Tests by BBC consumer programme Watchdog shows people how easy it is to reduce energy and water bills.
The programme is rightly focusing on the need to control rising bills, especially as we head into what could be a cold winter. We all want everybody to be warm and safe in well-lit homes.
The programme’s group of viewers – Team Watchdog – were asked by presenter Steph McGovern to make nine changes in their homes to reduce energy use.
These changes could be made without affecting the quality of life. Eight out of 10 on the team said their energy use went down by 25% overall, with a yearly average saving of £255. Among the top savers were energy-saving lighting and water-saving shower heads.
Not surprisingly, the easiest change was to swap out the energy-guzzling traditional light bulbs with LEDs.
The programme advised that for an average 3-bedroom semi-detached home, the projected annual savings by fitting LED bulbs would be £35. In our experience, that’s quite a conservative estimate and there are examples of people saving £400 a year.
The price of LED bulbs is coming down but it is always important to choose quality bulbs from brands you can trust. The reason is simple – LED bulbs are more complex than the old filament bulbs and manufacturing them requires the best quality control to ensure safety and robustness.
There are extremely cheap versions on the market that appear to be a bargain but they are too often of very poor quality, with bad light, high failure rate and in some cases have safety issues.
Choosing a trusted brand and paying a little more is well worth it as these LED bulbs will give a great quality of light and go on saving money on energy bills for many years. With average use, a well-made LED bulb will last for a decade or more.
What’s more, there is a wide range of LED lights to meet nearly every need with the purchase cost repaid quickly.
Quality shower heads
BBC Watchdog revealed even more impressive savings for households who choose to fit water-saving shower heads – £200 a year.
The best of the eco shower heads reduce the amount of water consumed without affecting the quality of the shower experience.
A good quality eco shower head will reduce the water used by up to 50%. This saves money directly If you are on a water meter and further reduces bills as less energy is needed to heat and pump the water.
Well designed and robustly manufactured eco showers should need minimal maintenance with easy cleaning and long working life.
Consumers can make even more annual savings by fitting water-saving eco taps, the best of which work in a similar way to eco shower heads – blending air with water to reduce water consumption with no loss of quality.
A good quality eco tap should quickly repay the purchase costs through savings and then go on saving money for many years.
BBC Watchdog also showed how tricky it can be to find the right deal when trying to switch suppliers. The Government has changed the rules again, allowing suppliers to offer a complex range of tariffs instead of just four.
The energy regulator, Ofgem, says it will keep an eye on the suppliers and act if there are issues from the recent changes. But in our experience, complexity makes choosing much more difficult.
Switching is one way of reducing energy bills and where it’s easy, then it’s a good thing to do but there are many other great ways to take control of rising bills – as BBC Watchdog points out. The programme’s simple tips are on its website.
You can find out more about how to reduce energy and water bills – and help the planet by cutting CO2 emissions – in our Learn&Save section.