Cost of living: Couple outline 'significant impact' of energy bills

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A piece of technology that automatically turns off devices when you aren’t using them could save you nearly £150 a year, which could prove vital given that bills soared again this month. While Prime Minister Liz Truss’ Government is stepping in with an energy price guarantee which freezes bills at £2,500 for a typical household, the cost of the price cap has still increased by £500. 

But even with a £400 winter discount which households will receive from this month and a £1,200 grant for the most vulnerable households, billpayers are still feeling the impacts of rising gas prices as winter approaches. 

And as it gets colder, the more energy households are expected to use. While it is evident that families be more reliant on heating in the coming months, British gas argues that switching devices off at the wall that are not being used could save up to £147 a year.

And according to experts, a plug-in timer, which automatically switches off devices that are not in use, could prove to be a vital lifeline. The device can be used to switch off anything from  TVs, radios, microwaves to smart speakers and games consoles or any other devices that keep the bill running even when not in use. 

At just £5 a pop in many cases, a  plug-in timer will limit the damage on your electricity bill, helping to alleviate some of the pressures as gas prices surge. 

Simon Oram, Electrical & Smart Technology Manager at Toolstation has some advice for choosing a plug-in timer, he said: “Plug-in timers come in both mechanical and digital versions which suit different needs. Mechanical versions tend to be more affordable but some find them a little fiddly.

And while some say mechanical plug-in timers are more durable, digital ones do offer greater programmability. For example, you can set different schedules for different days of the week. If you’re just looking for ways to save on your energy bill, essentially, a mechanical version is all you need.”

For instance, the average UK household watches around 3 hours of TV daily. But most people leave their TVs on standby the rest of the time, which needlessly uses up electricity and will add to your bill. 

Instead of going through the effort of physically fumbling behind the TV to turn off the socket, a plug-in timer can get rid of the hassle and which many people otherwise would forget to do. 

Many households also have the same problem of forgetting to switch lights off, and many even deliberately keep them on to deter thieves. But a plug-in timer can be used to control just a few lamps throughout the house rather than several main lights, which may be able to have the same effect while also saving on bills 

This also comes amid warnings that households may be urged to limit energy consumption to avoid the risk of blackouts this winter. National Grid may have to ask millions of homes to keep a closer eye on their energy use as in the “extreme” case of gas shortages and reduced electricity imports from the rest of Europe.

The company has also warned that Britons may have to experience three-hour rolling blackouts under an “extreme scenario” where major energy exporters to Britain, such Belgium and the Netherlands, may not be able to send enough gas or electricity to generators in the UK. 

Climate minister Graham Stuart told Sky News on Friday: “The last thing you want to do is tell someone, you know, switch things off for the national need when it makes no difference to the national security position. 

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“We think that we’ve got a diverse, strong supply and in all the central scenarios we’re going to be fine but we plan for everything.”

National Grid, which manages Britain’s power and gas systems, is also set to launch a voluntary scheme next month offering cash to domestic customers with smart meters and businesses to get them to limit their energy consumption during peak hours when supplies are scarce.

But a spokesperson from Number 10 said back in August: “These decisions, in terms of energy consumption, remain decisions for individuals. Households, businesses and industry can be confident that they will have the electricity and gas that they need.

“We support the National Grid in developing all options which could benefit consumers and help to reduce bills by spreading out peak demand.”

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