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The Complete Guide to Save Money on Your Household Bills

From April, households could be facing costs of around £700 extra on their annual energy bills according to the energy regulator Ofgem - a record-high increase. If you’re worried about your energy consumption with the upcoming price hike and how you can afford your energy bills, as many of us are, it might be time to think about how you can cut back on your energy usage, or find ways to minimise costs in other areas of your home.

Here at Likely Loans, we genuinely care about how this change will affect both our customers and everyone who may be struggling with bills rising right now or in the future as a result, which is why we want to provide you with the right tools and resources to make things a little simpler. This guide is designed to help you minimise your household bills and payments and give you a little more peace of mind.

Plus, we’ve included a few tips on how to stay warm and toasty so you can comfortably survive the winter without your heating on blast and racking up a huge heating bill.

30th March 2022

Energy Bills

With an energy crisis looming, UK households are worried about rising energy prices, and the potentially life-changing effect that these will have on their home finances and overall quality of life. It’s not just about heating either, everything we do uses energy, and for those now working from home regularly, even overfilling the kettle a few times a day can start to add up.

To help combat the impact of rising energy bills, we’ve rounded up the best tips to save on your energy bills:

Switch Suppliers

Normally, switching suppliers is the biggest change you can make, and you should get in the practice of shopping around for the best deals regularly. However, right now switching may not save you any money with energy companies’ prices at their cap.

Compare online
All the big comparison sites like Money Supermarket and Compare the Market have comparison tools that will allow you to find the best deals on your gas and electric and provide you with quotes if you want to switch your energy supplier. Make sure you do your research to find out what you could be paying before you make any decisions.

Haggle with your current provider

Not only is haggling your energy bills acceptable, we actively encourage it. If you want to know how you can haggle effectively when contacting your energy supplier, check out our Simple Guide to Successfully Haggle Your Bills. The key is to prepare thoroughly before you contact your supplier and remain calm and collected during the call as you negotiate a better deal. You may also be able to secure a fixed tariff for the next year to reduce the effect of the energy bill rise.

Apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme
If you’re on low income or get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you could be eligible to apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme. This will entitle you to a one-off payment of £140 made directly to your energy provider for winter 2021 to 2022. Keep an eye out for any future grants and benefit schemes.

Understand the Ofgem cap
With everyone currently looking to find a cheaper deal, it’s actually likely that the cheapest rate available is the energy price cap rate set by Ofgem. At the moment, it’s very difficult to find fixed rate energy tariffs cheaper than the energy price cap, so you may have to accept that it’s the best price you’ll find and not switch energy suppliers. It’s also a good idea to keep up with the latest energy news.

Apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme
If you’re on low income or get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you could be eligible to apply for the Warm Home Discount Scheme. This will entitle you to a one-off payment of £140 made directly to your energy provider for winter 2021 to 2022. Keep an eye out for any future grants and benefit schemes.

Understand the Ofgem cap
With everyone currently looking to find a cheaper deal, it’s actually likely that the cheapest rate available is the energy price cap rate set by Ofgem. At the moment, it’s very difficult to find fixed rate energy tariffs cheaper than the energy price cap, so you may have to accept that it’s the best price you’ll find and not switch energy suppliers. It’s also a good idea to keep up with the latest energy news.

How to pay to fix your boiler

By now you’re obviously wondering, how can you pay for all these expenses when you have no money? Before the bill falls to you, you need to be aware of cases that won’t cost you a penny. Because you never know, they might apply to you:

Claim on your insurance

If your boiler was damaged through no fault of your own, the cost may be covered by your insurance company - check whether you’re eligible to claim.

If you have a leasehold (not a freehold)

The cost of a new boiler will, if required, fall on the freeholder.

If neither of these scenarios apply to you, your best bet is to pay for boiler repairs with your savings, as this eradicates interest fees. However, since the majority of us don’t usually have enough money stored away to solve problems this way, you’ll want to look into these other (more affordable) ways to fund a new boiler:

Reach out to friends and family

Before entering into the world of credit, it’s always worth asking the people who care about you whether or not they can help out. But be careful, no amount of money is worth ruining an important relationship for.

Unsecured personal loans

Unsecured home improvement loans provide you with a simple way to borrow money by taking out a lump sum and repaying it via monthly payments. They’re also a lot safer than secured loans, as they don’t require you to put an asset down as ‘security.’ Many times, this ‘security’ is your home, which means it’s at risk if you don’t make your repayments.

There are many providers out there (like us) so it’s an easy one to access if you have a good credit history. However, if your credit history is bad or non-existent, you’ll find it more difficult to borrow. You’ll likely have fewer options available to you, (including a secured loan) and you’ll probably have to pay for more credit.

So, on reflection, if you have the opportunity to take an unsecured loan, it’s usually the best option.

Credit card

If you have a good deal on your credit card, (for example, you have 0% APR) you may be able to fund boiler repairs this way. However, only opt for this payment plan if you know you’ll be able to pay it off before you start having to pay interest.

Credit cards can be a cost-effective option if you’re able to manage the payments well. But, if you don’t, your interest payments will usually increase quickly, so it’s imperative you work out and manage your budget carefully.

If you are thinking of paying for boiler repairs via your credit card, be aware of the pros and cons they pose:

Pros

  • If you make your payments on time, your credit score will improve.

  • Paying for work on a credit card means you could benefit from Section 75 protection, which means if anything goes wrong, the provider holds joint liability.

Cons

  • Due to credit cards charging the seller a fee, many tradespeople and engineers may not accept this payment type. Always mention this to your engineer first if this is how you plan to pay.

  • If you don’t keep up with your payments, you can damage your credit score.

  • If your boiler has gone on the blink, don’t panic. While you may not have the upfront cash to make the problem go away instantly, there are other options you can choose. Whether you opt for an unsecured loan and make monthly payments over a period of time, opt for a secured loan, (which may not be the best option but in some cases, the only option) or make payments via your credit card, you’ll be able to finance the repairs in a safe and sensible manner.

Just always make sure to always manage your budget so your future finances aren’t compromised.

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

For long-term savings, you’ll want to try and make your home as energy-efficient as possible. In a lot of cases, this means investing a decent chunk of your money, but there are still a couple of options that aren’t quite as expensive. There are also a number of government schemes and grants available for those trying to make their home energy efficient to reduce carbon emissions, as well as personal loans that can help spread the cost.

Replace your boiler

Not everyone can afford to replace their boiler, but if you can cover the boiler cost, it’ll be an investment that makes a big difference and will be worth it in the long run. Boilers generally last between ten and fifteen years but if they aren’t working at their most efficient they’re likely increasing your gas or electricity bills, so upgrading to a newer, more energy-efficient one will reduce your bill and mean you won’t have to upgrade again for years.

Draught proof everywhere

If heat is money (and it is) you don’t want a single bit of it escaping. Walk around your house and search for any potential draughts that are slipping through. This will most likely be through your windows, doors, floorboards or chimneys, so check them for any cracks or holes that heat might escape through. If you do find them, make sure to plug them up with draught excluders or anything that will work. Closing your curtains will also help keep heat in.

Bleed your radiators

Bleeding your radiators will clear out any dirt and get them working in a more efficient manner. To do this, insert your radiator key into the bleed valve and place a cloth or container under it to capture the water. Turn the radiator key anti-clockwise until you hear a hissing sound and close it again when water starts to leak. Turn the key clockwise to tighten it again.

Consider underfloor heating

Installing underfloor heating is a pricier option that distributes heat more evenly than radiators and your central heating system, using less energy and saving on energy bills in the future, eventually repaying the high upfront costs. Some people may do this in just one key room to increase their energy efficiency.

Check-in with your older appliances

The older your large household appliances are, the less energy efficient they’re likely to be. Plus, if there’s a fault, it may be wasting a lot of energy, which is why you should try to keep them in good condition. This includes your fridge, washing machine, stove etc. Replacing these with energy-efficient appliances may help in cutting your energy bills, so it’s worth considering if you’ve been putting it off deliberately.

Use Less

If you’re wondering how to save energy at home, the best and most obvious way to save money on household bills like electricity and gas, and even save water, is to use less. Here we have plenty of energy-saving tips and tricks you can use to reduce your energy usage.

Turn the heating down

Hear us out, we’re definitely not suggesting you freeze. Try turning your thermostat down by just one degree. There’s a good chance you won’t even notice the lower temperature, but with the amount of time you have your heating on for, that one degree can save you money. You’ll also want to set timers on the thermostat so the heating isn’t constantly on - think about your home situation, does it need to be on all day and night long?

Here are 11 top tips for keeping toasty warm in the cold weather so you can comfortably turn the heating down, prevent heat loss and cut your bills:

  1. Invest in quality blankets - a good blanket can keep you warm for decades.

  2. Decorate with rugs - rugs stop the heat escaping through the floorboards.

  3. Put up curtains - heavy curtains do a great job at blocking out draughts.

  4. Close unused rooms - don’t waste energy heating empty rooms.

  5. Check your doors and windows - keep them closed and seal any cracks.

  6. Use draught stoppers under doors - they’re cheap, but you can also use towels.

  7. Insulate your attic - heat rises, so loft insulation helps stop it escaping through the roof.

  8. Leave the oven open - after using the oven, use the heat to warm up the room.

  9. Stay upstairs - since heat rises, upstairs will likely be warmer than downstairs.

  10. Use smart thermostats - that way you can turn the heating off remotely if you forget

  11. Layer up - if all else fails, put more clothes on. No one cares how you look at home.

Be smart and cool while washing

Washing clothes can use a lot of water and energy, after all, it’s a whole process. Naturally, that means there are several hacks to bring down the costs of all your essential washing if you’re smart about it - and you’ll save the amount of hot water used too. Firstly, wear fewer clothes. While working at home all day, do you really need to make several outfit changes? Do your kids? This will reduce your laundry piles to begin with.

Only do the washing when you have enough for a full load, and when you finally do, turn down the temperature in the settings. Many types of material actually do better in cooler water. To dry it all off, consider avoiding the tumble dryer and hanging your clothes instead - this isn’t for everyone, but it will definitely make a difference to your energy and water bills if you do.

Turn the lights off

This one is simple and one of the first energy-saving tips anyone will ever give you to reduce your carbon footprint. Just turn off the lights when you leave a room. It’s easy to do, can cut costs on your electric bill and only takes a split second - you can even get the kids involved.

Speedy showers

Another classic tip is to shorten your showers and encourage everyone else in your house to do the same. Yes, a warm shower on a freezing cold day is nothing short of a blessing, but so is the right blanket or dressing gown and you don’t have that moment where you step out into the cold outside world (your bathroom). A study by Harvard Health claims “showering several times per week is plenty for most people” rather than every day, and will help boost your skin and immune system. Oh, and of course, fewer baths.

Batch cook

Meal prepping isn’t just great for a healthy lifestyle, it can also help you save money on your energy bill. Cooking one big meal to eat over a few days will save much more energy than cooking every time you need something. As an added bonus, you’ll also save money on your food shop as ingredients are often cheaper when you buy in bulk.

Unplug not standby

See that red dot in the corner of your eye? You’ve left your electrics on standby, as usual. We’re all guilty of it, wondering just how much energy something so small can actually save and then deciding it’s just too much hassle. Make this winter different, try unplugging anything you aren’t using (including your TV) and see if it shaves a few pounds off your bill. While you’re at it, shut down your laptop when you’re done with it, not only will it save power but it’ll help them perform better too.

Recharge at night

Your body uses the night to recharge, so why shouldn’t your devices? Remember, using electricity at off-peak times is cheaper, so if you have several things that need charging, the middle of the night is going to be the cheapest time to do that.

Work with natural light

Set up your home office in a place that’s filled with natural light. Not only will it improve your mood and productivity, but you won’t need any other lighting until the evening. That means no desk lamps or ambient lighting, just good old-fashioned sunlight. Plus, if you need a reminder to stop working at the end of the day for your work-life balance, the sun is the perfect solution.

Council Tax

Downsizing might not be the only way you can pay less on your council tax bill. It’s worth reading the official guidance on exactly who has to pay on GOV.UK and you may find you could be eligible for a discount on your bill. These options include:

Council tax reduction

If you’re on a low income or claim benefits, you can apply for a council tax reduction. You need to either own your home or rent, but it can apply to both unemployed and working. If you’re eligible, your bill could be reduced by anything up to 100% across all council tax bands.

Single person discount

If you’re the only person in your household aged 18 and over and eligible to pay council tax then you may be able to apply for a single person discount with your local council. Each council does this differently, so you’ll need to apply via their website. The Single Person Discount reduces your bill by 25%. 

Insurance

Protecting your home and belongings with insurance cover can be a non-negotiable part of your household expenses and could one day make all the difference in your financial situation, should accidents happen. Luckily, like energy, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to providers, making it easy to compare prices online.

Compare online

If your home insurance is up for renewal shortly, don’t just buy insurance from your mortgage provider or bank. Use comparison websites to see if you can get cheaper quotes than your current insurer. If you can talk to your provider, see if they will match or beat the best quote you’ve had.

Combine buildings and contents cover

Most of the time, getting your buildings insurance and contents insurance from the same provider will be cheaper than buying them separately. You should still compare the separate options though, just in case. It’s also convenient if you need to speak to the provider, as you only have to make one call.

Don't buy extras

Only get the insurance that you actually need. Do you really need any more than that basic policy? Sure, if you’re one of those people who seem cursed with bad luck and accidents, accidental cover may be a good idea, but if not, why not skip it. For example “Cover away from your home” is a another potential option you might want to opt-out of, especially if you don’t take your valuables out of the home very much.

Pay yearly

If you can afford it, paying your insurance bills annually will usually be cheaper. Paying monthly may be easier as you can spread the costs, but with this, you’ll be paying interest as an additional fee.

Get a security system

With a good security system, your insurance company may lower your premium based on certain factors like just how good that system is. Of course, that’s if you can afford one. It might be worth the investment though, especially depending on the area you live in. Plus, if you get a system that exceeds your insurance provider’s minimum requirements, you may end up saving more than the initial cost of installation.

Increase your voluntary excess

Your voluntary excess is the amount you choose to pay alongside the compulsory excess. By increasing the amount you’re willing to pay, you can lower the home insurance premium you pay monthly. The downside of this is if you have to make an insurance claim, you’ll have to pay both the voluntary and compulsory excess combined.

Estimate your belongings correctly

Don’t overestimate the value of what you own, instead calculate the actual amount it would cost to replace-as-new everything (should the worst happen). By taking this extra time, you’ll be paying a more accurate amount for your insurance, instead of paying too much because you overestimated.


Groceries

The amount you and your household spend on groceries is probably going to be the most flexible and actionable area of your household spending as there are so many different ways to cut back. We’ve included a handful of ways to cut the cost of your weekly food shops, but for many more, take a look at our 17 Simple Ways to Cut Your Food Costs.

Switch supermarkets

Discount supermarkets, Aldi and Lidl, are the cheapest option for your weekly shop if you have one in your local area. Even if you don’t buy everything you need here (although there’s no reason why you shouldn’t), you should try to get as much as possible at a discounted rate to lower family spending. If you prefer to shop at one of the big four supermarkets, Asda has been proven the cheapest for nearly two years.

Be open to alternatives

To get the best savings, you have to be open to switching up what you usually buy, either opting for a brand that’s currently on sale or picking up the unbranded value version of the item instead. By being less picky, you’re able to get a lot more deals.

Always check clearance

Most supermarkets and food shops will put goods that go out of date that day in their clearance section. If you need something for that day or are willing to freeze the food, this can be a super helpful way to save money. Usually, the later in the day that you go, the more that will be in clearance.

Grow your own food

If you have some extra time on your hands or simply love gardening, you can try growing your own vegetables. March is the start of the growing season and you can pick up seeds and plants relatively cheaply. By becoming more self-sufficient, you may reduce the number of trips to the store, saving you money on both petrol and what you’d spend on impulse purchases near the till.

Subscription Services

For all your subscriptions, whether that be apps, streaming services, magazines or something else entirely, check out this post on Why You Should Cancel Your Subscription Costs to save money.

With all these different tips for your home, saving money on your household bills isn’t difficult even with a few small changes. It doesn’t require a whole lifestyle overhaul, it’s just about paying attention and making smarter decisions as a household.