We’re giving every customer the power to save
As strange as it sounds, we’re the energy company who is determined to help you use less energy. By using less, you will benefit from more budget-friendly bills and doing more to help the environment.
To help you achieve all of this, First Utility are constantly looking for practical ideas and championing technical innovations before other suppliers. This cutting-edge technology will make your home as energy - and cost - efficient as possible.
Championing better technology
Already some of our customers can get smart meters and our energy saving mission doesn’t stop there. We’ve started developing home automation technology that very soon will give you the power to remotely control your heating, lighting and other appliances, whilst some customers are already trialing the latest mobile phone app so that in the near future all our customers will be able to save energy even when they’re away from home.
Top tips for saving energy
The cheapest unit of energy is the one you don’t use! We encourage you to save energy and here are our top tips to help you reduce your costs.Choose efficient room heaters and use them wisely
Room heaters are a convenient way to increase the comfort of your home, but they can be a costly, inefficient form of heating. If you need to supplement your central heating system, reduce energy costs by choosing the right room heater for your space and using it wisely.
To get the most from your room heaters, take some time to think about how you use them.
- Evaluate your heating needs.
Before buying a room heater, consider whether it's a wiser investment to upgrade your home insulation or the controls on your central heating system, such as room thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves. Heat from your boiler is generally cheaper than heat produced from secondary heaters.
- Choose the right model for your room.
Measure the dimensions of the room in question to help you choose the right model for your needs. An oversized heater may waste energy and overheat the room. Also consider how frequently you plan to use your heater. If you'll be using it often, gas room heaters and electric, oil-filled radiators usually have lower running costs.
- Look for appropriate controls.
Room heaters can come with a variety of features, such as timers and internal thermostats, that give you greater control over their heat output and associated energy costs.
Gas heaters usually need to be installed by a professional, but you can fit electric heaters yourself.
- Use your heater wisely.
Use available timers and thermostats to heat the room only when you need it. For added savings, consider lowering the thermostat to your central heating system by one degree and lowering thermostatic radiator valves in rooms you're not using.
What to look for
- Energy efficiency. Look for the most energy-efficient models available. To reduce energy costs, choose models that are at least 60% efficient. Among gas room heaters, flueless fires are the most efficient and tend to have the lowest running costs.
- Internal thermostat. If you're choosing a gas wall heater, look for one with an internal thermostat that will turn off the heater once the room is at your desired temperature.
- Safety features. Look for models that turn off automatically if the heater is in danger of overheating or if there is insufficient oxygen in the room.
- Low wattage. The higher the wattage, the more power the heater has and the faster the room will heat up. But beware! Higher wattage also means greater energy consumption and higher running costs. If you're heating a smaller space, choose a lower wattage output to achieve greater energy savings. Oil-filled radiators are generally cheaper to operate than electric convector heaters, radiant bar fires, and fan heaters. If you just need low-level background heat, consider panel heaters.
- Timer. A timer lets you programme when the heater switches on and off. If you cannot find a model with a timer, consider plugging the heater into a socket timer.
- Variable thermostat. A thermostat gives you control over the temperature of the heat and helps reduce energy consumption by not overheating the room and wasting energy.
- Electronic Climate Control (ECC). This feature saves energy by only running the heater when it detects that the room is cooler than the temperature set with the thermostat.
- Safety features. Look for models that automatically turn off the heater if it is knocked over or is in danger of overheating.
In a typical home, water heating accounts for a quarter of your home's total energy use. Lowering the temperature on your water cylinder to 60°C could reduce your water heating bill by 5%.
It's easy to lower the temperature of the water in the cylinder:
- Adjust the hot water cylinder thermostat.
Cylinders are often preset to 65°C, but 60°C water is hot enough for household tasks and kills any bacterial growth in the pipes.
- Test the water temperature.
Wait a day to let the cylinder water adjust. Then run the hot water at a tap and measure the temperature with a thermometer. If you need to make adjustments, wait another day before re-measuring the temperature again.
- Fit a cylinder thermostat.
If you don't have a cylinder thermostat, consider having one fitted for added savings. A cylinder thermostat reduces the demand on your boiler by telling it to fire only when the water falls below the desired temperature.
Good to know
60°C is still hot enough to scald children and vulnerable individuals. For added safety, have thermostatic mixing valves fitted to your baths and showers. These devices ensure that the water coming out of the tap does not exceed a preset temperature.
Heating your home accounts for roughly 60% of your energy bill. By turning the heat down when you're away or while you're sleeping, you can significantly cut your heating bills.
Turn your thermostat down by 1°C when you're at home to reduce your heating costs by up to 10%.
Here are a few other ways to reduce your energy bill:
- Turn the heat down by 5°C when you're sleeping or out of the house.
- Dress appropriately for the season.
Wear an extra jumper or use an extra blanket to stay warm in colder months.
- Only heat the rooms you use.
If your radiators are equipped with thermostats, turn off the heat in rooms you're not using.
- Programme your heating.
Consider installing a programmable room thermostat. These devices allow you to programme when you want the heat to go on and what temperature you want in your rooms. Room thermostats help lower your gas bill by shutting off the boiler once the desired temperature is reached. The boiler turns back on when the thermostat detects that the room has cooled off.
Good to know
It's a common misconception that it's cheaper to leave your heat on all day. While the boiler will have to use more power to heat up cold water, the cost of this warm-up period is still much less than keeping the boiler warm all day.
Likewise, turning your thermostat higher than your desired temperature will not make the boiler heat up any faster. If you do this, you'll risk wasting energy if you forget to turn the thermostat back down.
Air leaks are common around windows, doors, pipes leading outside, loft hatches, and even keyholes and letterboxes. By stopping these leaks, draught-proofing can cut your heating bill by 10%.
Using affordable supplies from a local DIY store, you can draught-proof much of your home yourself. You can usually complete the work within a day, making this an easy weekend project. The best draught-proofing materials will have a Kitemark that says they're certified to British Standards.
- Reduce air leakage at the bottom of exterior doors.
- For a no-cost solution, place a rolled-up towel against the bottom of the door.
- For a low-cost alternative, make or buy a draught excluder — a tube of cloth filled with batting, dried beans, or pulses.
- For a more permanent solution, install a plastic or metal strip with a brush or wiper at the bottom of the door.
A variety of letterbox draught excluders are available on the market.
- Letterbox brushes create a seal that blocks draughts but allows the post to get through.
- An alternative to the letterbox brush is the draught-proof letter plate that fits on the back of the door to cover the gap.
- Self-stick compressible foam is easy to install. Just cut the strip to the appropriate length with a pair of scissors and press against the edges of any doors that need draughtproofing.
- For a longer-lasting alternative, install brush or wiper seals — metal or plastic strips with brushes or wipers attached — around the edges of the doors.
Seal draughts around windows. Windows can be sealed with several types of material.
- The cheapest options are self-adhesive compressible foam strips or rope caulk, similar to the self-adhesive foam used around doors.
- For greater durability, consider metal or plastic strips that have brushes or wipers attached. Brush strips are the best option if you have sliding sash windows.
- If you have secondary glazing on your windows, only add draught stripping to the secondary glazing, not to the original window frames.
- Small holes around pipes can be sealed with silicone fillers.
- For larger gaps use expanding polyurethane foam, available in most DIY and plumbing supply shops.
Treat your loft hatch the same way you would seal an outside door.
Other gaps and air leaks
- To find other draughts in your home, you may find it helpful to burn a stick of incense and watch where the smoke flows.
- Also, look for gaps in areas where different materials meet, such as where brick meets wood trim, between the foundation and the walls, between the chimney and siding, and where the gas and electricity mains exit your home.
- Small gaps can be filled with silicone sealant while larger gaps are best filled with expanding polyurethane spray foam.
If you are not a DIYer, you can hire a professional draught-proofing service for around £200. Though more expensive, professionals may be able to save you more money on energy bills as they will be able to identify the best materials for your home. You can find professional installers through the National Insulation Association and the Draught Proofing Advisory Association.
What to look for
Check the labels to determine which materials are appropriate for the surfaces you plan to seal and whether the material is for indoor or outdoor use.
Good to know
- Draught stripping comes in different lengths and widths, so be sure to take measurements before you shop for materials.
- To save money over the long run, choose draught stripping made of polypropylene, vinyl, or metal. These materials will last longer than less expensive foam.
- Make sure you have adequate ventilation in rooms with an open fire or gas fire. Fires need air flow to burn safely. If the room is sealed too tightly you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Lower heating bills.If you draught-proof your home, you'll be able to turn down the thermostat and reduce your bill. Turning the heat down 1°C can cut your bill by 10%.
- Greater comfort. Draught-proofing can make your home more comfortable by keeping water, dust, and noise out.
- Use the Energy Saving Trust grant finder to see if you qualify for any national or local grant schemes.
- Draught-proofing materials installed by a professional will be charged at a reduced rate of VAT.
- If you receive income-related benefits, you may be eligible for the Warm Front Scheme, worth up to £3,500 in heating and insulation improvements.