When was the last time you had a proper overhaul of your utilities? I mean a really good look at it, not just turning your heating down a degree or switching suppliers through a comparison site, just for the free Meerkat.
The average combined family bill in the UK for electricity, gas, water and sewage services, is now over £1,800, which is a hefty chunk of your expenditure every single month. With bills this high though, the good news is that this means there is plenty of scope for savings.
When it comes to utilities, it’s often a combination of lots of little things that work best, rather than one big change, so why not see how many of these you can tick off?
Understand your bills
One of the biggest reasons that we overspend on bills and services is that we simply don’t properly understand what we’re paying for. This video from Home Energy Scotland helps you get to grips with exactly what your bills mean, so you can feel in control of where your money is going.
Pay by direct debit
You’ll often get a small discount for paying this way. It might not seem like a lot, but these savings add up remember! Plus, it’s much easier for you to pay a fixed amount every month that you don’t have to think about than have a big bill land on your doormat every quarter.
According to USwitch, the average household could save over £200 on their gas and electricty bill, simply by switching supplier. Be sure to check though that you aren’t tied into a contract, as you don’t want to be hit with any fees.
Keep your fridge and freezer full
As if I needed an excuse to stock up on snacks! Your fridge and freezer actually work more efficiently when they are full, as it takes more energy to cool the empty space.
Be laundry savvy
Your washing machine accounts for around 7% of your total energy bill, so use it wisely. Always use the shortest cycle suitable, and wash at 30 degrees unless it’s something very heavily stained. Pre-soaking can help too. If you’re interested, I have a list of 23 cool laundry hacks to inspire you.
Be efficient with your dishwasher
Your dishwasher is another big energy bill culprit, so try making a few simple changes to cut the costs here – always use an eco or energy saving setting, and wait until it’s really full before running a cycle.
Choose energy efficient appliances
I’m not saying you need to rush out and replace everything, but when it next comes to buying a new appliance, do take notice of the energy efficiency ratings, especially with something like a fridge, which is on constantly. Which? has some handy information here to help you understand the ratings.
Open the oven door once you’ve finished cooking
This is something I do do, and although it feels a little bit silly, it makes total sense. Why have all that heat just sat there, doing nothing, when it could be helping to heat your home?
Insulate your home
Adding an extra layer helps to keep in the heat and prevent energy literally seeping out of your home. There are energy grants available to help with the costs, so do take a look at these – it may be more affordable than you think.
Be careful with your curtains
Although logic might make you think that having the curtains closed would keep your home warmer, on sunny days, having the curtains open helps to heat the house, so try not to go off to work during the summer without remembering to open them.
Turn off standby
We waste an awful lot of energy every year simply by not switching off appliances at the plug. Obviously you might want to leave your Sky box plugged in, so you don’t miss your recording the latest episode of Millionaire Matchmaker, but other than that, most things can be switched off completely.
Change your lightbulbs
I’ve always thought of lightbulbs as a pretty trivial part of my electricity bill, but according to this video from NatWest, switching just ten of your regular 60W bulbs for 6W LED bulbs could save you a hefty chunk every year. Now that’s a lightbulb moment if ever there was one.
Turn lights off
Great work on replacing those bulbs, now you just need to remember to turn them off when you leave a room. My children are absolute nightmares for this. This is how I feel sometimes, arriving home…
Change your shower head
According to the Energy Saving Trust, an efficient shower head could save an average family over £60 a year on gas for water heating, as well as a further £100 on water bills, if they have a water meter. If your shower takes water straight from the tank or boiler, try an energy saving shower head to save some pennies.
Switch your bank account
This might not seem an obvious way to save money on your electricity and gas bills, but you could save on more than just utilities. With the NatWest Reward current account you earn 3% back in Rewards on council tax, gas, electricity, water, phones, TV and broadband paid by Direct Debit.
Consider a water meter
If you don’t have a water meter fitted, you’ll be charged an average rate for the whole of the UK. If you’re a large family, with high usage, this works in your favour, but if you live alone or as part of a smaller household, it could be worth having a meter installed. Have a go on this calculator to help you decide if it’s worth switching.
Turn off taps and fix leaks
A dripping tap is quite literally money down the drain, so do a quick audit of your plumbing, (I’m not talking about my Elvie review here…), and fix any potential drips and leaks. Teach everyone in the home to be that little bit more aware of how they use the taps, when cleaning their teeth for instance, and you could save a significant amount on your water bill. Don’t forget to check your outside taps too.
Use less water when you flush
If you contact your water supplier, most will supply you with some sort of cistern based water saving device free of charge, but in fact all you really need to do is add something to the cistern that displaces some water. I’ve used a full plastic water bottle in the past, but anything that means you need less water to refill the cistern will work.
Get an energy monitor
An energy monitor helps you to track exactly what you’re spending where, so although it doesn’t save you money in itself, it help you spot areas where there are scope for savings, by making you more aware of your usage.
Get smart with your heating controls
Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a few different smart heating control systems come to market, and these can be very handy. They allow you to control your heating remotely, so you can do things like switch it on on your way home, or switch it off if you know you’re going to be out longer than you expected.
Wrap up warm
Rather than sitting around with the heating on full, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, why not take things back to basics and layer up? If nothing else, it’s an excuse to treat yourself to a new jumper with the money you save on your heating bill. Better still, knit yourself one – it will keep your hands warm too…
What are your top tips for saving money on your utilities?
The NatWest Reward current account is available for £3 per month to UK residents aged over 18 only. Payments for services like maintenance, repairs and insurance won’t earn Rewards. You will also earn at least 1% Rewards on debit card spend at NatWest’s Partner retailers.