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Think green to save energy - and money

a lightbulb made out of a plantEnergy costs have been coming down recently, so bills shouldn't hit households quite as hard as they did last year when they rocketed through the roof.

Nonetheless, with family finances still feeling the pinch, it's more important than ever to take steps to improve the energy efficiency of your home to keep the cost of heating as low as possible.

And, with Energy Saving Week getting under-way this week, there's no better time to make a few changes to your lifestyle.

Going green doesn't have to cost the earth

The good news is, being energy efficient doesn't have to cost a packet, and some of the most effective changes you can implement are relatively cheap, and will pay for themselves within a year - while some won't cost you a penny.

If you are looking to make green improvements to your home, the key areas to concentrate on are insulation, running your heating efficiently, and conserving energy and water.

Get insulated

The better insulated your home, the less energy you need to keep it warm, and the more money you can save.

If you have a loft, you need to make sure the insulation is topped up to the recommended 270mm (*) thickness.

Cavity walls can also be insulated to cut your annual heating bills by up to 15 per cent, (*) and windows replaced with double or triple glazing.

Other cheaper ways to improve insulation include purchasing a jacket for your hot water cylinder and putting draught excluders around your doors and window frames.

Turn down the thermostat

By turning your thermostat down by one degree, you could cut your heating bills by up to 10 per cent and save around £55 per year. (*)

Further, if you're using the washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher, remember to use the half-load or economy programme.

Buy new bulbs

A really quick and easy way of saving both energy and money is by replacing your standard light-bulbs with energy-saving ones which use far less energy and last 10 times as long - saving you around £40 over the lifetime of the bulb.

It's also good to get into the habit of turning off lights when you leave a room, and turning appliances off at the socket opposed to leaving them on standby.

Get smart

Encouragingly, the Government recently announced proposals to fit all homes with “smart meters” during the next decade. These devices show you exactly how much energy you are using - making it far easier to curb unnecessary energy usage and to use energy at off-peak times.

First: Utility is already offering free installation of smart meters to customers, and you can also buy your own energy-saving monitor on the high street for as little as £30.

Watch your water

Given that a typical bath uses twice as much water as a shower, you should try to shower instead; you can also save money by fitting a device known as a “hippo” into your toilet - as this will save around a litre of water per flush.

If you've got any dripping taps, make sure you act promptly to fix them, and don't leave the tap running when you're brushing your teeth.

Grab a grant

There are a whole host of grants available to households investing in energy-saving improvements for pensioners and those on certain benefits - but you don't have to be financially vulnerable to get help.

Several of the energy providers offer grant schemes that can cut the cost of measures such as loft or cavity wall insulation by hundreds of pounds.

For more details of all the grants available - and for a free, impartial report telling your about how you can save up to £300 a year on household energy bills - log on to the Energy Saving Trust website at

Simple steps to cut your costs

Aside from energy-saving measures, there are plenty of other steps you can take to keep a lid on costs:

  • You could save up to £250 a year by reviewing your energy payments and switching supplier to move to a better deal.
  • See how much you can save by switiching supplier online with
  • Check out the online deals available, and find out whether you can make savings by switching to a “dual fuel” deal, where you get both gas and electricity from the same supplier. And, if you're worried about fuel prices rising, consider moving on to a fixed rate tariff - but watch out for hefty cancellation fees.
  • If you pay your bills quarterly, you can save money by switching to a monthly direct debit which allows you to spread the annual amount over 12 equal monthly payments.

Combat climate change by doing your bit

Given that a large proportion of carbon pollution is about personal choices, there is huge potential for all of us to do something - and Energy Saving Week is a great place to start.

(*) Energy Saving Trust

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