What Really Cuts Your Bills?

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There is a lot of advice out there for cutting down on your bills, but not all of the tips are entirely effective. It is hard to know which pieces of advice are really worth following and which are not so worthwhile.

Switching Suppliers

Of all the many pieces of bill/cutting advice, this is arguably the most oft-repeated. This is with good reason; it is also arguably the most significant. Being on the best deal for utilities and telecoms can save a lot compared to being on the worst deal, and the best deals are almost always saved for initial contract periods. Whenever one contract ends, it is definitely and absolutely worth consulting a comparison site to see if a new contract and supplier can get you a better deal.

Avoiding Standby

Most modern electronics don’t really use a great deal of power on standby, so leaving them on like that for a while in between periods of using them won’t do a great deal of harm. But when devices are left on standby all the time they are not being used, all day and all night, this can really mount up. When there are multiple devices being left this way, then the effect on your bills will mount up all the faster. Making sure you turn things off properly at the socket when they are going to be out of use for more than a short period, particularly overnight, can result in a noticeable drop in electricity charges.

Shorter Showers

Cutting down on the time you spent in the shower is something that could cut more than you might think off of your bills. This is particularly true if your property’s water supply is metered – something that has been on the rise in recent years and is now the case for many homes. Assuming you do have a meter, showering will add to two of your bills; your water bill, and your gas bill because of the need to heat the water. Foregoing the pleasure of standing under the flow and cutting a few minutes off of your shower time every day can lead to a significant saving each month across these two bills.

Boiler on a Timer

Whether it is worth putting your boiler on a timer is something of a contentious question. Some claim it takes more energy to heat up a cold house or tank of water from scratch than it would to keep it warm in the interim. While it is true that this factor means the savings aren’t as big as you may think, it is still decidedly cheaper to use a timer. Having your heating off in the day when the house is empty and set to come on a while before you get home can result in a decent saving. Once heated, a hot water tank will generally stay hot enough for at least a day, meaning you can also use a timer to heat your water up for a couple of hours in the early morning then turn your boiler off again until the next day.

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Your Money-Saving Rights While Renting

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There are a lot of things that can be done to reduce your living costs, but when you are a tenant in a rented property you may be unsure which of these fall within your rights. While some things pertaining to the property most certainly require the permission of your landlord, there are nonetheless a great many things you can do to bring down the cost of living in your property. These fall entirely within your rights as a tenant and do not require any approval at all.

Switch Energy Supplier

If you pay the bills yourself rather than through the landlord (for example if they are included in your rent), you are entirely within your right to switch the company that supplies your electricity and gas. In rare cases, tenancy agreements may include a clause saying you need the landlord’s permission to make the swap but, according to Ofgem the energy regulator, you should not be prevented unreasonably. A clause that prevents tenants from switching when they are responsible for paying bills could also potentially be viewed as an unfair agreement. The exception is where changing would require an alteration to the property, such as switching from a prepaid meter to a standard one.

Switching your energy supplier could potentially save a lot of money. The cheapest deals often come from smaller suppliers. Even if you aren’t familiar with their names, this isn’t necessarily a reason to hesitate. In customer satisfaction surveys, small companies tend to get much higher scores than the big ones.

Phone and Broadband

Similarly, if you are responsible for paying the bills for phone and broadband, you should be fully entitled to choose your own supplier. Usually, if a new line or reactivation of a line is required when you move into the property this should be within your rights even if it means a visit from an engineer in order to install it. However, check with your landlord if the property does not have any current phone sockets.

Once again, make use of comparison sites in order to get the best deal. Make sure you also look at other aspects of the package such as special offers or cashback in order to identify the best price. At the same time, make sure you choose a suitable package, as exceeding your download limit can quickly get very expensive.

Check Agency Fees Carefully

Agencies usually apply fees to a transaction, and these can be fairly heavy. Things like referencing fes are necessary and it is standard to include an administrative fee, but there have been occasional reports of some very questionable add-ons such as £60 for photocopying a document.

Fees should not only be reasonable, but also stated clearly up-front so you know what you are getting yourself into. If you feel an agency is failing to follow these principles and are hitting you with hidden fees, you can report them online to Shelter.

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