In 2015 Bristol was the first UK city to be crowned Europe’s Green Capital, further cementing its reputation as the most energy and waste-efficient major city in the country.
The city continues to accelerate its green campaigns to become more self-sufficient, but a long road lies ahead on the way to becoming 100% reliant on renewable energy.
While it’s true that residents have been saving about £150 on heating bills since 2005, it is still every household’s responsibility to play their role in this undertaking. After all, 40 percent of Bristol’s CO2 emissions come from the domestic sector.
As the colder days and nights move closer, with it comes the increased use of electricity and gas to heat up our homes.
Before temperatures continue to drop, you need to take steps to make sure your energy bills—and your carbon footprint—do not skyrocket:
1) Double check your tariff
This may be too simplistic, but go to your provider and check if you are on the cheapest tariff. Payment done via direct debit or online account management, for example, could help lower your energy bills.
2) Switch energy suppliers
Energy Helpline estimates your annual energy savings would amount to £616 if you switch energy suppliers. There are plenty of online comparison sites that you can consult to compare tariffs from different suppliers.
If the jargon confuses you, you can refer to this breakdown of terms below:
- Standard – This is your supplier’s default tariff, with prices that go up and down depending on the market. Also known as the ‘evergreen’ tariff, this is your option if you want to be free of a contract.
- Fixed – Tariffs are limited for the duration of the contract. This is a good way to protect yourself from price increases.
- Dual fuel – You will get gas and energy from the same supplier, giving you the convenience of dealing with just one company. They also offer discounts.
- Online energy tariffs – Manage your accounts online by sending them your meter readings. You will then receive your bills as email attachments. This is the cheapest tariff.
- Pre-payment – A good option for people who prefer prepayment meters, this tariff would allow you to pay in advance by topping up your meter using prepaid tokens, cards, or key.
- Green energy tariff – Your supplier will either contribute to environmental schemes on your behalf or match some (if not all) your energy consumption with renewable energy. Bristol’s own energy company, for instance, would reinvest your money into local services and projects, if you get your gas and electricity supply from them.
By the end of October, there are over 4.5 million consumers who switched suppliers this year, with nine in 10 saying they are happy with the process. Do take note that switching suppliers, depending on your contract, may incur you a fee.
3) Use the Warm Home Discount Scheme
If you are eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, you are entitled to a £140 rebate on your energy bill for winter 2017 to 2018.
You have until February 28 next year to claim the discount. However, individual energy companies set their own limit on the number of pay-outs they can give, so it is best to work on this early.
4) Get a smart meter
Although its rollout is marred by controversy, smart meters would allow you to monitor your energy consumption in real time. This would give you the flexibility to adjust your usage when needed, which would then help you save money and reduce your carbon emissions.
5) Turn down thermostats
According to Energy Savings Trust, turning down your thermostat by one degree can amount to £90 worth of savings every year.
6) Pay via direct debit
Energy suppliers are more lenient with consumers who pay using direct debits. This could save you five to 10 percent monthly, since these companies would feel more confident you will not default. You could also earn interest on overpayments.
7) Claim your credits from your energy supplier
Coming off from the previous point, direct debit payments will be based on an estimate of your consumption for the year. If these estimates turn out to be too high, you will get credits from your supplier. Have any extra payments refunded by the end of the year.
8) Tune up your central heating
To keep your central heating in top shape, do the following:
- Bleed your radiators – Over time, air gets accumulated inside radiators which results in cold spots. To get rid of this, turn your heater on, check which part gets cold spots, and then switch your heater off. Attach the radiator key to the valve, turn it anticlockwise, and let the gas escape. Once the hissing sound ends and liquid comes out, close the valve quickly.
- Check the boiler’s pressure – If your water pressure drops below 1 bar, the boiler will stop working. If it drops regularly, you may have a leak and need to have it fixed.
- Powerflush your system – Obstructions will decrease the efficiency of your boiler. Power Flushing would remove any obstruction by pumping water and chemicals around your system.
Watertite provides professional boiler repairs and servicing, so you can rest assured that your boiler will continue working efficiently, saving you costs and the worry during winter.
9) Unblock radiators
Make sure radiators are free to emit heat around the house. A sofa placed in front of the radiator, for instance, would absorb the heat and prevent your house from warming up.
10) Catch draughts
During winter, you would want to prevent heat from escaping through windows and doors. You can catch draughts by:
- Sealing your windows and doors – Use draught-excluding foam or rubber tape around every door, window, and other cracks where cold air can come in.
- Shutting curtains – Keep the warmth in by closing curtains or investing in thermal ones.
- Installing double or triple glazing – This is a long-term investment that would significantly cut heat loss in your home and save energy bills.
Save On Bills, Save The Environment
Bristol is on a path towards self-sustainability, and the success or failure of this venture lies in the cooperation of its residents. While all these steps would help keep your energy bill under control, on a bigger picture, consider these your contribution to reducing your city’s carbon emissions.