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Money saving

How to save money on utilities

Posted 27 May 2016

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We bring you the best ways to save money on your electric, gas and water bills

Every now and again, it’s a good idea to look at an area of your life and see whether there’s any room for saving. Just because you’ve always used a certain service or paid a certain price, it doesn’t mean you have to carry on doing so – there might be a cheaper alternative or another way of doing things. 

Today we’re going to look at utility bills – your gas, water and electricity. They are a major and essential expense for all of us, so it’s worth exploring the ways you can limit the dent they make in your bank account. Let’s get started! 

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1. Compare what’s out there

Naturally, the first tip is to get yourself on a price comparison website and compare the deals out there. Compare the Market and uSwitch are great places to start. Here you can compare the prices of electric, water and gas suppliers as well as broadband, if you want to check this as well. 

All you need to do is put in some personal details, like your postcode and the amount of gas or electricity you use (which can be found on a recent bill), and you’ll be able see if you can save. Get into the habit of checking the market every now and again to make sure that you’re still on the cheapest deal. 

 

2. Switch from prepaid meters to Direct Debit

It’s no secret that people who pay via a prepayment meter for their gas and electric are likely to be paying more – have a look at our blog on prepayment meter versus Direct Debit to learn more. 

Suppliers like to know that money is coming in regularly from an account, which is why they offer their best deals to their Direct Debit customers. 

In some cases, customers are forced onto a prepayment meter because they’ve had trouble paying their bills in the past and the supplier wants to make sure you don’t use anything you can’t pay for. 

If this is you, it might still be possible for you to switch back to Direct Debit but your supplier will want to credit check you first. This is where they look at your credit history as well as their own criteria, to decide whether to let you switch. You will need to make sure that your account is up to date and you don’t owe them anything before you try and switch. 

 

3. Get a free boiler and insulation

Have you heard of The Energy Company Obligation scheme? It’s a bit of a mouthful, but it’s actually a great Government-backed scheme. It means that if you’re a qualifying low income family, your energy supplier has to contribute towards the cost of a new boiler or insulation for your home. 

Click here to check your eligibility and complete a form, and you’ll be referred to the nearest installer to you. They’ll need to pop round to take a look at your property and also check paperwork relating to your benefits to make sure you qualify. 

 

4. Save on water

You might be entitled to free water saving products like shower regulators (they limit the water you use with each shower), or an eco-shower head. Just click here and enter your postcode to see whether you can order a free product from your supplier. 

Unlike gas and electric bills, it can sometimes be cheaper to switch to a water meter. Check out this calculator to see whether it could work for you. 

Other than that, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of water you use. You can do this by taking quick showers instead of baths, turning the tap off when you’re brushing your teeth and fixing any leaks. 

 

5. Keep the heat in

Once you’ve compared what’s out there and you know you’ve got the best deal, it’s really important to keep the heat in and make sure you’re not wasting what you’ve paid for. 

Putting tin foil behind your radiators is a nifty trick to reflect the heat back into the room. Or you can line your curtains with fleece – in general the thicker your curtains, the better. 

Don’t forget to use draught excluders around windows and doors. 

So there you go – with a little bit of research, it’s definitely possible to save money on your household bills. Remember, your utility bills are a priority payment because the consequences of falling behind on these are more serious than missing other unsecured payments. This means if it comes to a choice between paying these bills and your unsecured debts, you should put your utility bills first along with your rent/mortgage. 

If your debts are unmanageable, there’s always a way to deal it, you just need to reach out for professional help. Use one of the buttons on the left of the page and one of our expert advisors will be able to tell you your options. There’s also lots of free and impartial advice available from the Money Advice Service

 

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.