How to cut your bills

01 October 2019

4 min read

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A guide to getting a good deal on your bills

It’s a good idea to regularly review your household bills to make sure you’re not paying over the odds. It may seem a hassle but you may be able to save yourself hundreds of pounds each year by doing this.

You can navigate through the guide using the table of contents, or if you'd like to read the guide end-to-end in full, you can download the PDF.

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Energy – gas and electricity


If you’re on a standard tariff or about to go on one because you’re coming to the end of a fixed-term contract, it’s worth checking if you can get a better deal. Standard tariffs are usually more expensive than fixed-rate deals. Ask your current provider what deals it has and check out what other providers are offering.

A price comparison website can help you do this. You’ll need your current supplier’s name and the name of the tariff. Have your latest bill to hand. This tells you how much you spend on energy and the amount you use in kilowatt hours. If you decide to switch to a new supplier it will notify your current supplier and handle the switch. There will be no interruption in your energy supply – the only change you’ll notice will be a new bill from your new supplier. There is a 14 day cooling off period during which you can change your mind about the switch if you want to.

Ofgem, the energy industry regulator, has a list of recommended comparison sites.

If you owe your energy supplier money, you may still be able to switch but it will depend on the situation. For more details see the Citizens Advice website

For ideas on how to cut your energy usage see the government-endorsed website Simple Energy Advice.

Water

You can’t switch water suppliers but there are steps you can take to keep your bills down.

  1. Check if you’d save money by switching to a water meter. You can use the Consumer Council for Water's calculator.
  2. If you’re on certain benefits and have a large family or someone with a particular medical condition, you may qualify for the WaterSure scheme which caps water bills.
  3. If you’re on a low income or receiving benefits, check what additional assistance your water company offers.
  4. Read about ideas from the Consumer Council for Water on how to save water and cut your bills.

Mobile phone

Once your contract has ended with your existing network provider you’re free to switch to another one. As well as checking what deals your current provider can offer, use a comparison website to see what other deals are around.

Ofcom, the telecoms watchdog, recommends the following comparison sites:

In the past, if you wanted to change provider you had to call your current provider to request a Porting Authorisation Code (PAC). Now, all you have to do is text them for this information and pass it on to your new provider which will arrange the switch within one working day. Ofcom has more information on this service.

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Broadband, landline and Pay TV

If you’re coming to the end of your broadband contract, it’s worth using a price comparison website to see if you could save money by switching. Beware of switching during your contract as there are likely to be large
penalties for doing so.

You can bundle your broadband, landline and Pay TV together by buying a package from a single supplier. This can work out cheaper than buying them separately but check carefully.

Ofcom has approved the following comparison websites:

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Annual insurance – car, contents and building

Whenever your annual insurance policies are coming up for renewal, see if you could save by switching to a different provider. If you don’t want the bother of switching, try phoning your existing provider and letting it know you can get a better deal elsewhere – it will sometimes offer you a discount on your renewal price to keep you as a customer.

We can’t recommend particular comparison websites but some of the bestknown ones for financial products are GoCompare, Confused.com, MoneySuperMarket, Uswitch and Compare the Market. It’s a good idea to try more than one site as some will have negotiated exclusive deals.

Mortgage

If you have a mortgage, switching deals could save you a substantial amount each month. If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, there may be a charge if you switch before the end of the term so check this first.

If you’re on a fixed-rate, discount or tracker deal, you’ll probably move back to your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR) once the deal comes to an end. At this point your monthly repayments are likely to jump up. Your lender will almost certainly have some deals with a lower rate of interest than its SVR – and you may get an even better deal if you’re willing and able to switch to another lender. You can find out more about this on the Money and Pensions Service website

Council Tax

Depending on your circumstances and who is living with you, you may qualify for a council tax discount. For example, you can get a 25% discount if you’re the only person living in the property. Find out what discounts are offered by your local council at GOV.UK.

If you’re on a low income or certain benefits you may be able to get Council Tax Reduction. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.

Food

Grocery bills can make up a big proportion of your household spending so it makes sense to look for savings. Here are some ideas:

  • Plan your meals for a week and then write your shopping list – this will help you avoid buying unnecessary items.
  • Consider changing to a cheaper supermarket.
  • Never shop when you’re hungry.

For more ideas, see this article by MoneySavingExpert on cheap supermarket shopping.

Fuel – petrol and diesel

You could try using the PetrolPrices app to check that you’re always getting your fuel for the cheapest price possible.

Other tips

  • Cancel unnecessary direct debits – go through all your bank statements and identify all your direct debits. Make sure you know what they’re for and then decide if they’re really essential.
  • Pay your insurance premiums annually (rather than monthly) you’ll usually pay less.
  • Consider buying more than one service from the same provider. For example, if you buy your gas and electricity from the same supplier or your broadband, home phone and Pay TV from a single supplier this may work out cheaper than doing it separately.
  • Some service providers offer a discount for paying by direct debit.
  • Watch out for cold calls offering cheap broadband services etc. Use the industry recommended websites instead to compare deals.
  • For more ideas on how to cut bills see Money Saving Expert and the Money and Pensions Service.