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Take control of your heating and save £75 a year

Take control of your heating and save £75 a year

Category: Gas and electricity

Updated: 21/10/2014
First Published: 21/10/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

When the clocks tick back this weekend, it's likely that more and more of the nation's thermostats will be ticking forward.

But while four-fifths of Brits claim to understand how their heating controls work, it turns out that half actually misuse energy when they turn their dial up.

Indeed, according to Energy Saving Trust, we could save a staggering £500 million (around £75 each) a year if we learnt how to properly take control of our heating and switched to a cheaper energy deal.

And given that almost three-quarters of homeowners worry about their energy bills, there should be plenty of people who want to learn how to keep their heating costs down. So, what's the secret?

First up, for those who think they know how best to heat their home (but perhaps don't) some unhelpful myths need dispelling:

MYTH 1: Turn the heating up when it's cold outside. Half of Brits (52%) turn the thermostat up when it's cold outside. However, a home shouldn't need this as the thermostat is there to maintain the temperature whatever the weather.

MYTH 2: Turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker. Over a third (35%) turn up their room thermostat when they want the room to heat up quicker. But this does not help a room become warmer any faster and only heats the home to a warmer temperature.

MYTH 3: Leave the heating on low constantly. Another third of Brits (38%) think it is more energy efficient to leave the heating turned on at a low temperature constantly, rather than turn it on and off. However, this means these homes are heated when no-one is there to benefit and when people are in the home, it's too cold to be comfortable.

MYTH 4: Hot water runs out if you stop feeding the tank. Nearly a third (31%) leave their water heating on all the time to make sure they never run out, which could be adding far more onto their energy bills than necessary.

MYTH 5: Keep electric storage heaters on all the time. The research also found that few people with electric storage heaters fully understand how they work (only 38% did). This means that households with electric heating could be paying through the nose by not taking advantage of cheaper night rate electricity.

Switching energy suppliers

Secondly, and this is potentially where some big savings can be made at a stroke, you need to make sure you're on the cheapest energy tariff. According to the Energy Saving Trust, only a quarter of bill payers have changed energy supplier in the last year.

As it seems highly unlikely that three-quarters of the population are already on the best energy tariff, it means there are an awful lot of people that could make a switch to save themselves money.

Research recently published by Ofgem suggests that 71% of an annual gas bill and 54% of an annual electricity bill comes from the winter months, so there really is no better time to make a change.

"Rightfully, millions of householders are confused by their heating controls because, let's be honest, it is a bit of a minefield," said Philip Sellwood, chief executive of Energy Saving Trust. "There are plenty of myths out there and it's no wonder people aren't getting it right.

"We are urging customers to learn about the myths, check their tariff, switch suppliers and insulate their homes."

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