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Seven simple ways to get ‘switched on’ about your energy bills

Aug 30, 2011

Would you throw take £100 out of the cashpoint and throw it down the drain? Of course not! But that’s exactly what many of us are doing when it comes to our utility bills.

And it’s about to get whole lot worse as the ‘Big Six’ gas and electricity suppliers are all upping their prices. British Gas, for example, is raising gas prices by 18%, or £120, and electricity prices by 16%, or £69. On average, British Gas customers have seen their bills rise by £256 or 25% since December 2010, with average dual fuel bills reaching a whopping £1,286 a year.

With this in mind, it’s never been more important to work out where you can make important energy savings.

Here are a few ways to ensure you are getting the best deal:

  1. Contact your existing supplier. A simple phone call could lead to a more affordable deal from your existing energy company without the hassle of switching to a new provider
  2. Buy online. This tends to be the cheapest option and is the easiest way to compare deals from all the major providers. Have copies of previous bills and your annual statement on hand as a new measure from Ofgem means you can find out how much you’re likely to pay next year if you stay on your current deal, making it easier to compare tariffs
  3. Consider getting your gas and electricity from the same supplier. This can simplify the billing process and many companies offer discounts for those that do
  4. Pay promptly. Some energy providers offer discounts for customers who settle their bills right away
  5. Way up all the options. Switching to a fixed–priced energy tariff can protect you from future price rises and may help you budget more effectively
  6. Be proactive. According to moneysupermarket.com, more than a million households aren’t paying for gas and electricity either because they can’t identify their supplier or because of a company oversight. Another million customers have moved out of a property without settling up. Avoid these situations at all costs: if your supplier finally catches up with you, you could end up having to find up to £1,390!
  7. Find out if you are entitled to extra help. If you are retired, disabled or are suffering from a chronic illness, you may be able to get financial assistance with your energy bills

Of course, the best way to save money (and the planet) is to become more energy efficient. Loft and cavity wall insulation will save you money, and you may be entitled to a grant to help with this. Visit the Energy Saving Trust to find out more.

Turning off lights when you leave a room and switching appliances off completely rather than leaving them on standby can also help to cut costs; this includes laptops and mobiles that are being charged unnecessarily. Energy–saving light bulbs last up to ten times longer than standard bulbs and can save up to £45 during their lifetime.

Closing your curtains in the early evening can help to keep heat within your home and it’s also worth checking around your windows and doors for drafts. Make sure you fix leaking taps and ensure they are fully turned off after use.

If you’re still feeling depressed about your energy bills, the news that British Gas has decided to suspend doorstep selling may cheer you up! Even better – other suppliers are expected to follow suit!

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