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Revealed: Are Brits paying too much for their heating bills?

With 67% of Brits working from home for some of the time this year and going into 2021, it’s likely that we’ll see our heating bills increase. By turning the temperature of your home up by even one degree, you can add a staggering 10% (or around £80) to your annual heating bill.

So, with more people than ever under financial strain, Boiler Plan are sharing which UK regions could be overpaying on their heating bills and why that might be, plus how to reduce your bill while at home.

Over half of people surveyed believe their heating bills are too high

Boiler Plan surveyed 1,000 of the British public in total to reveal the average heating bill per region and whether people feel they are paying too much for their heating. A staggering 55% of those asked believe they are.

Sadly, there are an estimated 3.5 million people living in fuel poverty in the UK, and that is expected to rise with job losses likely to top one million this year. So, for those 55%, that could mean spending hundreds extra each year.

1 in 7 Brits are paying over £1,000 on their heating bills each year

While 20% said they pay as little as £20 per month for their heating bill, a staggering 14% said they pay over £90 per month, which totals a huge £1,080 each year.

The last reported average annual gas bill by Ofgem was £676 per year, meaning 1 in 7 surveyed are paying 27% more than most of the British public.

The highest proportion of people paying £90 per month was in Yorkshire and the Humber (25%) and the North East (15%). Staggeringly, this cost doesn’t include electricity, so many people may be paying significantly more for their energy each year.

According to the survey, the lowest heating bills can be found in the East Midlands. 40% of residents in the region pay up to £20 a month to keep their house warm.

51% of the North East feel they pay too much to heat their home

Digging deeper into the data, Boiler Plan discovered that more than half (51%) of residents in the North East think they are paying too much for their heating. This could be due to the colder weather in the North, especially as Northern Ireland comes a close second with 45% stating they pay too much for their energy.

Sadly, however, there could be another reason. The North East has one of the highest percentages of residents working in the retail sector, which has seen a large number of job losses. Similarly, Northern Ireland has seen their unemployment levels increase in a rise not seen since 2012. This could mean that people are at home more than ever and, therefore, spending more money on their energy.

1 in 6 Brits don’t think you can save much by switching, but you could save up to £300

Surprisingly, Boiler Plan discovered 1 in 6 (18%) of Brits surveyed don’t believe you can save money by switching your heating bill if you feel you are overpaying. However, they are very wrong.

Recent reports suggest that by switching your energy provider, you could save up to £300 each year. So, that means 18% could be paying more than is needed because they don’t understand the savings available.

 

1 in 3 stay with the same energy provider for more than two years, paying more than they need

A further 29% of Brits surveyed stated they had been with the same energy provider for over two years. This could mean that those staying with the same provider could believe they are being rewarded for their loyalty when, in fact, they could be missing out on hundreds of pounds of savings.

 

It’s important that you compare energy prices every six to nine months. This is because once your tariff stops (typically every 12 months), you will likely be placed on a standard plan with your supplier, which is often their most expensive tariff. This means that thousands of Brits are paying significantly more than they need to each year.

 

7% can’t be bothered to change energy supplier

7% of the public surveyed said they couldn’t be bothered to switch, but it’s important to make the time if you are able. The online process to apply for a new quote can take just minutes and, once you have chosen your new supplier, you don’t have to do anything else.

In total, switching your energy provider can take just 21 days from start to finish. That means you’ll start to see savings in time for the New Year.

Similarly, 3% of Brits stated they didn’t know how to switch their provider. If you are unsure how to switch, services such as IsMyBillFair will ask you to input information on how much you pay and can then tell you if you are paying too much in your area, providing fairer, alternative quotes.

So, how can you save money while spending more time at home?

7 tips to help reduce your heating bill and save £690

With so many people overpaying for their energy, these tips should help save money in time for the New Year, particularly while spending more time at home than ever before.

 

1. Switch your energy provider in early Autumn

If you believe you are paying too much, the best time to compare energy prices is in early Autumn. In Winter, the colder temperatures and darker nights mean we rely on our heating more than ever. But shopping around before the freezing nights set in means you can see and apply for the best rates.

 

2. Service your boiler regularly for £60 and save potential costs of up to £3,500

Regular boiler servicing will help ensure your boiler is reliable, efficient and reduces the likelihood of paying for expensive boiler repairs. We recommend an annual service - with prices starting from £60 - which will help make sure you aren’t left out of pocket, particularly as a new boiler can cost up to £3,500.

Similarly, inefficient boilers can add an extra £340 to your energy bills each year, so you can make huge savings by keeping on top of your central heating.

 

3. Save up to £100 each year with a solar thermal system

With the news of the Green Homes Grant Voucher Scheme, you can improve the energy efficiency of your home for less. One way to reduce energy bills is with a solar thermal system that can save between £60 - £100 each year!

Typically, installing a solar thermal system will cost £4,000 - £5,000 but the government scheme will cover two thirds, meaning you will pay a fraction of the price.

Plus, the ability to produce your own hot water could significantly boost the value of your property due to cheaper energy and a better EPC.

 

4. Don’t dry your clothes on the radiator

It might be tempting to dry your clothes on the radiators when it gets colder, especially if you are unable to hang them outside. But, doing so reduces the amount of heat released by the radiator, which means your boiler has to run for longer. So, if you can, try and dry them outside where possible.

You should also make sure your radiators are clean. By that, we mean making sure the water in your radiators is free of sludge, as badly sludged pipes could add up to 25%  to your energy bills. You can check this by looking for cold spots on your radiator.

 

5. Steer clear of using an electric heater, which could add over £170 to your annual energy bill

It might be tempting to turn on an electric heater while working from home, particularly if you think it will save you money instead of turning on the heating. However, the use of an electric heater for an hour and a half each day could add up to £175 to your energy bill as they are powered by electricity, which is more expensive.

Instead, opt for a hot water bottle or even set your boiler on a timer to ensure it doesn’t stay on throughout the day.

 

6. In freezing temperatures, set your central heating to 12 degrees to avoid hundreds of pounds worth of damage to pipes

Frozen pipes can be your worst nightmare in Winter, potentially costing you hundreds of pounds to repair. To ensure your pipes don’t freeze, a good rule of thumb to follow is to keep your heating to a minimum of 12 degrees.

 

7. Be Smart with your heating

Smart thermostats allow you to control your heating wirelessly through your device. All you need to do is download the respective app, and you can turn your thermostat on or off while you are away from home, enabling you to save money on your bills. In some cases, you could save up to £75.

Ian Henderson, Managing Director of Boiler Plan, said: “Many people, today, do not have the luxury of spending more on their heating. That’s why we feel it’s important to highlight how many of us could be overpaying to keep our home warm and, therefore, providing tips on how to switch energy provider. We also hope that our tips to reduce heating bills can help those who may be struggling financially as we continue to feel the effects of COVID.”

If you are interested in reading how a new boiler can help you save money, or how to further improve the energy efficiency of your home, check out our Advice Centre for more tips.