How to save money on utility bills

More money saving tips from LoanPig. 

Energy bills are big news yet again. In July it was reported that people who have smart meters installed might only save an average of £11 annually on their energy bills, much less than originally hoped. Then in August British Gas announced it is to increase its gas and electricity prices for its 3.5 million customers: the second increase this year. It blames the increase on an increase in wholesale energy prices, so other energy suppliers may well follow suit.
Meanwhile it was also announced earlier in the year that the average water and sewerage bill in England and Wales is set to rise by £9 to £405 a year.
So it seems that all our essential utilities – gas, electricity and water – continue to get more and more expensive. We can’t do without them but fortunately there are some ways in which we can keep costs down. Try the following money saving tips to see a difference in your bills and have more change in your pocket:

1. Switch energy supplier

Changing energy supplier is easy and can knock hundreds of pounds off your bills. According to Ofgem, the average household could save around £300 per year by switching gas and electricity supplier. You can switch supplier whether you own or rent your home, as long as you pay your own gas and/or electricity bills.
Switching supplier is easy and should only take 17 days. All you need to do is look at a price comparison website – Ofgem provide a list here. You will need to have a recent energy bill or information from your current supplier so that you have information about your current energy plan, including how much you use and the name of your tariff.
All you then need to do is to choose the new supplier you want to change to and they will then arrange the switch and will ask you to provide meter readings. Your old supplier will send you a final bill and you should then be able to start saving money with your new supplier.

2.Consider having a water meter installed

At the moment, domestic water customers can’t choose their supplier. So there is no water equivalent of switching supplier like we have just looked at for gas or electricity. However, one thing you can do is to consider getting a water meter installed. This means that you will be charged for the amount you actually use, rather than charged a fixed annual amount.
A water meter could save you between £50-£100 per year, but is more cost-effective for homes with either an individual, a couple or a small family. General guidance from the water regulator Ofwat is that a water meter could be more effective if there are more bedrooms than people in your household.
To find out whether it is worth you getting a water meter, try this calculator from CCW (Consumer Council for Water).
If you do get a water meter installed but find you are not saving money then you are entitled to switch back to fixed charging for up to 12 months after the water meter is installed.

3.Pay by direct debit

For all utility bills it is usually better to pay by direct debit. Some companies offer discounts if you are paying by direct debit, enabling you to make extra savings. Paying by direct debit also enables you to spread payments evenly throughout the year so that you don’t face hefty bills during the winter, when there’s also Christmas to think about. It also means that you don’t need to worry about missing payments as they are all made automatically for you.

4.Use less

For all utilities, the less you use the lower your bills will be. There are a number of ways in which you can cut back without affecting your day to day life too drastically:
  • Before turning the heating on or up just think whether you really need to: sometimes and extra layer of clothing or bedding is all you need to keep warm for less.
  • When the heating is on, turn down your thermostat slightly: even a 1°C reduction could cut 10% off your heating bill!
  • During the winter, keep your heating turned on constantly on a low heat setting : this is more economical than switching it off and on, as it then has to heat up the whole home from scratch.
  • Get into the habit of always turning off lights when you leave a room.
  • Use energy saving light bulbs as they last up to 10 times longer than ordinary bulbs and don’t cost very much more.
  • When boiling the kettle don’t use more water than you need.
  • When using the oven you don’t usually need to preheat it – in fact you can lose a lot of energy by opening a preheated oven to put food in.
  • Also when using the oven, maximise the use of it. Try and cook several meals at the same time: extra food can be frozen for later.
  • Showers tend to use less water and energy than baths, though this may not be the case for a power shower. If the pressure is at its highest it can use just as much water as a bath, so turn the pressure down to save energy.
  • Fill up your washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher – one full load uses less energy than two half loads.
  • When using the washing machine wash your clothes at a low temperature – 30-40 °C. This saves money, as 90% of a washing machine’s energy expenditure is spent on heating the water.
  • Try to hang laundry to dry rather than tumble drying it,  but if you do use a dryer then take your clothes out before they’re completely dry. This saves energy and also makes clothes much easier to iron.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer full as this will save energy. If there is empty space in your fridge or freezer it means that every time you open the door, cold air escapes easily meaning that the appliance then has to cool things down again. If you do not have enough food to fill them, jugs, bowls or plastic bags of water will work equally well.

5. Make your home more eco-friendly

It is also worth looking at more far-reaching ways of saving money on your utility bills. Planning some bigger energy conservation measures for your home could potentially save you around £250 per year.
Some of the measures that you might want to consider are a new boiler, cavity wall insulation, loft insulation, or solar panels. Check out the Energy Saving Trust website for further information and ideas.
Some of the above measures also have energy-saving grants available to help with the cost of home improvements. You can find details of grants on theGov UK website.
We hope that these money saving tips are useful and help you to cut down your utility bills in time for winter. Remember to check back here soon for more financial help and advice from Loan Pig.