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How to cut your bills

Published  21 September 2022
   4 min read

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 switching to another provider may not save you money or even be possible currently, while the price of gas is so high. 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 or if your deal has run out. In the past, it’s often been the most expensive option, but this tariff is protected by the energy price cap, so that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

Using a price comparison site

If you are able to switch to another energy provider and you decide to do so, 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.

Once you’ve chosen your 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.

Also, the Energy Saving Trust website has information and tips to reduce heat loss from your home.

Water

You can’t switch to a different water supplier 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.
  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. 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 available.

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 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.

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. However, the rules changed in January 2022 and it means that if you’re an existing customer renewing your insurance, you can’t be charged more than an equivalent new customer (that’s because insurers can’t give new customers discounts for switching). This means that you aren’t guaranteed to make savings 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.

It’s a good idea to try more than one price comparison site as they don’t all show the same deals. The government-backed website MoneyHelper has a useful guide on how to buy insurance using price comparison websites.

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. However, during a period when interest rates are rising and are on a fixed-rate deal, you’re likely to find that fixed rate mortgages are more expensive (possibly much more so) when your existing deal runs out. 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 help with your Council Tax through Council Tax Reduction. This could reduce your bill 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 at the shops you use.
  • Try to avoid shopping when you’re hungry, as you’re more likely to buy things you don’t need!

For more ideas, check out 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;
  • limiting the use of air conditioning and fan heaters;
  • ensuring that stop/start technology (available on modern cars) has not been disabled;
  • 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 essential
  • Pay your insurance payments annually (rather than monthly) as 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
  • For more ideas on how to cut bills see the MoneyHelper and MoneySavingExpert.