The energy crisis has caused a stir among many households with increasing tariffs and changes of providers. In the run up to the coldest months in the UK, it’s come at a fairly bad time. Increasing energy bills combined with the higher-than-normal rate of inflation means many households will be struggling to pay their bills and afford their normal food shops in the coming months. So, what can you do to stretch your money and keep your energy bills as low as possible? We share a few tricks you can try, together with some money saving tips to help you stay on budget this winter. Hopefully, things will start to calm down, but it’s better to be prepared when it comes to your finances.
Keeping your energy bills low not only benefits your finances but also benefits the world as we all need to do our bit for climate change. See if you can practice the below suggestions from day to day to reduce your utility bills and save a little extra cash over winter.
We often neglect water as having an impact on our energy consumption, but water is a finite resource, and it uses energy to clean and pump to and through your home. Plus, if you’re on a water meter, the amount of water you use will also have an effect on how much you have to pay at the end of the month. Try taking shorter showers, showers instead of baths and boiling the kettle with only the water you need (instead of filling it up). You’ll use less energy heating the water, and less water will go to waste.
Cleaning is another area where we can actively reduce our carbon footprint. Try to avoid washing your clothes when they’re not actually dirty – it can be all too easy to chuck your outfit in the wash-bin rather than folding it back up into drawers, but washing machines use lots of water and using a tumble dryer will massively increase your energy bills. Hang your clothes up to dry (avoid hanging them directly on radiators as this can cause damp) or hang them near your boiler to dry them more quickly. You can also wash your clothes at a lower temperature – your washing machine will use less energy as it doesn’t need to heat the water up as high – though for delicate items you may want to follow the washing instructions on the label. If you’re really environmentally conscious, you might want to look at the cleaning products you buy and whether the receptacles are recyclable and if the chemicals are harmful for the environment.
When it’s time to replace appliances, from lightbulbs to fridges, try to find energy efficient alternatives. They might be slightly pricier in the short term, but they are better for the environment as they use less energy, and they’ll save you money on your monthly bills. Appliances come with efficiency ratings from A to G, with A+++ being the most efficient. Also consider the size of the appliance you need: having a massive fridge freezer will use more energy (and thus cost you more) than a small fridge freezer.
Leaving appliances on standby costs the average UK household around £35 a year. This might not sound like a lot, but sometimes it’s the little financial changes that make the biggest difference. Turn lights off when you leave the room, switch the telly off at the source rather than with the remote and shut down video game consoles. Improving your daily habits could see you save a fair few pounds over the year.
Installing a smart meter could help you save on your energy bills simply by showing you how much energy you consume (in pounds and pence) on a daily basis. As you see the figure increase by the hour, you might find yourself increasingly motivated to stay below a daily target. For example, if you see you typically use £3 in gas and electricity each day, this accumulates to over £90 a month. Reducing your daily usage by even 50p could save you £15 a month, totalling almost £200 over the year.
Of course, your energy bills are not the only area of your finances where you could be saving money. Learning how to save can be the trickiest part, but once you work out a routine, you’ll find it increasingly easy to manage your money and make sensible spending cuts that don’t require you to change your lifestyle drastically. The key is to make changes that have a fairly minimal impact on you but with a maximum impact on your finances. Imagine if you could reduce all of your bills by £15 a month – you’d very quickly save the funds for emergencies, Christmas or even a little holiday.
In the same way you might use a loan comparison site to compare your borrowing options, use comparison sites to compare home appliances, car insurance and energy deals. Right now, is not a good time to switch energy providers because the ongoing energy crisis means your tariff can increase massively if you choose to switch. However, under normal circumstances, it’s better to compare deals across all of your essential bills to keep costs low. Never auto-renew any contracts as your premium will almost always increase (or stay the same) when you could get a cheaper quote somewhere else.
Staying on top of your finances can be overwhelming at times, so it’s worth trying to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected expenses and fluctuations in bills throughout the year. If you have a few cheaper months, consider putting the extra cash away in case of emergency, or to put towards the more expensive months. Effective money management takes time to accomplish, but small daily changes can make a huge difference – both to your wallet and the wider environment!
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