Energy prices are going through the roof, and no relief is in sight, with record numbers of households choosing between heating and eating.

In April 2022, Ofgem increased the energy price cap by 54%, taking the unit rate to 28.34p per kWh and the standing charge to 45.34p per day (before this, it was 20.8p per kWh with a standing charge of 24.88p per day).

Those paying £1,255 per year now pay £1,971 per year, a staggering increase that has pushed two out of five households with children into fuel poverty.

Combined with rising fuel costs, food prices, and rent, not to mention interest rates, people have less money in their pockets. Things are so bad that Britain is heading for the worst fall in living standards since the 1950s.

And worse is still yet to come, with the energy price cap expected to increase by another 32% in October. It means energy bills will increase by 86% in less than a year, pushing record households into absolute poverty.

Make no mistake, this is a cost of living crisis.

What you can do about it

Energy price increases are inevitable, and you can do nothing about them. But there are ways to reduce your energy consumption.

Cavity wall and loft insulation 

Cavity wall and loft insulation cost up to £800 for a 3-bed detached house. It is worth doing if you can put the cash together for it.

If you claim certain benefits, you can also apply for the ECO scheme, which places obligations on energy suppliers to make customer households more efficient. You can get insulation for free under the scheme if you are eligible.

The ECO scheme focuses on cavity wall insulation and loft insulation, improvements that can increase the thermal efficiency of homes several times over.

Triple glazing

We won’t claim that households in poverty can afford triple glazing, but it is worth doing from a financial perspective if you can.

Triple glazing will pay you back within a decade, providing you use your boiler less (which should happen with a warmer home). Triple glazing is 40-60% better than A-rated double glazing at retaining heat, and it is futureproofed.

You will pay around 50% more for triple glazing than double glazing, but it could be the difference between switching the central heating on or not. If it saves you £500 per year on heating and lasts twenty years, it will be a net positive.

Lower your thermostat 

Turning down your thermostat to 18°C will shave hundreds off your annual energy bill, while 19°C saves an average of £128 over the year.

The lower your thermostat, the better, but you don’t want to be cold – if you do set it to 18°C, wear a jumper during the day.

Get a smart thermostat 

Nest thermostats save people 10% to 12% on heating, which is consistent across other smart thermostat brands like Hive.

Smart thermostats save you money by giving you control over individual rooms, water temperature, and more. They also learn your routine, so they set temperatures and schedules based on how you live over time.

Thermal curtains and blinds

If you can’t afford triple or A-rated double glazing, thermal curtains and insulated blinds are the next-best things. They can retain heat inside a room and keep it warm for longer, with a wide range of colours and styles available to boot.

If you can’t find thermal curtains you like, get curtains with a thick fabric or blackout curtains with a layer of plastic. You can pick up cheap curtains second hand on Gumtree or new on Amazon, eBay and Argos.