never been insulated or was insulated decades ago, you could have the insulation topped up. This may not be an option open to all but grants of up to 80 per cent of the total cost are on the table from the SEAI. Getting a decent job done should see you energy costs over the winter ahead fall by more than €100.

Energy prices have been steadily rising since the beginning of 2021. Graphic: Paul Scott/The Irish Times

3. Using a Home Energy Saving Kit from your local library you can work out how and where most of the energy in your house is used and where the heat is leaking out of your house and then takes steps to plug the leaks.

4. Never heat an empty house. You should turn off the heat half an hour before you are due to leave and do not turn it on until you return. If a room is used infrequently, then use the radiator valve to turn the temperature down or off there.

5. Never light rooms unless you are in them, it is a pointless waste of money. The savings for one hour in one day will be miniscule, but if you get into the habit of turning off lights in every room you are not in, the amounts you save will slowly creep up

6. Keep a close eye on how you are heating your home. By turning the thermostat down by just two degrees you will see your energy bill for the winter fall by as much as 10 per cent.

7. Pay close attention to your white goods and other electrical items. Don’t run your washing machine or dishwasher until they are full and run then on the eco settings or lower temperatures. The simple act of washing your clothes at 30 degrees instead of the default 40 degrees will save you money. On a one-off basis those savings will be negligible, but spread out over a year, they will add up. Similarly don’t leave any electrical goods on standby and spend just one minute less in the shower every morning. By taking all these steps you could reduce your energy consumption by over 10 per cent — which might see you saving in excess of €300 over a year.

8. Try and avoid using your immersion or your tumble drier. If you can use a clothes horse – or better still – a washing line you will save money and only ever turn on the immersion in an emergency and do not forget to turn it off again.

9. Service your boiler. Not only is it essential from a safety perspective, a well maintained and properly functioning boiler will be able to heat your home and water for around 5 per cent less than one that is not properly looked after.

10. Have a look at your hot water tank and make sure it is properly insulated. By making sure the tank is properly lagged, you will be able to knock as much as 25 per cent off the annual cost of heating water.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast