Keeping down energy prices

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash


So, you may have heard a lot about energy prices recently. As the Office of Gas and Electricity Price Markets (Ofgem) raised the cap on energy prices this year, lots of us are worried on how to afford our bills. While students living in halls of residence will often have their energy bills covered in their rent payments, people living in private accommodation may be experiencing some concern at the moment. 

But fear not! KCL’s Money Mentors are here to help you understand energy prices and how they can be managed and provide some useful myth-busting tips and tricks. 

Saving on energy:

Finding cheaper prices is always excellent, but aside from that, there are some things you can be doing right now to ensure that you’re keeping your own prices down! 

  1. Turning your thermostat down 

Turning down the thermostat is a fantastic and simple way to keep energy costs down. According to price-comparison site Uswitch, turning your thermostat down by just 1OC could result in savings of £80 a year!  

From my own personal experience, I know that this can be difficult when sharing a flat, as people often have different preferences for how hot they keep the home. In these situations, having discussions about the benefits of a turning down the thermostat and proposing alternatives such as wearing thicker clothing when cold might prove effective. 

  1. Fitting a ‘water-saving shower head’ 

In terms of saving on water-related costs, one quick and easy way to do this is to reduce the amount of water that you shower with. One way of doing this is by fitting a ‘water-saving’ shower head. These devices can reduce the energy needed. 

And brilliantly for us students – you might be able to get one for free! Follow this link on Save the Student, complete the survey, and you may be eligible to receive free water-saving shower products!  

  1. Close doors to rooms you’re not trying to heat 

According to the Energy Saving Trust, closing doors to the rooms you’re not using is a brilliant method to improve the heating in your home. Closing doors to these rooms allows the convection currents created by radiators to remain in the designated space you want to heat, meaning you’ll need to spend less time heating those areas as less heat is escaping.  

  1. Use an airer instead of a tumble-dryer 

While tumble-dryers are often much more convenient, they use a significant amount of energy and can add to your costs! A cheaper alternative is to purchase an airer (also sometimes known as a drying rack/clothes horse). Airers are best used when you time them so that you put your wet clothes on them during the times you keep the heating on in the household, but try if possible to use an airer outdoors when the weather allows – the National House Building Council says drying your wet clothes on an airer indoors can cause issues with condensation and damp due to the circulation of the moisture in your home, which is particularly a problem if you’re living somewhere older and more poorly-insulated. 

Aside from these useful tips, I thought I’d like to share some myths often shared by students on the subject of energy prices, and see whether or not there’s any merit to them: 

MYTH: Painting the radiators black helps to reduce energy wastage 

ANSWER: This is not true! While it is commonly believed that painting radiators black improves the absorption of heat, the Energy Saving Trust says that the difference compared to keeping them the normal white colour is negligible. 

MYTH: If a socket is switched off, there’s no problem keeping your appliances plugged in 

ANSWER: False! While not a significant amount, studies have shown that leaving the plugs of appliances in sockets, even when switched off, can use up energy. This is known as ‘vampire energy’ and means that you should definitely unplug all of your appliances when you are finished using them. 

Individually, the amounts of energy saved while doing this may not be much, but over time, with the number of appliances you use on a daily basis, the savings can really add up! 

MYTH: It’s cheaper to keep the heating on low all day than to only turn it up when you need to heat up a room 

ANSWER: False! While this one is still debated, the Energy Saving Trust says that keeping your heating on low all day leaks a significant amount more energy than to raise the temperature when you need it. I’ve found that keeping your heater on a timer is an effective way of managing the temperature in your home throughout the day.  

MYTH: Putting clingfilm over your windows is effective in keeping your home heated: 

ANSWER: This is technically true! Although putting clingfilm over your windows may help to insulate your home as long as it’s airtight and completely transparent, you’re better off finding a home that has double glazed windows already.  

The clingfilm works by trapping a small layer of air, which reduces how much heat can escape, but is much more effective as a second layer on windows that only have single glazing, than as a third layer on windows that are already double-glazed. 

MYTH: It’s cheaper to use one main thermostat in the home than to use multiple thermostats on individual radiators: 

ANSWER: FALSE! You can be more in charge of the way your home is heated by having thermostatic radiator valves on your radiators. These valves can be used with the main thermostat to better control the temperature in each room as you desire. One way of doing this is to use the thermostat to heat your main living space (e.g. the living room) and to use valves attached to radiators in other rooms to keep the temperature low in the rooms you use less.  

According to the Energy Saving Trust, managing the temperature in this way would enable you to save approximately £75 a year!

I hope these tips and tricks have gotten you on your way to becoming a super saver with your energy bills in the future. If you still find yourself struggling at any point, please don’t hesitate to contact the Money & Housing Advice Team, who’ll be more than happy to confidentially discuss your situation with you. 

Aside from this, Ofgem have also released a helpful guide on Getting help if you can’t afford your energy bills. 

Other helpful resources on this topic can be found below:  

Money Saving Expert: Energy Saving Tips  

The Uni Guide – Student Survival Guide: Electricity and Gas bills   

This is – 20 Energy Saving Tips to help reduce bills  

UK Power – Gas and Elctricity for students   

Shivam Chotai
King’s Student Money Mentor
Part of Money & Housing Advice

The King’s Student Money Mentors blog shares our students’ personal experiences and thoughts on money-related topics. Any reference, opinions or recommendations on a particular company/brand are only the views of the student(s) who wrote the blog post. King’s College London, the Money & Housing Advice service and the Money Mentor project do not share the views in the blogs nor endorse any of the companies mentioned. Readers should conduct their own research before using any companies mentioned in our blog posts. 

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