26th April 2016 at 10:24am
With the cost of household bills continuing to rise across the UK, they are one of the biggest expenses that families face.
With direct debits to cover everything from heating to broadband, many people will often see a large chunk of their current account disappearing instantly to pay them. But are we getting the best deal? And are we as energy conscious as we could be?
In order to find out more about consumers’ habits when it comes to household bills, NatWest recently ran the Household Bills Survey. And the results found that households across Great Britain are missing out on opportunities to save on their bills.
- Almost a third of consumers never shop around for a better deal on their household bills
- 1 in 10 over 65s are unaware of the energy saving schemes that are available to help reduce bills and improve energy efficiency
- Around half of consumers feel they are not doing enough to become energy efficient.
The burning question
So what bills got us fired up the most?
After council tax, it was energy that rated as the worst household bill in the survey in terms of value for money.
And while energy costs may be our biggest gripe, location seems to play its part in how best we tackle the issue.The survey highlighted some clear regional variations on how energy savvy we are.
If you live in Yorkshire and Humber and the East of England you are said to be the most likely to shop around for a better energy deal, with those in Scotland equally canny. However, Scotland also has the highest proportion of people that do not consider themselves energy conscious.
And London, likely due to its high proportion of renters, comes out as the area with the lowest uptake of energy saving measures. It’s also an area where people are less likely to seek out better deals on their household bills, including energy.
In Wales, though very focused on energy efficiency measures and products, people, surprisingly, have a low knowledge and uptake of government schemes to save money on bills such as the warm home discount for energy.
Ditch and switch
Fuel costs are clearly an issue irrespective of where you live. So, if you are looking to save on your household bills, be energy conscious and efficient, it’s up to you to seize the initiative.
The simplest, and often best, way to save on energy bills is to switch, and using an online service, which can compare the tariffs on offer for you, can be a quick and easy way to search the market and secure the best deal for you. In some cases, you could save up to £378 per year on your fuel bills just by switching to an alternative supplier according to This is Money.
One handy way of finding the cheapest energy supplier for you is by using This is Money’s fuel bills switching service. They have teamed up with energyhelpline.com to help you search the entire market and make sure you’re getting the cheapest deal on your gas and electric bills. All you need to do is enter your postcode to kick things off.
Energy saving tips
And once you’ve got the cheapest supplier in place, there are lots of things you can do to bring down that annual fuel bill even further by just being clever with your usage. Here are ten helpful tips, courtesy of the energy saving trust:
- Understand your bill – the typical energy bill can seem confusing, but getting to grips with your energy use can help give you a better understanding where you can make changes. This video from Home Energy Scotland provides a helpful guide.
- Switch off the standby mode – just this simple action could save you in the region of £30 a year. Most appliances these days can be turned off at the plug without upsetting any programming and you can even buy a device called a standby saver allowing you to turn off all those energy draining devices in one fell swoop.
- Kitchen cuts – you can make some savings in the kitchen too, up to nearly £50 a year. Using a bowl for the washing up and not a running tap can save £30. Fill the kettle just with the amount you need and save £7, and cut back your washing machine by one use a week and you’re talking a saving of £12 on a combination of energy and metered water bills.
- Use the head – if you’ve got a shower that takes hot water straight from your boiler or hot water tank (rather than electric shower), fit a water-efficient shower head. You can still get that power-shower feel but it will reduce your hot water usage. It’s estimated that for a four-person household it could save around £80 on gas for heating the water and a further £120 on water bills if they have a water meter. Calculation is based on the assumption that the family takes 20 showers a week and replaces a 13 litre/minute power-shower head with a 7.7 litre/min water-efficient shower head, and the family are charged £2.82 per cubic metre of water used (includes sewage charge).
- Towel off sooner – by spending a minute less in the shower each day it could save you £8 off your energy bills each year, per person and with a water meter a further £12 off annual water and sewerage bills. For a family of four to each do this would lead to a total saving of £80 a year.
- Draught proof – plugging the gaps in your house, be it windows, doors or chimneys, with some professional draught proofing can cost around £200, but it can save up to £25 to £35 a year on energy bills, and you can even do it yourself and cut back the cost of installation with a DIY kit.
- Heating control – more than half the money spent on fuel bills goes towards providing heating and hot water. Installing a room thermostat, a programmer and thermostatic radiator valves and using these controls wisely could save you between £75 and £155 a year. If you’ve already got these in place then just the simple action of turning them down by one degree can save between £80 and £85 a year.
- Get smart – heating management is now easier than ever with the introduction of smart heating controls. The latest digital innovations allow you to monitor and control your heating using mobile apps, meaning you can control your heating from wherever you are, at whatever time of day, heating your house only when you actually need it.
- A light bulb moment – a switch to LED bulbs and energy saving bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs) will still give you the light you need at a fraction of the cost. If the average household replaced all of their remaining old-fashioned bulbs with CFL’s and all their halogens with LEDs, it would cost about £100 and save around £35 a year on bills.
- Lights out – turn your lights off when not using them; it might seem the simplest of them all but it just makes energy sense. If you switch off a light for just a few seconds, you will save more energy than it takes for the light to start up again, regardless of the type of light. This will save in the region of £13 on your annual energy bills.
While these ten energy saving tips might not seem like huge savings on their own, when combined they make a tidy sum annually. And they can be cheap and simple to do.
And don’t forget, wasting energy isn’t good for the environment either. Most of the energy sources we depend on, like coal and natural gas, can’t be replaced – once we use them up, they’re gone forever. And the pollution most types of energy can cause is a factor.
So, shop around for the best deals, follow these simple tips and not only will you be saving the pennies, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment too.
The information in this blog or any response to comments should not be regarded as financial advice.