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Energy bills: free and easy ways to cut your costs

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Every penny counts at the moment, so it is worth making adjustments to your energy use even if they will each only save you a few pounds a year. These are things that do not involve any investment.

Switch things off

There are lots of appliances that draw power even when they are on standby. Figures published by British Gas earlier this year suggested that turning off your TV and set-top box would lead to savings of about £24 a year. Since then prices have gone up, so the potential savings are higher.

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Do your laundry at 30C

Going from a 40C wash to one 10 degrees cooler can make a big dent in your energy use. According to Which?, if you are running your machine four times a week you can shave £13 a year off your bills – that is about a third of the running cost at 40C. Turning the dial down even further and washing at 20C as standard will save you £24 annually, it says.

Bleed your radiators

View image in fullscreenAre you making enough adjustments around your home to save money? Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

After the summer months when the heating has been off, it is worth getting rid of the air in your radiators so that the system is running as efficiently as possible. British Gas says this should reduce your energy use and bills. It has a guide to how to do it on its website.

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Switch off the lights

The Energy Saving Trust says it takes more energy to leave a light on than it does to switch it back on, even if it is only off for a few seconds. Get in the habit of leaving rooms dark when you are not using them.

Go easy on the tumble dryer

The switching site UK Power has an energy calculator where you can check on the running cost of different appliances. It might put you off buying a tumble dryer or give you a good excuse not to do the ironing. According to the calculator, using a tumble dryer for 10 hours a month will cost about £43 over a year. If you can cut your use, the savings will quickly add up.

Turn down the room thermostat

View image in fullscreenYou can save money by degrees. Photograph: Alamy

Reducing the temperature of your home by 1C could save you £55 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. If you have a room thermostat, it recommends turning it down to the lowest “comfortable temperature”, which it puts at between 18C and 21C.

Spend less time in the shower

A one minute shorter shower will cut your energy bill by £4 a year for each person in your household, the Energy Saving Trust estimates. On top of that, there will be savings on water if you are on a meter.

If you have been working from home, make sure you claim the tax relief available to you as that will give you a little bit to put towards your bills. For a basic-rate taxpayer the relief means an extra £62.40 in your pocket, while if you pay tax at 40% you will be £125 better off.