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BE EMPOWERED; YOUR MONEY.

Byline: MELANIE WRIGHT

TOMORROW is the start of Energy Saving Week... and it's never been more important to cut costs as fuel charges go through the roof.

The average power bill has now soared to pounds 1,345 a year with gas rises averaging 17 per cent and electricity almost 11 per cent.

Yet there are still ways you can save money...

SWITCH SUPPLIERS

"PEOPLE who aren't shopping around for the best deal are simply burning money," says Scott Byrom of MoneySupermarket.com The cheapest online tariff is npower's Sign Online 24 at pounds 1,050 on average a year. But for the same price you can protect yourself from rises for a year with EDF Energy's Fix for 2012 tariff or OVO Energy's New Energy Fixed product.

FIT INSULATION

IF you live in a three-bedroom semi you could save up to pounds 175 a year by insulating your loft, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Cavity wall insulation will also cut your fuel bill by pounds 135 a year, while filling in gaps around your floor could save another pounds 25 a year.

REDUCE WHAT YOU USE

IDENTIFY the most power-hungry electrical appliances in your home by investing in an energy monitor. It could help you cut your overall usage by at least five per cent a year. And just turning off appliances at the plug rather than leaving them on standby could reduce your energy bills by pounds 35 a year.

Turning down your thermostat by two degrees could reduce your heating bill by pounds 60 a year, while washing clothes at 30C rather than at a higher temperature will save you about pounds 12 a year.

Only filling the kettle with as much water as you need could save another pounds 7 a year. Take a look at our table (left) for a full list of where you can make the most savings.

THINK BEFORE YOU BUY

WHEN buying any electrical goods, remember that the more energyefficient the product, the lower your bills will be. For example an energy-saving fridge-freezer could be up to pounds 26 a year cheaper to run and a new tumble dryer could save you about pounds 21. The type of television you buy can be just as important. You could save pounds 30 a year if you go for an LCD model rather than a plasma screen TV.

Look out for the Energy Saving Trust Recommended logo.

Case study

'We monitor what we use'

NIKKI and Nick Penn have invested in an energy usage monitor to cut their electricity bills.

It keeps a check on how much they are spending each hour as well as how much energy their appliances are using.

"The monitor has made us more careful about turning things off when we aren't using them, says Nikki, 36, a primary school teacher from Newport, South Wales.

"We were surprised at how much electricity the washing machine uses and the spotlights in our kitchen are also expensive to run, even though we have energy-saving bulbs.

"At night we only have the telly on and one light. That's when our energy consumption is at its lowest at just 1p or 2p an hour."

Nikki and Nick, also 36, who have two children, Daniel, three, and Jacob, four months, have also saved pounds 70 a year by locking into a fixed tariff with E.oN. "Like everyone, we want to keep costs down," Nikki adds.

THE OWL wireless electricity monitor is available for pounds 35.99 from www.theowl.com and comes with a free digital timer adaptor which usually costs pounds 9.99.

CAPTION(S):

Energy watch... Nick and Nikki with Daniel and Jacob
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2011
Words:613
Previous Article:Q&A; YOUR MONEY.
Next Article:QIN about 1988 I bought [...]; TREASURE HUNTERS.
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