Even with Prime Minister Liz Truss’s freeze on energy costs, bills will still be very high – on average 64pc more than last winter.
So far during the energy crisis, British households have not felt the real pain of higher costs – but they will once they turn the heating on, which is the main source of consumption.
In response, companies of all kinds have tried to provide advice about how households can save energy, usually in the form of easy hacks. The reality is that these tiny changes will make barely any difference to a sky-high energy bill.
Take AO Logistics, part of the white goods company, which offered the advice of one of its engineers who urged consumers to “try to limit the number of times you open the doors to your fridge and freezer” to save energy.
“Every time the fridge door is opened, cold air escapes and warm air enters, which means the appliance must work harder to reduce the temperature,” he said. “You may notice that the doors are hard to open again after closing. Cooling the air costs money, so the less you open the door, the less you spend.”
The engineer did not go into detail about how much money such a diligent homeowner would actually save by shaving seconds off their fridge-opening times, probably because it would amount to pennies’ worth of electricity. But he is far from the only one peddling this sort of advice.
Jorvik Tricycles, which sells adult-sized three-wheeled bikes, suggested powering an iPhone by cycling, rather than through the mains. The company added: “What we don’t realise is how much these appliances are sucking from our wallet. Think phone chargers, laptop chargers, TVs, PlayStations or Xboxes.”
The reality, though, is that plenty of electrical appliances are fairly cheap to run, even at today’s rates. Charging a phone overnight, for instance, costs about 4p under the current price cap, while a desktop PC costs only 7p an hour to run.
Many of these hacks will save consumers only a few pounds over the course of the entire year – and the ones that do save substantial amounts often require more effort than they’re worth. If you are diligent enough to turn off your Wi-Fi when you are not using it, for instance overnight, you could save £26 over the year, according to ethical shopping tool The Beagle Button.
Other tips, which ask you to completely change your behaviour, are very extreme. If you fully commit to never using your oven, hob or grill again, and instead opt for the far-cheaper-to-run air fryer, you could save up to £604 a year, according to Iceland and Utilita, an energy company.
Most energy saving tips revolve around households reducing the amount of time they have the heating on. According to Octopus Energy, a supplier, a gas boiler will cost £883 to run over the winter under today’s price cap, so much of the advice is geared towards offsetting this cost.
Bestinvest, an investment company, recommended layering up by “investing in warming aids for the home such as cosy blankets, hot water bottles, fake fur-lined slippers, thermal underwear and warm clothing” in lieu of turning up the thermostat.
Appearing on Good Morning Britain last week, Edwina Currie, the former politician, urged households to put tin foil behind radiators to improve efficiency, prompting consumer figurehead Martin Lewis to bury his head in his hands.
The only way for consumers to save money in any meaningful way is to invest large sums in permanent changes to your home, such as insulation, solar panels and double glazing. But these investments take months or years to pay off.
Poorly insulated homes had been facing an average bill increase of £1,730 a year, according to analysis by Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q, and the Centre for Economics & Business Research, an economics consultancy. Some 28pc of homes have solid walls, according to the National Energy Foundation.
Insulating a three-bedroom semi-detached house costs about £12,000, resulting in savings of £745 a year under the old October price cap, according to The Eco Experts, an advisory firm.
It also found that installing solar panels cost £5,400 on average. The typical home will save £784 a year under the old October price cap by creating free energy and selling any excess power back to the supplier.