Households across the UK are looking to get a tighter grip on their finances and one of the best places they could start is with their energy bills. Research conducted last year suggested that 40 percent of British citizens were ‘clueless’ when it came to how much energy they used and 16 percent simply had no idea how much they spent on energy each year. Bearing in mind energy bills are one of the largest expenditures a household has outside of a mortgage or rent and the statistics are all the more shocking. Simply put, the more you understand about your energy use the better positioned you are to start saving money on your bills.
Getting the best rate
Despite the constant hikes in energy prices, people are still more aware of how many texts and minutes they use on their mobile phone than they are of how much gas and electricity they use at home. In order to get the best available contract for your mobile you need to understand your usage and exactly the same is true for energy. Spend an afternoon getting to grips with your previous bills; get to know what rate you are on and what other rates are available. It is imperative that you ensure you are getting the best rate with your current supplier before you look to compare energy prices with another, otherwise they will not have the incentive to give you the best possible deal.
Once you are certain you have the best rate for your needs with your current supplier, use one of the many comparison sites to help you compare electricity prices and gas tariffs with their competitors. A full list of independent comparison sites can be found at consumerfocus.org.uk. Do not be afraid to switch provider if it’s going to save you money; energy companies make huge profits from people being on the wrong plan. A report from 2010 estimated four billion pounds a year was being wasted by UK consumers paying too much for their energy. In this economic climate that’s a waste we could all do without.
Changing your habits
Understanding your energy usage not only helps you to find the best rates but it also allows you to make substantial savings by amending your habits. There are plenty of practical means of reducing your bills such as fitting energy saving light bulbs, dropping your thermostat by a single degree, properly insulating your property and only using dishwashers and washing machines for full loads. However, it is only when you can see the very real money saving benefits of such actions that you are likely to fully embrace them- and in order to do that you need to have a good knowledge of exactly how much energy you are using in the first place. You will likely be amazed at the difference some seemingly simple actions can make.
Another good means of getting to grips with your energy use is to invest in an energy monitor. These devices, which can be picked up for less than twenty pounds, plug into any electrical device in your home and tell you exactly how much energy it is using. There is no better way than to get out of the habit of leaving computers and televisions on stand-by than seeing exactly how much energy you are wasting.
By 2020 the government has decreed that all energy suppliers most provide their customers with smart meters. These will replace the cumbersome gas and electricity meters we are used to and with their electronic displays make it much easier for us all to understand how much energy we are using and when. Until then it is our own responsibility to know what we are spending and why- there really is no better starting point to reducing your bills.