We recently hosted a free webinar with Money Magpie Founder and CEO Jasmine Birtles to discuss ways you can save on your heating bills and household chores. We have all faced greater financial pressures this winter and are likely to continue to do so, especially after the energy price cap was raised in October.
Together with experts Tash Jackson from the Energy Helpline and Nick Hill from Money Helper, Jasmine talks about everything that saves money, especially when it comes to heating our homes more cheaply while maintaining a good standard of living. One of our money stars, Izzy, is also attending the webinar to discuss some simple tips and tricks to cut costs this winter.
Here we summarize the most important points from the webinar. You can also watch the webinar here.
What if your utility company goes under?
- It is important to remember that your lights and heating are still on.
- Get a meter reading as soon as possible and receive a copy of your last invoice.
- Do not cancel direct debits.
- Do not be tempted to change the electricity provider, because your previous provider will continue to operate.
- Any credit you have with your current supplier is protected.
- If you owe your supplier, the debt persists.
- Don’t worry, you will be assigned a new supplier automatically.
- It is difficult to predict whether and how much your energy costs will rise – if you switch to a new provider, you will most likely be put on their variable standard tariff.
- In these unprecedented times, the standard tariff is likely the cheapest.
- It can feel nerve wracking, but don’t worry! OfGem has taken steps to keep your money safe during the transition.
can you contact your new provider and ask for a new tariff?
- Right now the standard rate is probably the best, but you can always call and inquire.
What ideas do you have for those who panic?
- These times can be very stressful, but it’s important not to panic.
- For those on a standard variable plan, you could see an increase of around £ 139 per year.
- Those on a prepaid plan can see increases of £ 153 per year.
- Fortunately, the price cap mitigates further price hikes, but it can be tricky when you’re on a tight budget.
What are the benefits of helping with bill payments?
- The winter fuel payment – If you were born on or before September 26, 1955, you could get between £ 100 and £ 300 to cover your heating bills. You shouldn’t have to claim this as it comes away with its usual perks.
- The discount for a warm home – You could get £ 140 off your electricity bill for the winter of 2021-2022. This money will not be paid out to you, but will be deducted directly from your heating bill. If you are drawing pension credits, it should automatically apply. You can also apply if you have low income or other benefits.
- Check with your supplier as this discount is limited if you are on a low income.
- Payment in cold weather – You will receive payment when the average temperature in your area is measured or forecast to be zero degrees Celsius or below for 7 consecutive days.
- Earn £ 25 for every 7 day period of very cold weather between November 1st and March 31st.
- This is available to people on lower incomes or who receive certain benefits.
Where can people seek help if they think they are in debt?
- Debt counseling is available free of charge in the Money Helper debt counseling tool. This tool will help you find both national and local support.
Are energy price increases cyclical?
- Yes they are. It is possible that energy prices will fall at some point in the future.
- There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment and the times are unprecedented, but what is certain is that it will get better.
- It is important that people understand what steps they can take now to make things easier and save money where they can.
What tips can you use to save money in the household?
- Check your energy certificate (EPC). You can find them free of charge at GOV.UK.
- If possible, pay by direct debit and set up paperless billing. Some companies may charge you for a physical copy of your invoice.
- Check with your utility company and local government to see if there are any programs that can help you save energy and money.
- For example, some councils send bags that you put in your toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water used in the toilet.
- Energy efficient shower heads are useful.
- Loft insulation can cut your bill by up to 25%.
- Windproof where you can around windows and doors.
- Only operate appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines and dryers when they are fully loaded or when absolutely necessary.
- You can use foil and line the wall behind your radiator. You can use both tin foil and specialty foil available at hardware stores. This pushes the heat back into the room instead of leaving it through the wall.
- Make sure your boiler and pipes are fine. This is cheaper in summer.
- Insulation costs up front, but it can save a lot of money. Insulating your attic can save you € 145 per year, and insulating your walls can save you € 110. It will pay off over the years.
- Invest in good socks, sweaters and hot water bottles! Electric blankets also save a lot of money, especially if you have electric heaters, as they cost a lot to run.
- Heated fans for your laundry also save money. Turning down the heating in your home and drying your laundry on a heated air dryer is an inexpensive solution to drying your laundry.
- Block drafts and cover gaps with electrical tape. Even stuffing a towel in a gap in a door or window can make a difference.
- Heavy curtains in front of large windows and doors can keep the warmth in your home. Charity shops offer cheap curtains and fabrics for this.
- Reviewing your boilers and switching from old boiler models can save you up to £ 230 a year.
Are there ways to cut other costs?
- Buy the cheaper, unbranded version of food whenever possible.
- Make Secret Santa for Christmas when you have a big family to save on gifts.
- Wear lots of layers.
- Make a grocery list or meal plan to avoid over-buying groceries, avoid waste, and save money.
- Try to reduce your meat and fish consumption by one to two days a week.
- Buy fresh and prepare meals from scratch. If possible, avoid ready-made meals as they cost a lot to buy.
- Reduce your heating to one or two rooms where you spend most of your time. In the evening, for example, only heat in the living room or dining room.
- Set the heater on a timer if you can.
- Hot water bottles are useful.
- Candles can help with warmth and light.
- Switch off the devices at the plug, as energy is consumed even when the device is not running.
- Look at other costs and find out where you can save money elsewhere. For example, could you switch to a cheaper broadband provider? Could you ask your current provider for a better deal?
- Check your subscriptions and cancel anything you don’t use regularly.
- ‘MOT’ your expenses and review anything you shouldn’t be paying for.
Do smart meters make sense?
- They are great at raising awareness of energy usage and helping you manage it better.
Is Black Friday a Good Time to Buy?
- You can get good bargains on Black Friday, such as cell phone contracts.
- Make sure the money you are spending and what you are buying is intentional and not spending money on items just because they have a lower price.
- Try to only buy things that you need.
- Note that some items are more expensive than usual to make Black Friday deals more attractive. The price can actually drop to the previous value.
- Camel Camel Camel is a website where you can see the price history of articles. You can also set up notifications to let you know when a desired item is on sale at a lower price.
- It is important to review the sales tricks used on Black Friday and spend unnecessary money.
How can people save with prepaid meters and tariffs?
- The Money Helper website has lots of tips on how to save money when you have a prepaid plan.
- You can switch to a variable standard tariff if you wish.
What if you have an oil heater?
- Check all announcements about getting out of the oil heater.
- There are many guides on the Energy Helpline website to help those who have alternative heating types.
How can you save fuel and vehicle costs?
- Make sure you have the best possible insurance contract. Use comparison pages to help you.
- Installing a black box in your car can lower your insurance costs.
- Proactive maintenance is crucial, don’t leave anything behind until it’s completely damaged. For example, fix a chip in a windshield before it becomes a crack.
- Plan your trip in advance and fill your tank before you leave. Buying gasoline and fuel in supermarkets can be considerably cheaper than stopping on a freeway to refuel.
- Carpooling and public transportation can help reduce fuel costs.
- Trade in your current car for parts can save you money on a new vehicle.
- You can save money by buying used vehicles.
- Hybrid and electric vehicles save fuel.
Are there any other tips and ideas to save money?
- LED light bulbs, smart kettles, smart thermostats, energy saving plugs, and smart shower heads are all extremely useful.
- Smart appliances can be switched on and off manually using your smartphone. If you accidentally leave lights or appliances on when you leave the house, you can turn them off remotely to save money.
- Contact your local council and ask if financial help is available. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
- Team up with your neighbors, friends and family. Share food and essentials and help each other.
- Create a budget for your expenses. A useful budget planner is available on the Money Helper website.
- Leave items in your online shopping carts. This can trigger a discarded shopping cart email with a discount code. You can also return to your shopping cart later and opt out of your purchase.
- Set your heater on a timer to reduce consumption.
- If you turn your heating down by just one degree Celsius, you can cut your heating bills by 10% annually.