How to cut your bills

18 March 2022

4 min read

Share

A guide to saving money on your bills

It’s always a good idea to regularly review your household bills to make sure you’re not paying over the odds. But it’s particularly important when the cost of living is rising. It will take a bit of your time, but you may be able to save some money by doing this.

You can navigate through this guide using the table of contents.

Energy – gas and electricity

When energy bills are high, it’s important to save money where you can, but it may not be as simple as switching to another provider. The standard tariff is the one you’ll be on if you haven’t signed up to a fixed rate deal for your gas and/or electricity. In the past, it’s been the most expensive option, but this tariff is protected by the energy price cap, so that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

The energy price cap sets a limit on how much your energy supplier can charge you for a unit of gas or electricity, taking into account any standing charge.  Your current provider has to tell you if it has a cheaper tariff you can switch to. You may want to switch to another provider if you’re not happy with your current energy supplier or to save money.  But before you consider switching, check whether you would be protected by the energy price cap if you move to new deal. If you’re not, make sure you know what the consequences of that could be.

Using a price comparison site

If you decide to switch, then a price comparison website can help you do this. You’ll need your current supplier’s name and the name of the tariff you’re on. 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. This applies even if you’re on a prepayment meter and owe less than £500 for gas and £500 for electricity. For more details see the Citizens Advice website.

For ideas on how to cut your energy usage, there’s a useful government-backed website called Simple Energy Advice where you can type in your postcode, give some information about your home and your situation, and it will tell you what help might be available. The advice is all government endorsed.

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 (the information is towards the bottom of the page).

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 your current provider can offer, use a price comparison website to see what other deals are around.

For a list of price comparison websites approved by the telecoms regulator, see the Ofcom website.

If you want to keep your number when you switch, text ‘PAC’ (which stands for ‘porting authorisation code’) to 65075 to start the process. Your provider must text back straight away. You can do this online if you prefer. Ofcom has more information on this service.

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, unless you’re switching because you’re not getting the broadband speed you were promised.

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.

For a list of price comparison websites approved by the telecoms regulator, see Ofcom.

Annual insurance – car, home contents and building

If you have home and/or car insurance, you may be able to save when your renewal comes round. The rules have changed so your provider can’t charge you more for home or car insurance just because you’re an existing customer, so savings aren’t guaranteed if you switch to a different insurer. 

When your insurance comes up for renewal, it’s worth checking to make sure you’re paying for the cover you need, and that you’re not over – or under- insured.

We can’t recommend particular comparison websites but it’s a good idea to try more than one site as they don’t all show the same deals. For a useful guide on how to buy insurance using price comparison websites see the MoneyHelper website.

Mortgage

If you have a mortgage, switching deals (called ‘remortgaging’ if you move to a different mortgage lender) 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, unless you’re able to switch or remortgage again. You can find out more about switching and remortgaging on the MoneyHelper 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 adult 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%. There’s a different scheme in Northern Ireland, and there’s information on this on the NI Direct website.

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 or to different brands if you prefer a particular supermarket.
  • Try and avoid shopping when you’re hungry, as you’re more likely to buy things you don’t need.

For more ideas, see this article on MoneyHelper on five ways to save at the supermarket.

Fuel – petrol and diesel

You could try using a fuel price checking website to make sure that you’re always getting your fuel for the cheapest price possible. Other ways to save include: driving at a lower speed and avoiding accelerating and braking quickly if you can; making sure your tyres are at the right pressure, and taking out anything heavy that you don’t need in the car.

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 the MoneyHelper and Money Saving Expert.