For many of us, our electricity and gas bill makes up a big portion of our monthly household expenses. Luckily, making a few small but significant changes could lead to big savings.

Get the most out of your appliances

Use appliances to their full potential.

Try not to use a half-full dishwasher, washing machine or dryer as it uses the same amount of energy as a full one. Wait until your dishwasher or washing machine is full or use a half-load setting if you have one. Heating water costs you money, so use the lowest temperature recommended by the manufacturer.

Energy efficient appliances
It is a good idea to ask what the energy ratings are if you are buying new appliances. The higher the rating, the more energy efficient the appliance will be, costing you less to run. ‘A’ rated appliances are the most energy efficient. You can get lots more energy saving information from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland at http://www.seai.ie/

Try to use smaller appliances over bigger ones.

On average, smaller appliances use less than a fifth of the electricity used by large ones – so using a toaster to make toast will only cost you a fifth of the cost of toasting the bread under the grill.

Make changes around the home

Take a shower instead of a bath

It can cost the same amount of money to heat the water for 1 bath as it does for 5 showers – so if you have a shower, save some money and water.

Turn off and unplug

Leaving electrical appliances on standby, or leaving phone chargers plugged in when you’re not using them costs money. To avoid unwanted charges, make sure you unplug all unused appliances. Unplugging all non-essential electrical appliances could reduce the average household electricity bill by between €50 and €100 a year. You can try the Electric Ireland appliance calculator to find out how much each of your electrical appliances costs you to run.

Boil what you need.

When using an electric kettle, only boil as much water as you need.

Use your dishwasher.

Surprisingly, a full dishwasher uses less than half the energy than a person does when washing the dishes by hand and uses gallons less water too. So if you have one, use your dishwasher.

Look after your boiler

You can reduce your water heating costs by 30% just by insulating your tank correctly. Installing a lagging jacket can save you up to €2.50 a week in water heating costs and can pay for itself within three months.

Install a timer control switch for your hot water tank if you don’t already have one.

You should have your boiler serviced every year to help ensure it is safe, that it operates most efficiently, and to help avoid breakdowns. Modern boilers are far more efficient and cost effective than older versions. It is crucial to remember that it is illegal for anyone other than a Registered Gas Installer to service your natural gas boiler. Registered Gas Installers have completed safety training, conform to Irish standards and have insurance. Find a Registered Gas Installer at www.rgii.ie

Eliminate Estimates

There are several ways to save money on electricity and gas. One of the first steps in paying less than you usually do is to make sure you are paying what you should be. Don’t leave it up to guesswork when it comes to your bills. Never settle for estimates, provide your own readings. The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) reads all electricity meters regardless of whether they are your supplier. However, they will only come to read your meter four times a year. If you meter isn’t read or if the ESB can’t access your meter because you aren’t at home, you will then receive an estimate bill. You can tell if your bill is an estimate by the “E” after your meter reading on your bill.

To avoid receiving an estimate on your next bill, you simply provide a meter reading to your supplier. This can be done online or over the phone and your bill will then be automatically adjusted. Most suppliers give you two weeks to provide a reading if you have received an estimate bill. This can be especially helpful if you have been away on holidays or have been using less than you usually do.

Switch energy providers

One way to save on your bills is run a quick comparison check. If you suspect your bills are too high, you may be paying too much for your electricity or gas. The best idea may be to switch to a new provider. It’s crucial to shop around. This ensures that you are getting the best deal out there for you.

Visit a price comparison site such as www.bonkers.ie or www.switcher.ie.

Door to Door sales

If a provider has called to your doorstep and you have switched and then decide to change your mind, don’t worry. There is a fourteen day cooling-off period, so if you are not happy with the terms and conditions of your contract, you can cancel it by contacting the provider you signed up to.

Terms and Conditions

Check the terms and conditions of the payment plan you are choosing. Some suppliers have no minimum time requirement before you can switch again, but others offer fixed term contracts. If you choose a fixed term contract you may have to stay with that provider for a minimum length of time before you can switch, or a penalty may apply. 

Providers Codes and Practices

If you have decided to switch and you have any queries on the move you can visit the Commission for Energy Regulation. They require electricity and gas providers to have codes of practice and customer charters setting out their processes and commitments to their customers. These must include complaints handling, customer billing and payments. Your provider must give you a copy of its codes and charter if you ask for them and publish them on its website.

WARNING: THIS IS A HIGH-COST LOAN

Representative example: €460 loan over 26 weeks. 26 payments of  €23.00 per week . Rate of interest 60.0% p.a. fixed. Representative 187.2% APR. Total amount payable €598.00.

Provident

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