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Introduction Running a household is hugely expensive these days, and although you can’t do much about some costs – like the mortgage or the rent – you can significantly cut other household expenses. This eBook gives you practical tips on how to reduce your household bills. You’ll find simple steps that explain where you can make savings on your utility bills and other household expenses, as well as tips and tricks to help you save money on your electricity, gas and water bills.

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Contents Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 2 Chapter 1: How you can cut your household costs .................................................................. 5 Watch where the money goes ................................................................................................ 5 Read your meter .................................................................................................................. 5 Go for a bundle .................................................................................................................... 5 Claim cash incentives ........................................................................................................... 5 Generate your own energy .................................................................................................... 6 Change how you pay ............................................................................................................ 6 Waste less ........................................................................................................................... 6 Choose the right tariff ........................................................................................................... 6 Look into meters .................................................................................................................. 6 Switch supplier .................................................................................................................... 6 Chapter 2: How to switch providers – and avoid the hidden costs ........................................... 8 1. Your needs ...................................................................................................................... 8 2. What’s included?.............................................................................................................. 8 3. Use comparison sites… ..................................................................................................... 8 4. …Then call the provider .................................................................................................... 8 5. Invite competition ............................................................................................................ 9 6. Opt short-term.................................................................................................................. 9 7. Avoid fixed tariffs ............................................................................................................ 9 8. Use the cooling-off period ................................................................................................. 9 9. Pay by direct debit ............................................................................................................ 9 10. Track your spend ............................................................................................................ 9 Chapter 3: How to save on your electricity bill ..................................................................... 10 Upgrade your storage heaters .............................................................................................. 10 Wash wisely ...................................................................................................................... 10 Cooking ............................................................................................................................ 10 Switch to a cheaper fuel ...................................................................................................... 10 Energy efficient white goods ............................................................................................... 11 Fridge and freezer costs ...................................................................................................... 11 Switch off ......................................................................................................................... 11 Don’t fill the kettle ............................................................................................................. 11 Replace light bulbs ............................................................................................................. 11 Get an immersion timer ...................................................................................................... 12 3


Chapter 4: How to save on your gas bill ............................................................................... 13 The right boiler .................................................................................................................. 13 Heating controls................................................................................................................. 13 Radiators .......................................................................................................................... 13 Toughen up ....................................................................................................................... 13 Cooking ............................................................................................................................ 13 Insulate your loft and cavity walls ........................................................................................ 14 Draught-proofing ............................................................................................................... 14 Chapter 5: How to save on your water bill ........................................................................... 15 Switch to a water meter ...................................................................................................... 15 Check your water usage ...................................................................................................... 15 Read the meter................................................................................................................... 15 Water saving freebies ......................................................................................................... 15 Flush less often .................................................................................................................. 16 Turn the taps off ................................................................................................................ 16 Take a shower‌ ................................................................................................................ 16 ‌ Or a reduced capacity bath .............................................................................................. 16

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Chapter 1: How you can cut your household costs Energy bills can take a huge chunk out of the budget, but here are a few tips to help bring them down.

Watch where the money goes If you want to see just where your money goes, invest in an energy monitor – a nifty handheld gadget which will show you at a glance where savings can be made. Turn off all your appliances, then switch them back on one by one – you’ll soon see where you can cut down. Or try the free home energy check at EnergySavingTrust.co.uk, which it claims could save you £250 per year.

Read your meter Don’t ignore those emails that tell you it’s time to read the meter. If you don’t supply regular readings your bills will be based on estimates, and you could end up shelling out for more gas or electricity than you use.

Go for a bundle It’s not quite two for the price of one, but many providers now offer internet, phone and TV packages at a discount. Buying your gas and electricity from the same firm is also often cheaper – but not always, so look around before you tie yourself in.

Claim cash incentives Believe it or not there are people out there who want to give you money to make your home more energy-efficient. Depending on your circumstances you could be eligible for grants or discounts to lessen the cost of loft and cavity wall insulation, draught proofing and central heating – while the Renewable Heat Incentive offers cash to help with the cost of renewable technologies like heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar water heating.

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Generate your own energy Fed up with price hikes from the ‘Big Six’ energy firms? Produce your own with renewable technologies and you’ll not only save on bills but could earn hard cash for selling any extra back to the national grid.

Change how you pay Quarterly bills can be a shock to the system, but change to direct debit and you’ll know exactly what to pay when. Plus, lower admin costs make it cheaper to go paperless, so switch to an online plan and pocket the difference.

Waste less Day to day the best way to take the edge off household bills is simply to waste less energy. There are plenty of ways to save, from using energy-efficient products to changing your habits so you only use what you need. Below are a few more tips and tricks to help you save on your electricity, water and gas bills.

Choose the right tariff Dual fuel, prepay, fixed or green? There’s a ridiculous array of tariffs out there making it hard to compare like for like, but as a rule the cheapest tend to be dual fuel online deals. Don’t be fooled by advertising – think carefully about your needs and always read the small print before you sign on the dotted line.

Look into meters Having a meter can sometimes help us budget and cut costs on our utilities, particularly water meters. As a rule of thumb, a house that has fewer occupants than bedrooms will save money with a meter.

Switch supplier Six out of ten consumers have never changed supplier, but make the switch and you could save hundreds on your gas and electricity bills each year. Check out a comparison site, then 6


call your current provider to see if they can match the best deals – but be wary of long-term contracts which come with strict financial penalties if you want out later. Also, read on to find out how to avoid the hidden costs of switching providers.

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Chapter 2: How to switch providers – and avoid the hidden costs Switching your phone, broadband, TV or gas and electricity provider is supposed to save money but all too often there are hidden costs. Follow these top ten tips to getting the most out of your switch…

1. Your needs Think carefully about what you want from your new provider. For instance, do you usually use the phone at the weekends or do you often call abroad? Is most of the energy used in the evening? By focusing on the needs of your family, you can pinpoint what you’re looking for in your provider and not be bamboozled by smooth marketing tactics.

2. What’s included? Find out exactly what’s included – will you still retain your voicemail services? Is there a UK-based call centre if you need any help? Good customer service is sometimes worth paying a bit extra for, so work out the best deal for you.

3. Use comparison sites… Look on comparison websites for the best deal. It will save you a lot more time than going through each provider separately. And consider a bundle package that incorporates broadband and phone, and even TV, as this can work out cheaper.

4. …Then call the provider Once you’ve seen a deal that looks appealing, ring the provider direct as comparison websites can add on their own commission. See if they have an even better offer for you.

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5. Invite competition Before you change providers, speak to someone on the customer service team at your current company. It’s surprising what kind of offer can suddenly be arranged when they think one of their customers is about to defect to a competitor.

6. Opt short-term Be wary of very large discounts. Usually big savings are offered in conjunction with a longterm contract. These can last up to two years. If you later decide you’ve chosen the wrong provider and want to leave the contract early, then you could be subject to a substantial penalty.

7. Avoid fixed tariffs Avoid fixed energy tariffs. They guarantee the price you pay will stay the same for a set amount of time and help you budget, but if prices fall you could end up paying more for your energy. You’ll probably have to pay a premium for the privilege too. Instead, consider standard or capped tariffs. Some companies still reserve the right to increase fixed energy tariffs anyway, if the costs of raw commodities – such as oil and gas – rises.

8. Use the cooling-off period Make use of the cooling-off period provided by your new utility provider, when you have the right to change your mind about the transfer without being fined. Make time to look through the deal again before this window closes.

9. Pay by direct debit If you’ve always paid by cash or cheque, then consider setting up a direct debit. There are often savings to be made, plus you don’t have to worry about incurring a fine for late payment because it’s done for you.

10. Track your spend With regards to gas and electricity, look into energy-efficient grants for insulation and ensure you read the meter on a regular basis. Double-check that your payments match the energy you’ve been using.

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Chapter 3: How to save on your electricity bill Need an extra mortgage to pay your electricity bill? Try these tips to help save energy and cash.

Upgrade your storage heaters Storage heaters can eat electricity, but if a new central heating system is out of the question think about upgrading your existing set-up. According to the Energy Saving Trust, new fanassisted models with better controls could save you up to £150 per year.

Wash wisely Up to your neck in laundry? The average washing machine handles 274 loads each year, but stick to 30 degrees and you’ll use up to 40% less electricity than washing at higher temperatures. Gas tumble dryers use just 10% of the energy an electric model consumes, or better still hang your clothes out in warm weather and save £15 on your annual bill.

Cooking Cooking accounts for about 4% of your electricity bill but you can still save money by being more energy-efficient in the kitchen. Don’t preheat the oven unless absolutely necessary, cook more than one dish at a time, and keep the door closed to prevent precious energy escaping. And if you’re just reheating – use a microwave.

Switch to a cheaper fuel Electricity is by far the most expensive way to heat your home so switch to gas or oil wherever possible. Check out what financial assistance is available as you could be eligible for a grant to help with installation costs.

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Energy efficient white goods Domestic appliances account for almost half of our electricity consumption, so if you’re replacing white goods like cookers, fridges and washing machines look for the EU energy label which tells you their energy efficient rating from A to G. Labels are required by law and also include useful information on capacity, noise and water consumption.

Fridge and freezer costs Is your fridge working harder than it needs to? Give it a helping hand by letting food cool first, making sure seals are intact and not leaving the door open. Keep your freezer full, defrost regularly and try cleaning the condenser coils at the back as dust can stop it from working efficiently.

Switch off It’s a myth that gadgets don’t use power when they’re ‘sleeping.’ Leaving your TV in standby mode will just waste energy so either switch off, or get a standby saver which automatically cuts power after a set time. Additionally, switch off printers, speakers and monitors and unplug chargers as soon as they’ve done their job.

Don’t fill the kettle Heat your water more efficiently and even a simple cuppa could cost less. Figures show that could power a TV for a day on the energy wasted by overfilling the kettle, so top up less often, or invest in an eco-kettle which only heats the amount you need.

Replace light bulbs If you’re still using traditional light bulbs you could save £25 a year by switching to energy saving ones which use up to 80% less electricity and last around 10 times longer. Try fitting a dimmer to use even less power, and don’t fall for the myth that it’s cheaper to leave the lights on – switching them off will save energy whichever bulbs you use.

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Get an immersion timer Does your immersion heater need to be on all day? Chances are you’re just wasting energy, so invest in a timer to make sure you’re only using what you need. Turn down the temperature to 60% max, and insulate your tank to retain as much heat as possible.

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Chapter 4: How to save on your gas bill Does your gas bill make your eyes water? Here are a few ideas to help reduce energy consumption and keep costs down.

The right boiler If your boiler is more than 10 years old you could be losing as much as half of the gas you pay for. A new condensing boiler will be 90-95% efficient, which means it converts over 90% of the fuel it uses into heat, compared to 70% for a conventional boiler. Look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo and get it serviced regularly – you’ll be less likely to fork out for emergency repairs later…

Heating controls …. Get the right controls, however, and you could make your existing boiler more energyefficient. Thermostatic radiator valves may sound like something from Dr Who but in fact they simply allow you to control the temperature of individual rooms by regulating the flow of hot water to the radiator. Also consider time controls, and room thermostats which switch the heating off when the room reaches a set temperature.

Radiators Make your radiators work a bit harder and according to USwitch you could save up to £140 a year. A radiator booster uses a small fan to circulate heat more efficiently, while a simple reflector bounces heat back into the room that would normally be lost through the wall. Also try an automatic radiator bleeder, which releases trapped air saving you both energy and cash.

Toughen up Do you really need to stay in a T-shirt year round? Turning down the heating by one degree could save you up to 10% on your bills so put on a jumper before you reach for the controls.

Cooking Cooking with gas is cheaper than electricity but there are still ways you can reduce the amount of energy you use in the kitchen. A hob energy saver means you’ll use less gas to cook, while the kettle will boil water more quickly than the stove. Use the right sized pan for 13


the job, put in just enough water to cover your veg and always put the lid on to keep the heat in.

Insulate your loft and cavity walls The average home loses around one third of its heat through the roof and walls, but increasing your loft insulation to a depth of 270mm could save you £150 per year, while cavity wall insulation could shave a further £100 from your bill. Both are inexpensive and quick to do, and if you’re on a low income you could also be eligible for a grant or discount.

Draught-proofing Windows are the enemy of central heating, but a few simple measures could save you up to £50 a year according to the Energy Saving Trust. If double glazing isn’t an option, head to your local hardware store for self-adhesive draught excluders to seal windows and doors. Keep the heat in by shutting curtains, closing doors between rooms and sealing up gaps between your floors and skirting boards.

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Chapter 5: How to save on your water bill With water bills set to soar to an average of £376, switching to a meter could save you 10% off your annual costs. Here’s how to use water more wisely.

Switch to a water meter When it comes to water the market isn’t open to competition, which means that unlike gas and electricity you can’t shop around for a cheaper supplier. However you could still save money by switching to a meter and just paying for the water you use. Whether it’s worth it depends on your usage, but the general rule is that if you have more bedrooms than people in your house it’s worth looking into. Installation is free and you could cut 10% from your bill, plus if it does turn out to be more expensive you can switch back within a year.

Check your water usage If you want to see just how much water your family gets through, check out the water energy calculator at EnergySavingTrust.co.uk. You’ll get a report which shows how much you use along with quick wins to help you use water more wisely and save up to £150 per year.

Read the meter As with any utility, if your bills are based on estimates you could be shelling out when you don't need to. Most water companies say they will try to read your meter twice a year, but if they are unable to obtain a reading you'll be sent an estimated bill. Reading your own meter regularly will ensure your bills are as accurate as possible as well as alerting you to any leaks in your system.

Water saving freebies Most water companies offer a range of freebies designed to help you save water, including water efficient showerheads, flush saver bags, bath buoys and shower timers. Check out the consumer council for water to see what’s up for grabs in your area. 15


Flush less often The loo accounts for one third of domestic water consumption, so each time you go you’re flushing money down the pan. Think about how often you flush – is it really necessary every time? If you don’t have a dual flush toilet try a flush saver bag which sits inside the cistern and can save up to two litres of water each time.

Turn the taps off A dripping tap can drive you mad but at just one drip per second it could also waste 15 litres of water each day, so turn taps fully off and change washers as soon as they start to drip. Don’t leave taps running when shaving or brushing your teeth and fill the sink with water to wash dishes. Try fitting tap aerators which reduce flow rate and could save up to 12 litres a minute.

Take a shower… A shower uses just 35 litres of water compared to 80 for a bath, but with a few tricks you could save even more. A water efficient showerhead could cut water used by 30%, while shaving just one minute off your daily shower could save you £10 over the year, so invest in a timer to help keep showers short.

… Or a reduced capacity bath If you still prefer a bath there's no reason why you can't save water as you go. A reduced capacity bath is the same size as a traditional tub, but cleverly shaped inside so you need less water for the deep soak experience. And an inflatable 'bath buoy' for the kids could save up to 30 litres of hot water each time, so even if you're not on a meter you'll be saving money on all that water you're not heating.

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How To Save On Household Bills