BACK in March this year I got a polite but rather unwelcome letter from my energy supplier which simply said “Dear Mr Lester, unfortunately due to unprecedented wholesale price rises in gas we are having to increase your bills with effect from next month”. It proved to be the first of three price rises between March and July and clearly there may be more to come. But I was confused. As a green energy customer why was I paying more for my energy bills? Moreover, if prices carry on upwards is there anything our family can do to keep prices down?

The challenge starts with the way energy is supplied. Most of us who rely on gas as opposed to electricity for heating and often for cooking, get the gas supplied through the National Grid. As the price of gas accelerates so too do the costs to the customers as those prices are passed on to the consumer. This impacts all companies equally, as the amount of gas that is supplied to the grid from genuinely green suppliers remains very small indeed.

As we stare into the long winter ahead are we likely to find we are entering a new season of discontent, with cold homes and potentially restrictions on some food supplies (also as a result of increased energy costs)?

I don’t think this winter will be easy, but I also think there are some things we can all do which will help reduce our energy bills.

First of all, this is a good time to look at your home and see if there are any areas which could be improved on in terms of energy. Do you need more loft insulation? Are there windows that need replacing? Have you put draft excluder on the external doors? Has my boiler been serviced?

Secondly, make sure your thermostat is set to a timer function, so it is on in the evening and early mornings, but not during the daytime or during the night. Much of the wasted domestic energy comes from people leaving their heating on while they are at work or tucked up in bed.

Thirdly, if your boiler is ten years old or more it is very likely to be inefficient. It may be time to get a new one-and if you do make sure it is “green hydrogen compatible”. From 2025 all new UK boilers will need to be fitted for hydrogen burning (as opposed to natural gas alone) as this will be a key element of the Government’s plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Finally, we will need to make some lifestyle choices to help reduce home energy use. This includes simple things like wearing more clothes (!) through to having thermostats in every room, so that vacant rooms can have the heating turned off. It can also mean closing off conservatories and other less insulated rooms through winter to reduce heat loss and even looking at entirely innovative ways of heating such as air-source heat pumps (which absorb heat from outside and use it to heat your home even with very low temperatures).

With creativity and imagination, we can all save some money this winter on our energy bills.

The future is uncertain, but one thing is for sure, the faster we move away from relying on natural gas the more opportunities we will have for reducing our heating bills. In the meantime let’s do all we can to make a difference and save on energy use and carbon emissions.