As energy bills rise, it’s time to get insulating

28 Nov 2022
6 min read
Man installing wall insulation - photo by Michael Baird

The issue of rising gas prices has dominated the news for many months and the energy crisis is not going away. The UK’s biggest energy supplier, Centrica, has said that soaring energy prices could last into late 2023 but we are not powerless.

Energy efficiency measures in our homes could save fuel, cut energy bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Wholesale gas prices rose throughout 2021 and 2022. As countries began to emerge from the pandemic, demand for energy increased, this was exacerbated by an unusually cold winter in Europe. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine limited gas supplies and also drove up prices, as Putin turned off gas supplies to Europe. Consequently electricity costs rose too.

The information provided was correct at the time of publication. Some incentives and grants may no longer be available.

Energy Price Guarantee

The energy price cap is the maximum amount a utility company can charge customers per year for an average home. It is set by the industry watchdog, Ofgem.

In April 2022 it rose by 54% to £1,971. In October 2022 it was due to rise to £3,549 a year, triggering an all-out cost of living crisis.

In September 2022 the government replaced the October energy price cap with a new Energy Price Guarantee which sets bills at £2,500 a year for an average household from 1st October 2022 until the end of April 2023. Consumers will still receive the promised £400 government payment (paid as £66 per month over winter). The Energy Price Guarantee limits the amount households can be charged per unit of gas and electricity and standing charges. So if you use more energy than average, your bills will be higher. If you take measures to save energy then your bills will be lower.

Even with these interventions, energy bills are still far from affordable for many, and risk plunging some families into fuel poverty with millions choosing between buying food or fuel.

So what can we all do to make meaningful savings on our energy bills?

Get the basics done first – insulate

Britain has the oldest and leakiest housing stock in Europe. Less than two per cent of homes score top in the energy efficiency rankings. This means more energy is needed to keep homes warm in winter, pushing up gas bills and greenhouse gas emissions.

Research by the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group shows that improving insulation is the best place to start. Based on previous lower prices, better insulation could save an average household more than £500 per year on energy bills – a collective annual saving across all UK households of £7.8 billion.

As bills have risen, so has the amount of money you could save on heating bills by insulating your home. According to the Energy Saving Trust, insulating the loft of a detached house will cost around £630, but that will save £590 in energy bills every year, as well as stop 950kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

There are a whole host of simple, quick, cheap and effective measures that can be done yourself. Read all about them here.

Do your research

A good starting point is to find out where the leakiest parts of your home are so you can focus on the areas that will make the biggest difference. Particularly on windy days, track down those drafts and add insulation foam tape to plug the gaps.

Loft insulation to 30cm depth is also essential and pays back in less than a year, if you are able to undertake the work yourself. Cavity wall insulation or solid wall insulation also offer great energy saving costs. Wall insulation comes with an independent 25 year guarantee. Trust Mark is a good website to find qualified installers for carrying out work.

There are many companies that will come into your home and do an energy survey for you by using thermal imaging equipment to identify where the heat is being lost from. Surveys generally start at around £100 and some companies offer them free of charge if the household is in fuel poverty. These aren’t essential but can help if you’re not sure where to start.

Pumping money into ground source heating

Another consideration is replacing your heating system. The Government is incentivising the installation of ground or air source heat pump grants to replace old gas boilers. The initiative, running from 2022 to 2025, offers households a one-off £5,000 grant for air-source heat pumps or £6,000 for ground-source heat pumps. It is operating on a first come, first served basis and will enable 30,000 heat pumps to be installed every year for three years.

But for many people, these bigger upgrades are out of reach for practical or financial reasons. Either way it is important to focus on insulation measures first.

Support is available

There are a range of grants and payments that are available from the Government to help with energy efficiency measures and paying your bills.

Go to the Government website Find energy grants for your home (Help to Heat) – GOV.UK ( to find out what you are eligible for. The Energy Saving Trust is also a great source of information on this topic. The Ofgem website also has a helpful summary of grant schemes including the Warm Home discount, which is for the most vulnerable customers.

The Centre for Sustainable Energy has lots of advice on a wide range of energy saving topics and they have a free phone helpline for those in the south west: 0800 082 2234. 

If you are based in Scotland, call Home Energy Scotland on: 0808 808 2282 and, for Northern Ireland homeowners, call Northern Ireland Energy Advice on 0800 111 4455. If you live in Wales, Nest provides funding for low income households call 0808 808 2244.

You can also ask your energy supplier if you are eligible for support through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which obligates medium and large energy suppliers to fund the installation of energy efficiency measures. Your supplier will work with installers to introduce certain efficiency measures, such as loft or wall insulation, or heating upgrades. Eligibility depends on whether you receive certain benefits, listed here.

Finally, please talk to your energy supplier if you are worried but please bear in mind those working in call centres will be receiving a lot of enquiries.

The bottom line

Putting time into making your home warm is going to be time and money well spent as the energy crisis continues. Get ahead of the game so that you’ve done all you can to make your home warm and cosy to keep your energy bills permanently low. Burning gas produces greenhouse gas emissions so your pocket and the planet will thank you for it.


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