Cutting costs is easier than you think and the average household can save £100s each year with a few simple changes.
Save on energy bills
1. Switch your gas or electricity provider
You could save yourself hundreds of pounds a year by switching energy provider. So it’s always worth checking if you can get a better deal elsewhere, in case you’re paying over the odds. It only takes a matter of minutes to do using price comparison websites like uSwitch and Compare the Market.
Do some research and consider what benefits and features each energy supplier can offer you. The cheapest deal isn’t always the best. For example, you may want to know if they have good customer service reviews, or if they are environmentally friendly if these issues are important to you.
Find practical ways to save money on your energy bills this winter.
2. Apply for the Green Homes Grant
If you’re a homeowner or landlord, you have from around the end of September until 31 March 2021 to redeem a Green Homes Grant voucher.
The scheme is available in England only and is designed to encourage us to make energy-efficient heating improvements to our homes over winter. This should save us hundreds of pounds on heating bills in the future.
The government will be footing two-thirds of your bill up to £5,000 per household. You can use it towards improvements such as additional loft insulation or replacing single glazed windows with double-glazing, for example.
If you’re on a low income, you may qualify for vouchers up to £10,000 per household, and not have to pay a penny towards the improvements.
For more information about eligibility criteria and exclusions, or to apply for the grant, please visit the government’s website.
Tip: You can also find out about other home energy grants you may be applicable for through the Simple Energy Advice website.
Consider getting a water meter
There are two main methods of paying for water:
- Rateable billing is where you pay a set amount per year to the water company, depending on your home.
- Water meters calculate your bill based on how much water you actually use. They are free to install.
You may be able to save money on your water bills by asking your provider to switch you from rateable billing to a water meter. This isn’t guaranteed, though.
The best way to find out if a water meter will save you money is to use this water meter calculator. You can also use this calculator if you’re already on a meter and want to see how much you could save by reducing your water usage. You can claim free water-saving devices on the Save Water Save Money website.
Haggle for cheaper TV, broadband and mobile contracts
If your broadband contract has ended, get in touch with your provider and ask if they can offer you a better deal. If not, you could always go elsewhere.
Speak to your mobile phone provider when you're nearing the end of your contract, to see if they can give you an upgrade. Or switch to pay as you go or SIM only. If they can’t match an offer you’ve found elsewhere, consider switching to a new provider.
Remember, with both broadband and mobile coverage, the cheapest deal may not always be the most suitable for you. Do some detailed research to check things like coverage where you live.
Also, look at cancelling streaming services. They’ll usually ask why you’re leaving and if you state affordability, they may try and tempt you to stay with cheaper rates. For Sky, you can call them directly and ask if they'll give you a discount to stay.
Switch insurance providers - for everything
Look at the different types of insurance you have (pet, car, home and life insurance, for example). You might be able to get a cheaper or more suitable deal elsewhere. You should be able to compare lots of providers through a price comparison website (although not every site will feature every provider on the market).
Cut council tax
Your local council sets your council tax bill for the year, to pay for services like police, libraries and transport. The amount you’re charged depends on your:
- Local council
- Council tax band
- Individual circumstances
So to cut the cost, you could:
- Challenge the tax band that your property falls under
- Update the council with any changes to your circumstances - such as if you qualify for the single occupant discount
- Spread the repayments over 12 months instead of 10, if the council agrees
1. Checking your council tax band
If you’re paying more council tax than you should be because you’re property’s in the wrong tax band, you can challenge the council to see if you’re due a refund. To get this refund you’ll need to ask for a review.
To get started, you can check your council tax band on the government’s website. Just enter your postcode and compare it to your neighbour’s. If their house is similar to yours but they are in a lower band (with band A being the lowest), you could be onto something.
The next step is to find out what your house was worth back in 1991 when the council tax bands were set. You can do this by entering your street name into Zoopla and noting the price and date of the most recent sale. Make sure it’s a similar house to yours to be as accurate as possible.
Then enter the price and date into MoneySavingExpert’s calculator to get a rough estimate of what your house would’ve been worth in 1991. That’ll give you an idea of what band it should fall in to.
Note: There’s no guarantee that it’ll go down or stay the same after a review. You may end up being moved to a higher tax band than the one you’re on currently.
2. Check if you’re due a discount
If you’re over 18 years old and you are a homeowner or tenant, then it’s likely that you’ll have to pay council tax. However, in some circumstances, you may not need to pay any council tax. For example, if you:
- Are a full-time student
- Are a live-in carer (for someone who’s not your partner, spouse, or child under 18 years)
- Have a disability which results in you needing an extra room or more space
- Have a low income or claim benefits
Plus, if you live on your own or you’re the only adult in the household, you’ll be entitled to a 25% discount.
Note, these reductions are not applied automatically. So you will need to contact your council to get your details updated and request a refund.
Tip: The best way to get the contact details for your local council tax office is to enter your postcode here, and you’ll be directed to the council’s website.
3. Spread repayments
Council tax is billed annually, but the payments are usually spread over 10 months, leaving two months of the year bill free.
If you’re finding it difficult to maintain the repayments and you’d like to pay less each month, you could ask your council if they’ll spread the bill over 12 months. This should leave you with a bit extra in your pocket each month.
Be aware, this won’t reduce the overall annual cost, but it will make the monthly payments more affordable. Always speak to your council before changing how much you pay.
Looking to improve your diet on a shoestring? Check out ten ways to eat well on a budget.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.
By Adele Kitchen
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