MILLIONS of households have seen their energy bills rise this winter but you can cut costs by using appliances at night.
Economy 7 and 10 tariffs charge customers different rates depending on when they use their energy.
You can save money running appliances at night
You pay more in the day and less in the evening.
If you are on an Economy 7 tariff, you’ll pay the lesser rate for seven hours and 10 hours if you are on an Economy 10 tariff.
You pay the higher rate during the remaining hours of the day.
The tariffs can help you save money if you have a storage heater or you use your energy during off-peak hours.
But if it means using appliances at night when you might be asleep, it’s important to be aware of the fire risks.
You might put your dishwasher on before you go to bed, but if it catches alight while you’re sleeping it might be too late before you realise.
Kevin Pratt, energy expert at Forbes Advisor UK, said: “The advice from the fire service is not to run appliances at night because of the fire risk.
“It’s not that washing machines and tumble dryers are more likely to cause a fire at night, it’s simply that, if everyone is asleep, the fire might spread and take hold.
“During the day, when people are around, a fire might be spotted sooner and brought under control.
“It’s the same reason why the service says you shouldn’t leave appliances running when the house is empty.”
Kevin’s thoughts were echoed by Joanna O’Loan from the Energy Saving Trust.
She said: “Whilst we’re all looking for ways to save money on our energy bill, it’s important to carefully consider any potential risks of leaving appliances running while you are out or asleep.”
If you are set on signing up for an Economy 7 or 10 tariff and turning on appliances at night, there’s some steps you can take to mitigate the risk of a fire.
Energy expert Martyn James said you can buy timer plugs, which automatically switch appliances off when not in use.
Anti-surge protectors can stop your electrics from experiencing power surges or spikes that can cause fires too.
But, Martyn added, these aren’t 100% guaranteed to stop a fire and there’s always a risk when running appliances overnight.
Are Economy 7 and 10 tariffs worth it?
Economy 7 and 10 tariffs can be worth it if done right, but if not they can cost you more.
You’ll often be charged much more for the day rate than the evening rate.
Martyn said they can be worth it if you have a storage heater and can take advantage of the nightly rates.
Storage heaters draw in thermal energy during the evening and then release it during the daytime.
But Martyn said Economy 7 and 10 tariffs might not be worth it for the average family, especially if you are at home a lot.
It’s worth bearing in mind how much more a lot of customers on Economy 7 and 10 tariffs have started paying from the beginning of January too.
Some customers on these tariffs with EDF are predicted to see 8.9% yearly rises – worth almost £144 more a year.
Because of the recent rises, in most cases, you’re not going to save more by being on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff currently.
But, if you do want to switch over to one, it’s worth checking with your current or potential different provider what its current night and day rates are.
That will help you make an assessment on whether you could save money by being on one.
If you are already on an Economy 7 or 10 tariff and want to come off it, you might be able to switch without changing your meter.
Again, it’s worth checking with your provider what your options are.
If you’re struggling to find a supplier that will let you move away from an Economy 7 or 10 tariff with your current meter, you can always get it changed.
A lot of providers will do it for free too so it’s worth looking into it.
What other energy bill support is there?
There’s help on offer regardless of what tariff you are on.
The Government is paying out £400 to millions of households to help with their energy bills.
Households will have already received a £66 energy bill discount in October, November and £67 in December.
There will be further payments worth £67 in January, February and March.
Plus, thousands of households can get help through the Household Support Fund (HSF).
The fund is a central pot of money that’s being allocated to councils who then decide how to distribute it to.
That means what you’ll get depends on where you live.
But, in most cases, the help is handed to households on low incomes or benefits.
Plenty of energy suppliers offer customers grants if they are struggling to pay bills as well.
This includes British Gas, EDF, Scottish Power, Octopus Energy, E.ON and OVO.
Charities and other organisations often offer grants that you can use towards energy bills.
Meanwhile, households on pension credit or low incomes may qualify for the warm home discount scheme – worth £150.
We’ve rounded up a full list of energy bill help for households this winter.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]