THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO REIGNING IN YOUR UTILITIES SPENDING
Nobody appreciates a sudden increase in their spending, especially in the current circumstances where many people are juggling the unsurety of lockdown and wage-replacement schemes.
Even without that additional stress, keeping on top of your bills is never something people enjoy budgeting for; even less so when they get more expensive.
Some people may have seen their bills increase in March when workers were sent home, in winter with the increased heating costs, or perhaps in summer when barbecues and outdoor lighting were fuelling our brief respite from lockdown.
Everyone’s situations are different.
However, something we could all benefit from learning is how to handle an increased bill, and how to avoid future ones from occurring.
In this article we are going to look at the main reasons why your bill is high and then share with you some tips and tricks for reducing your utility expenditure.
Why Are My Bills So High?
There are a variety of reasons why your gas or electricity bills seem to have suddenly increased. Some of these require careful monitoring of your bills in order for you to spot them.
REMEMBER: your supplier does not have to keep you on a cheap contract when your initial contract runs out.
By regularly monitoring your energy bills you make it easier for yourself to spot increases or inconsistencies, as well as making sure you’re aware of when your contract ends and how you must renew it.
Below is a list of some common reasons for increased bills:
|Price Rises||If your supplier has increased their prices, then your bill increases accordingly.||By keeping accurate records of your previous bills you should be able to compare two and notice any increases or changes. You can learn more about how to understand your bill from us here.|
|Increased Use||If you have been using your gas or electricity more this increases your bills. This can happen if you have bought new appliances or are spending more time at home.||Smart meters are a simple way to monitor your usage regularly without having to try too hard.|
|Inaccurate Estimations||If your supplier has not received a meter reading each month then they charge you an estimated usage. Sometimes this is too high, which costs you unnecessary money. Sometimes these are too low, leaving you with an expensive backlog to pay off when you end your tenancy||Smart meters are a handy way to regularly update your supplier with your accurate usage. You can also manually submit meter readings. It really is very simple and can save you money. Our handy guide to meter reading can be accessed here.|
|Heat Loss||Bills tend to increase in winter as many people use their heating more. However, if you notice a particularly high bill appear it may be because your house is losing the heat too quickly. This can be through open windows or gaps under doors, and it means that you have to spend more on heating to replace that which is lost||You can easily find simple ways to rectify this potential issue. There are many guides on how to DIY draught excluders, including a crotchet one in our guide here. Draught excluders help prevent the hot air from escaping. Find more tips for insulating your home in our FAQs.|
What Should I Be Paying?
Having a rough idea of the experiences of other customers can help you realise whether there are inaccuracies in your energy bills.
In 2019 the average gas and electric bill was £1,289. This breaks down into:
- £679 for electricity, and
- £610 for gas.
DID YOU KNOW? our energy consumption as a country has actually been decreasing, but the continually rising costs from suppliers means that prices have been increasing.
What Costs the Most?
There are a few main culprits when it comes to draining your energy supply. Here is a quick guide to the main offenders of energy-guzzling:
- Inefficient Appliances
Old appliances can cost you a lot because their use of energy supplied to them becomes inefficient. Although the thought of forking out for a new fridge or boiler seems daunting, the switch to a newer, energy efficient appliance will save you far more in the long run.
DID YOU KNOW? you can save £40 a year just from changing your bulbs to energy-efficient LEDs?
Lightbulbs are such an easy and affordable switch-up and can clearly save you a lot of money in return for minimal effort. For those who can’t update larger appliances or are fuelling larger premises, your lighting could be an unnecessary expense.
Sensor lights are another great investment in larger premises as they save you from unnecessarily lighting areas with nobody in.
- Leaving devices on stand-by
Leaving TVs and radios on standby and leaving your laptop and phone chargers switched on when not in use all add up to costing you money. A big thing most people forget to do is switching off their broadband, TVs, etc, when they go on holiday. That’s a whole 1 or 2 weeks-worth of energy you could be saving yourself!
What to Do If You Suspect Your Bill to Be Too High
There are some main questions you should consider when you begin to get concerned that your energy bill is too high. Below is a tick-list to work through:
|Are you submitting accurate meter readings?|
|Is your tariff too expensive?|
|Is there a reason you’ve been using more energy?|
|Is your home insulated well?|
|Is your heating system sensible?|
|Have you bought any new appliances?|
Let us look at little closer at these questions.
Some energy suppliers only request meter readings every 6 months. Some allow you to submit monthly readings. Some provide you with a smart meter which handles that all for you both.
Sometimes suppliers who auto-generate tariffs get it wrong. If your bill is based off an estimation, then compare it with your own meter reading.
After checking the accuracy of the bill, if you notice any errors from your supplier, contact your supplier and ask for a new bill (taking your accurate readings into account).
If your energy bill is just too high, without there being any issues, then it is time that you began looking elsewhere.
IMPORTANT: if you are on a standard variable tariff then your bills will be going up by 5% in April 2021, so it’s a good time to be looking to change to a fixed rate tariff.
You can use comparison sites, or do your own research, to help decide which supplier and deal would be best for your circumstances.
The average UK household uses over half its energy on central heating; and in winter, we use even more of it.
A good example of this is 2018’s ‘Beast from the East’, where the prices for gas skyrocketed so much that the National Grid had to issue a warning that they may run out!
It is normal to use more over the winter. Some suppliers have tariffs in place where you spread the cost of usage out across the year (paying roughly the same amount all through the year to compensate for the heavier winter usage in summer when you’ll use less).
For some people this method of paying works best as they can spread their costs across the year.
If your house is insulated well, then the less energy you will have to use to heat it, meaning you spend less on the energy you use.
The cheapest and easiest ways to improve your insulation are:
- draught proofing
- loft insulation
- cavity wall insulation
- double/triple glazed doors and windows
The Energy Saving Trust suggest that by turning your thermostat down by 1°C, your household could save around £60 a year.
As a general rule, your heating should be set no higher than 70°C, and your hot water around 60°C.
In terms of room temperature, anything between 18-20°C is considered ideal. Anything below 16°C is considered unhealthy. Keep these temperatures in mind when checking your thermostat.
Electricity use can also be the reason for a high energy bill. If you’ve bought a new appliance it could be adding extra demand to your energy usage.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, tumble dryers are one of the most expensive appliances to run.
How to Resolve a High Energy Bill
Unfortunately, you may find yourself in a position where you have a high energy bill to pay, and you don’t think you can do it. Do not worry.
You can call your supplier and ask them to arrange a payment plan.
The important thing to do is let your supplier know and let them make a plan with you. Your supplier is obliged to help you find a solution.
Even though it is a daunting situation make sure to ask for help from those who can provide it.