TEMPERATURES have well and truly dropped this week and most of us have given in and popped the heating on.
With costs already through the roof, most of us will probably see our energy bills go up the colder it gets.
The average energy bill is currently capped at £2,500 by the energy price guarantee (EPG), but it'll rise from April next year.
The good news is, there are things you can do that will trim down your bills.
Toby Peacock owns Down to Earth Electrical, and has worked in the industry for nine years – so he's pretty much seen it all.
The 26-year-old was crowned Screwfix's trader of the year this year.
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Toby, who lives in Cambridge, said he regularly spots "lots of things that could save people money".
The Sun spoke to Toby about his top tips for cutting down energy bills.
Each tip is either a quick fix or a long-term saver that will shed hundreds of pounds off your bills in the long run.
Toby also revealed how turning off the heating completely can cost you thousands of pounds in damages.
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Don't forget the obvious
Toby said that as obvious as it seems, turning your lights off is one of the easiest money savers.
He said: "I know it's so simple but turning your lights off could save you around £25 a year on your annual bill.
"It might not sound like a lot but for a lot of people it is."
When it comes to lights, switching your bulbs out to more energy-efficient ones can be really beneficial.
Toby said LEDs make the biggest difference, and switching to them can use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
Uswitch says you could save roughly £6 a year per bulb if you swap them for the alternatives.
It might not sound much, but with an average of 12 bulbs in every home, that’s £72 a year.
CFL bulbs can also have an impact, Toby said they use around 70-80% less energy than older bulbs.
Keep an eye on the kitchen
Toby said one of the most common things he sees happen is people not using their appliances correctly.
He said: "You can save around £34-40 a year on your energy bills just by using your washing machine more carefully."
You can do this by always having your machine on a 30C cycle, instead of higher temperatures.
He also said to try to reduce the number of times you use your machine – ideally to one run a week for a year.
Another simple tip is to resist overfilling the kettle, as the more water is in it, the longer it will take to boil – costing you cash.
By doing this Toby said you could save yourself £13 a year.
Toby said something he sees a lot is people underfilling their appliances like dishwashers, tumble dryers and washing machines.
The less you have in them, the more wasted energy and water there is.
Toby said: "Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the
amount of water you use.
"Reducing your dishwasher use by one run per week for a year could save you £17."
Get to know your heating system
One key thing that anyone can do, no matter what you use to heat your house, is to make sure everything is running smoothly.
If you've ever been unlucky enough to have your boiler break on you, you know that it can be pretty dire and expensive to replace.
Toby said that getting an engineer out to have a look at your boiler could avoid this in the long run.
A regular boiler service is there to help check for anything out of the ordinary and make sure that your boiler is running efficiently.
Toby also recommends keeping your heating system on at all times if it was made more than five years ago, but at a low temperature.
He said that in the same way turning off and restarting a car at traffic lights can waste petrol, the same can be said for your heating.
Another hack which could stop you from wasting energy is moving your thermostat to the most frequently used room.
If yours is in colder areas like the hallway, your heating will be trying to warm the area to a higher temp than is needed even though there's no one there.
Toby says if it's battery operated, just unscrew it and move it to a room you use more like your living room.
Take back control
Upgrading to a smart home system like a Google Nest could see you save money as it gives you greater control of your usage.
The benefits include being able to turn your heating on and off to suit you, set different temperatures for different areas, and set lights to be off at certain times.
Another way you can get more control of your energy use is by buying £15-£20 electric timers for your lights.
Toby also said not to forget about the outdoors lights: "People always think their bill ends with their back door but don't forget about your flood lights and security lights."
Upgrade those old storage heaters
Toby said that if you've got an old-style storage heater it could be using more energy than is actually necessary.
He said: "Newer smaller heaters are more effective, and ones like panel heaters are cheaper and easier to run too."
Also, if you have an immersion heater, it could be costing you money as they're usually left on for a while.
To stop this, Toby said installing timers mean that you can have peace of mind that it'll turn off and on when you need it to.
Don't make it worse for yourself
Something that Toby is particularly concerned about this winter is people turning off their heating completely.
This could lead to mould or damp in your house, particularly your bathroom and that could cost even more money in the long run to combat it.
A few years ago, a first-time buyer was hit with a £20,000 bill to fix mould and damp just 18 months after moving in.
Toby said: "Damp will build up and cost you more to deal with than letting airflow through the room.
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"Extraction fans and low-level towel rail heaters will help with this.
"Perhaps install an electric towel rail separate to heating system to keep heat ticking over if you really don't want your heating on."
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