After a mild winter and a fall in oil prices, the energy companies have decided that the time is right to reduce their prices. This is welcome news to many households who have struggled with the cost of their energy bills, but should we be grateful?
The answer is 'No'.
In 2011, just in time for winter when energy consumption is at its highest, all energy companies raised their gas prices by an average of 17.4% and their electricity by an average of 10.8%.
Luckily for the consumer the winter proved to be milder than many had expected allowing many to reduce the amount of time they would need their heating turned on.
Now the price reductions we are seeing at the start of 2012 are pitiful to say the least. What we are seeing is a 5% reduction from each company on either gas or electricity. Compared to the amount prices rose before Christmas, this reduction seems quite insulting to say the least.
Clare Francis, site editor at price comparison site Money Supermarket said ""The lack of reduction to the cost of customers' gas bills will be a huge disappointment - especially as British Gas hiked gas prices by 18% in July last year."
Installing solar panels on to your property is not only a great way to conserve your energy consumption but it is also a great money making benefit.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, an average 2.2kWp system can save between £90 and £180 a year off your electricity bills.
Over the last couple of months there has been a lot of attention around solar power mainly due to the controversial plans announced by the by the Government to slash the FIT scheme payments by over 50%.
Although a 2.2kWp system can cost around £11,500 to install, over the course of 25 years the FIT scheme can actually make you £13,750 even after the proposed cuts. Those who are already on the FIT tariff scheme before the 12th December 2011 will be unaffected and could end up earning around £27,500 over 25 years.
This is something that is still in dispute but you can keep up with all the latest developments in our solar power news section.
How to reduce your energy consumption
According to a survey conducted by MoneySupermarket.com at the back end of 2011, it found that one in four people were actually afraid to turn their heating on due to what their energy bills may amount to.
Scott Byrom, energy expert at the price comparison site said ""Energy bills are certainly a 'hot topic' at the moment with the government urging consumers to take control and switch to cheaper deals. Our survey found that worryingly six per cent of respondents can't afford to turn on their heating".
There is help available for the more vulnerable customers in the form of the warm home discount scheme. This scheme forces energy companies of a certain size to provide a rebate to their most vulnerable customers. Over this winter period many could see a rebate of up to £120.
There are other ways to reduce your energy consumption and save on your gas and electricity bills. Here are ten top tips to follow.
1. If you turn down your thermostat by just one degree, this could save you up to ten per cent off your energy bills each year.
2. When you leave any appliance on stand-by it is still using energy. Get into the habit of turning all appliances off at the wall.
3. Grants are available for those who wish to install cavity wall insulation and/or loft insulation. Installing this type of insulation reduces the heat lost from your home.
4. Only heat the rooms you use the most. For example a family may need to heat all their rooms whereas a couple or a single person may only need to heat one or two rooms.
5. Energy saving light bulbs are relatively cheap to purchase and installing them where possible can help reduce your electricity consumption.
6. Losing heat from your home is effectively losing you money. So plug up any holes or gaps and use a draught excluder where possible.
7. Double glazing is a great way to keep your home energy efficient. Not only can it save you £100 a year off your energy bills but it can also increase the value of your home and make your home more secure.
8. Only fill the kettle up with the amount of water you need.
9. Washing powders these days are just as effective at lower temperatures so set the washing machine to wash your clothes at around thirty degrees.
10. Energy monitors are a great way of seeing how much energy your home is using at any given point. Watch the video below for an in depth guide on how to get the most out of your energy monitor.