Rising gas costs are becoming an everyday worry for most of us. Saving energy and reducing your gas bill go hand in hand. We all want cheaper gas, so if you take steps to use less energy you will save your own money and be taking steps to help the environment too.
Perhaps the first thing is to make sure your gas supplier is offering the best deal for you, in order to keep your bill low. There are many different providers offering various tariffs to suit your usage.
There are many different gas suppliers to choose from these days and their prices vary significantly. You need to have a good idea what your annual consumption is, in order to decide on the best supplier for your needs.
If you do not have this information you can still get a quotation based on the size of your house and the number of people living there.
There are many websites which enable you to compare one company with another, but it is as well to try several different websites before signing up with a particular supplier.
Some suppliers are offering discounts for buying both gas and electricity and this is often worth considering. There are also fixed price deals to be had, but nowadays these are not usually for very long.
One thing is for certain - energy prices will be going up regularly by quite large amounts in the future, making it even more important to get the best deal you can. Look around and see if you can get cheaper gas.
There are some very basic steps you can take to reduce gas consumption, so simple that you may not have thought of some of them!
One obvious step to saving on your gas bill is to operate your heating system at a slightly lower temperature. If you turn down the thermostat by just 1 degree centigrade, you could reduce your energy use by around 10%.
Many utility companies offer discounts for different methods of paying. Most firms will reward you for paying a regular fixed amount every month. This has the big advantage that there are no nasty shocks when you get your quarterly bill. Make sure to negotiate a realistic fixed monthly amount that will cover winter and summer use.
Another cost saving that gas companies often pass on to consumers is opting for online billing and account operation. This has the important additional effect of saving unnecessary paper production and waste.
There are often fixed price gas tariffs on offer, which although more expensive in the short term, over a longer period in these days of frequent energy price increases, can prove a very wise decision.
Finally, if you buy your gas and electricity from the same utility company, they may offer a dual-fuel discount. This is often quite significant, but it does limit your ability to shop around for separate suppliers.
You need to make sure your home is energy efficient; to prevent loss of expensive energy, by ensuring you have adequate insulation.
Loft insulation is one of the most vital areas of heat loss and often the easiest and cheapest to address.
The depth of loft insulation required under building regulations for new homes is far more than it used to be, but there is no reason why older homes should have any less.
Mineral wool can be bought quite cheaply from DIY outlets and it is a relatively easy job to fit it in the loft space.
There may be grants available locally or nationally, to help you to upgrade the insulation and energy saving properties of your home. There are even grants available for the purchase of a new condensing boiler.
•There are often grants available for householders who wish to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. These are not always confined to owner-occupiers, so those in rented accommodation can often take advantage too.
It is always worth contacting your local authority to see what grants are available. Funding is often made available to them by central government to assist residents to update their homes. Don't let a bit of form filling put you off as many contractors will willingly offer help with this.
It is your right to take advantage of all grants that are available to you and the council will frequently offer help and advice to those in need.
Pensioners and those on a low income are often entitled to more help and also with fuel costs especially during a cold winter.
You could get a grant to help with the cost of a new condensing boiler, which would have a much higher efficiency than your old style boiler.
Many people have work on their homes done, only to discover afterwards that financial help would have been available if they had applied before work was started. Retrospective applications are not usually allowed.
Check the energy consumption of the gas appliances in your home. You may find that there are some that use more gas than you thought, which only means a higher bill!
•Many householders have little idea how much gas their appliances use. It is often possible to see a label attached to the apparatus giving the efficiency rating but often this means little to the consumer.
What is useful, if you have a gas central heating and hot water system, is to discover what the consumption for water heating only is.
Turning the heating thermostat to minimum, thus leaving only the water heating operating, you can easily do this. Leave the system running for say, a week, and record the reading on your gas meter at the same time each day.
This will soon tell you the weekly consumption and you can then experiment with the temperature settings to see if you can reduce the gas consumption, without altering your comfort level.
You will often find that you can reduce the temperature and timer settings quite considerably, thus saving money.
If you have other gas appliances, such as a cooker and perhaps a gas fire, you can check the consumption of each item individually; by turning off all the other gas appliances and just leave the item that you are interested running.
Don't be tempted to alter anything but the normal user controls on an appliance, to check the effect on consumption.
Once you have learned about the consumption of all the gas using items in your house you will be well equipped with the knowledge to enable you to save energy and reduce your gas bill.
When the time comes to replace appliances, take the opportunity to choose the most energy efficient. You will save yourself money in the future by making a carefully considered purchase.
•When the time comes to replace any gas item it can pay you to do a little research to determine the most energy efficient appliance to suit your needs.
Kitchen appliances use a lot of gas, but these days’ improvements in technology have resulted in big savings in energy consumption. If you have a separate hob and oven, it might make sense to keep the hob as gas, but make the oven electrically operated.
This is not because electricity is any cheaper, but in the future it may pay not to have all your eggs in one basket and electric ovens sometimes have more sophisticated automation.
If you have an older style central heating boiler, it will save you money if you replace it with a modern condensing type. Condensing boilers have efficiencies in the upper ninety per cent range. You can often get a grant for a boiler upgrade.
Any heating by gas consumes large amounts of energy and nowadays the energy efficiency of appliances is marked on them when displayed in the shop. Look for the ones offering the best economy.
They are not necessarily more expensive, but the increased efficiency will save you money in the future.
Become a little greener yourself - These days, being aware of our environmental responsibilities need not mean going without the luxuries in life, especially if you get a lower gas bill too!
•The more time goes on, the more people are turning to greener solutions to their power requirements. This is not surprising as we come to realise the consequences of our reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Global warming will affect us all.
There are several things we can do about this. We can buy our gas from suppliers who make some efforts towards renewable energy investment. The larger suppliers often have this option, but there are few whose commitment is total.
Why not investigate alternative methods of heating your home? Using a renewable energy source can often do this.
There are all sorts of heaters available, like a nice cosy woodstove, which is easy to operate and may even offer thermostatic and remote control.
There are central heating boilers, which use wood chips/pellets and don't cause any mess. They are sometimes more expensive to buy initially, but grants are often obtainable.
One important renewable energy solution is to heat your hot water by solar heating. This involves fitting panels or evacuated tubes on your roof to harness the power of the sun.
This method can provide all your hot water from April to October in the UK, with only a moderately sized system. At other times of the year the system would augment your existing heating method and save a lot of money.
All the above information provides hints and advice about saving money and lowering your gas bill. Remember every little helps and the more energy we save, the less has to be produced and the environment will be all the better for it...
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